Al-Kindi – The Transmission of Greek Metaphysics to Islamic Theology


A blog post on someone of the stature of al-Kindi can scarcely do him justice; but it can serve as an introduction to this extraordinary man as well as the transmission and absorption of Greek texts into Islamic theology. It is also my hope that al-Kindi will regain his former prominence among the many other Islamic contributors to human knowledge and to astrology in particular. His cosmology is essentially simple and I believe answers to many of the on-going discussion on the nature of fate and free-will.

To understand how al-Kindi’s mind works, his study of  The religion, philosophy, literature, geography, chronology of India is a good place to start. He’s is infinitely curious and readily absorbs the philosophy and weighs the values of other very different nations. I have placed the complete work in two volumes in the file section. Familiarity with al-Kindi breeds content. He stands as an essential figure of the Islamic Golden Age. It was tolerance, acceptance and inclusiveness that created the Age – not a rigid xenophobia.  It came about by a respect of other cultures and a willingness to work with them.

Abu Yusuf Ya‘qub ibn Ishaq Al-Kindi (ca. 800–870 CE) was the first self-identified philosopher in the Islamic and specifically Arabic tradition. His work with a group of scholars and translators, in what became known as the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, gave to the Arab world the works of Aristotle, the Neo-Platonists, and Greek mathematicians and scientists.  He did not appear to demonstrate the rigid distinctions between Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy that became the bugbear of later European philosophers. This in itself was no mean feat, but Al Kindi seemed to instinctively know what was of a similar nature and what was not.. al-Kindi’s own thought was suffused with Neo-Platonism, though his main authority in philosophical matters was Aristotle.

The Semitic or Abrahamic religions are less replete with metaphysical codes, but have what is more properly called cosmological ones, when compared for example, with the seemingly endless metaphysical systems of Hinduism. This is also true when those same texts are compared to the Platonic tradition, including the sophisticated and exquisite vision written down by Plotinus. It applied as well to the philosophy of Aristotle. It was to the latter than Al-Kindi first became transfixed. The distinction between Metaphysics, Cosmology and Ontology can at times become blurred of intermingled. To invite them into Islamic thought is not for the careless or faint of heart .

Al-Kindi is often referred to as the Arab’s philosopher. As has happened to so many great minds throughout history, the investigation of the most cherished ideas had lead to suspicions of heterodoxy. The word ‘heterodoxy’ is a convenient catch-all phrase that can be leveled at those who disagree, have some doubts or simply see the nature of reality through a different lens.In this respect, the story of Al-Kindi has contemporary relevance, with particular regard to the understanding of the nature of astrology. The contemporary Traditional astrologer will feel pretty much at home in Al-Kindi’s cosmology.

The new lens of Greek Philosophy provided Al Kindi with a means by which the Theology and Cosmology of the Quran, resulted in a highly significant shift in Astrological thought. By the time of Al-Ghazali, Islamic Philosophy and with it the Golden Age of was eclipsed by a literalist pessimism that has persisted to this day. What was at one time a naturally accepted element of Islam became heavily suspect. It is important to note, however, that Al-Kindi fell short of the view that the universe must be infinite.  It could have lead to his alienation at best and a death sentence at worst, as it did in a later period for Giordano Bruno.

The deep fear of infinity has historically put restrictions on the subject. Perhaps the fear of infinity is no more than the fear that our prescribed limits might prove to be no more than mind-forged manacles, as W. Blake so keenly understood. Limits are an important element in Islam: in general more so than either of the other Abrahamic religions. In the Islamic afterlife, it is made clear that there are no limits. Lastly, I believe infinity is ‘reserved’ for God on this side of the grave.  Philosophers throughout history have always needed to be adept at avoiding stepping on theological toes.

There are no precise parallels to the non-Islamic world on this matter, but the pseudo-prophetic Savonarola lead to a very similar shift, and in fact to a rapid decline in the creativity, tolerance, syncretism and ebullient optimism of Renaissance Florence.

Even Pico della Mirandola succumbed to the dogmatic position that what isn’t a particularly privileged form of Christianity, must be the work of the Devil. I’m certain that many great thinkers were frankly terrified at the speed in which the obscure monk, Savonarola, could turn Florence into a city full of mad people with proverbial pitchforks and literal torches.



The contempt and paranoia regarding the new learning was epitomized by the en mass burning of books and works o art, including works by Michelangelo. These were considered the vanities, in the biblical sense o the word and the burning of all these things was called the bonfire of the vanities, a term that survives to this day. This episode in Western history shall forever remain a reminder of how quickly great elements of civilizations can be destroyed by supernatural fears, that even otherwise rational people can fall prey.

In Islam, as in other Middle Eastern and Asian cultures there existed a very different sense of time. It was circular or spiral, but never linear. From the Greeks and developed to a fine science was the Prime Mover – one who is not acted upon – to the participation of the Prime Mover through secondary causes. This lends itself perfectly to Astrology. It means, among other things, that the Stars can easily become the agents of Providence, without diminishing the First Cause.

This was not to be the position of Al Ghazali. There was no room in his thinking for such niceties.  There was one cause and one cause only, no secondary powers could be entertained because they amounted to shirk – the attribution of partners to Allah.

Al-Kindi’s own treatises, many of them personal letters, were addressed to the family o the Caliph, who depended on his translations just as the Medic family would rely on Marsilo Ficino. Core texts included the Theology of Aristotle and Book of Causes along with Arabic versions of Plotinus and Proclus. This textual alchemy was fomented at the political and philosophical core of Islam.

Al-Kindi’s philosophical treatises also include On First Philosophy, in which he argues that the world is not eternal and that God is a simple One. This needs to be understood in the context of an Islamic thinker attempting reconciliation with Greek philosophy. The reality of Tawheed is the first principal in Muslim belief.  It is to believe that Allah alone is the ‘Rabb’ -Creator, Provider and Sustainer (note the identical attributes within Hinduism and elsewhere). He has no partner and needs no partner. To suggest that HE does is the greatest blasphemy in Islam.

Allah alone has the power to determine destiny, and He alone is truly Self-Sufficient (As-Samad) upon whom all the creation depends, as He says: “Allah created all things and He is the Wakeel (Trustee, Disposer of affairs, Guardian) of all things. “To Him belong the keys of the Heavens and the earth. He (Allah) enlarges and restricts provisions to whomever He Wills. Surely, He has Knowledge of everything. See Surah az-Zumar (39): 62. and Surah ash-Shoorah (42): 12. The guidance of the stars is a theme repeated many times in the Qu’ran, but often dismissed as something else.

The key difference from a modern point of view is not whether or not Aristotle was a monotheist.  For all intents and purposes he was . But it would be more accurate to call him a Deist, rather than a Theist. It may seem a fine point and it doesn’t seem to have deterred al Kindi, if in fact he truly appreciated the distinction. The Primum Mobile easily translates to Creator.

al-Kindi’s work in mathematics and other sciences was impressive and became known in both the later Arabic and Latin traditions for his positions on astrology, along with Averroes.

Arab scholar working diligently in the House of Wisdom. (Artist Unknown).

Arab scholar working diligently in the House of Wisdom. (Artist Unknown).

al-Kindi’s claims for astrology commit him to the idea that a wide range of specific events can be predicted on the basis of astral causation. His doctrine of providence goes further by “implying that all events in the lower world are caused by the stars, which are carrying out the benign “command” of God. This doctrine is set out in On the Prostration of the Outermost Sphere” ( Abu Rida 1950, 244–261, Rashed and Jolivet 1998, 177–99) and On the Proximate Agent Cause of Generation and Corruption (Abu Rida 1950, 214–237).

In al-Kindi’s system and, I would suggest, in the Qu’ran itselff, the heavens are possessed of souls who freely follow God’s command so as to move in such a way that the providentially intended sublunary things and events will come about.

This, according to al-Kindi, is what the Qu’ran refers to when it says that the stars “prostrate” themselves before God. In Proximate Agent Cause, meanwhile, al-Kindi gives a more detailed account of the means by which the heavens cause things in the lower world (here he invokes friction, not rays). The most obvious effect of the stars on our world is of course the seasons, because the sun (due to its size and proximity) is the heavenly body with the most powerful effect. If there were no such heavenly causation, according to al-Kindi, the elements would never have combined at all, and the lower realm would consist of four spheres of unmixed earth, water, air and fire.

03700 (1)

al-Kindi’s account of astral causation and providence is typical of his philosophical method. He combines and builds on ideas from Aristotle, later Greek philosophers, as well as so-called “scientific” figures such as Ptolemy. In his work “Prostration” he provides a rational explanation of central concepts in Islam. His explanation of the meaning o the stars prostrating themselves shows a keen interest in going beyond syncretism to a more enlightened reading of the Qu’ran. Al-Kindi appears to have been certain that once his more enlightened colleagues are exposed to his presentations of Greek wisdom, they will

agree that these non-Arabic and non-Muslim texts can be used —together with “Arabic” disciplines like grammar — in the service of a more profound understanding of Islam. These are heady claims and not ones ultimately shared by Al-Ghazali and his followers. Nevertheless, there existed what could be called an Al-Kindian tradition long ater his passing.  This current flourished in the tenth century, which is most obviously represented by the first and second generations of al-Kindi’s. followers.

Musicians_and_their_instruments Topkapi Palace Museum Library, H. 2164.

Musicians and instruments Topkapi Palace Museum Library H. 2164.

al Kindi ‘s advanced contributions to Musicology seem like a natural and intrinsic progression of his cosmology.Al-Kindi’s optimism on this score was not necessarily borne out in subsequent generations. But among thinkers influenced by al-Kindi, one can discern a continuing tendency to harmonize “foreign” philosophy with the “indigenous” developments of Muslim culture. This is one feature of what might be called the “Kindian tradition,” an intellectual current that runs up through the tenth century, which is most obviously represented by first and second generation students of al-Kindi’s.

In a world off ‘what ifs’ it is clear that the position of Al Kindi and like minded philosophers would have developed into a more universally tolerant Islam and one in which the reading of the stars was not confused with the worship of them. Today, we have weather forecasts that seem to be false more often than not, but I cannot imagine any sane person considering meteorology as shirk. Reading the sign of nature is something we do all the time, from the practice off horticulture to the study of the biological origins of life and indeed the universe itself.

Isra and Mi’raj in the Zubdat-al Tawarikh


Celestial map, signs of the Zodiac and lunar mansions in the Zubdat-al Tawarikh, dedicated to the Ottoman Sultan Murad III in 1583

First and foremost, I’m fascinated that a book on the natural world is prefaced with a painting of how that world is both sustained and came into being. The visual arts and astrology have long been inseparable.  The earliest star-lore was depicted visually in Sumer and far back into the Paleolithic period. The movements of the Heavens has always been of great importance and one picture really can be worth a thousand words when it comes to explaining Cosmologies.

Today, what we call history is not prefaced with a primary reference to the mystical creation. This makes these works most intriguing because they offer us a window into a mostly forgotten, but essential cosmologies. That is because we live in what we think is a linear, largely material reality. Other cultures, including the Turks, believed that time unfolded in spirals.

Most importantly, we no longer live with the concept of divine origin. Traditional Astrology is very much aware of this reality The image contains an enormous amount of information. Most fundamentally, we have circles within circles At the centre is the source. Next, the seven planets and luminaries are shown in their orbits following the Chaldean order. Beyond the orbit of Saturn have the realm of the Fixed Stars and it appears that the artist has chosen to place the zodiac beyond the black circle.

The theme and to some extent the style was probably inspired by an earlier work the Catalan Atlas by Cresques Abraham and his son Jehuda. It’s a fine work that predates Zubdat al Tawarikh by

Cosmographical diagram od Earth personified by an astronomer holding an astrolabe center of the Universe surrounded by concentric circles representing the four elements the seven planets the spheres and their personification - mid 14th C.

The Catalan Atlas. Cosmographical diagram od Earth personified by an astronomer holding an astrolabe at the center of the Universe surrounded by concentric circles representing the four elements the seven planets the spheres and their personification – mid 14th C.

two centuries. The Catalan Atlas is fairly accurate works of geography with astrological, cosmological plates such as the one below. There is a strikingly lovely page showing the signs and zodiacs as well  It will readily be seen that the Atlas lacks the lavish illustrations, the astrological detail and the strongly mystical representation of the natural world, including the heavens, working in harmony.

The seven planets and luminaries are shown in their orbits following the Chaldean order in a spiral. Beyond the orbit of Saturn, we have the realm of the Fixed Stars and it appears that the artist has chosen to place the zodiac beyond the black circle.

What makes this a particularly fine work, is that it includes the Decans in relation to Lunar Phases as well as the twenty-eight Lunar Mansions, with Angels guarding the Four Directions.

Miniature painting of a parade of two riding-gaz veterans from umelia in front of sultanmurat-iii-from-the-surname hmayun 16th century ce

Miniature painting of a parade of two riding-gaz veterans from umelia in front of sultanmurat-iii-from-the-surname hmayun 16th century ce

Miniature painting of a parade of two riding Gazi – Veterans from Rumelia – in front of Sultan Murat III from the Surname i hümayun 16th century CE

Although the style is very much Turkish and Islamic in style, it is entirely recognizable as what has become known as the Ptolemaic Universe, The relationship between this cosmology and the Night Journey of Muhammad will become clear.

Muhamad’s Night Journey is in Sura Al Nisra of the Quran and further embellished in the Hadiths It’s controversial these days. Many modern Muslims consider this to be a literal event that occurred at a particularly time and place.  – The Prophet rides on Buraq to Jerusalem where he ascends to meet the various Prophets from what is now known as the  Dome of the Rock.

Muhammad travels the seven heavens on Buraq

Muhammad travels the seven heavens on Buraq

The mystical version has is that the Prophet rose through levels of consciousness. In either case, there is an ascent of Seven spheres, an essential theme that has repeated over and over again. In Ayat 11 we have the following exhortation “And We have made the night and day two signs, and We erased the sign of the night and made the sign of the day visible that you may seek bounty from your Lord and may know the number of years and the account [of time]. And everything We have set out in detail.”

This and other passages in the Quran support astrology as a guide to the wise. The usual context is in ‘to show the way’ which clearly refers to the use of stars in navigation but also implies other uses, such as choosing the correct time for an event,, medical diagnosis military matters and affairs of State.  If this were not the case, Islam would have had no cause to compose the type of artwork that we see here, or produce some of the finest astrologers in the Middle Ages and beyond.

The exhortations against astrology are most specifically related to attempting to know such things as the time of the last day and the resurrection. This is the prerogative of the Creator. Common fortune telling won’t find any more support in the Quran as it does in the Bible. Indeed, many sects of Christianity regard astrology as forbidden. In much of my work I have tried to show the massive difference in intent, method and applications of divination compared to the disreputable and unwise world of fortune telling.

Portrait of Humayun, posthumously painted c. 1700 He was an avid astrologer.

Portrait of Humayun, posthumously painted c. 1700 He was an avid astrologer.

Imagine for a moment that you visit your physician and she tells you that you have a serious illness and may not have long to live. That physician has just made a prognostication based on medical knowledge. This could be construed as prediction and in fact it is. When a skilled astrologer reads a chart it for many of the same reason a medical professional might be consulted. Questions about physical, spiritual and mental health can and are addressed by competent astrologers.  Likewise, you might be concerned about making a choice between two or more things. The astrologer won’t make the choice for you, but they can offer very valuable information

Likewise, you might be concerned about making a choice between two or more things. The astrologer won’t make the choice for you, but they can offer very valuable information  There is time to seed and a time to reap. One of the greatest uses of astrology are, as far as I’m concerned, is in the medical field. Knowing your humour, the strengths and weakness you have are all sound applications of  the Celestial Science. If you read scripture carefully, you will not find thes4e applications of astrology to be forbidden.

Makhzan al-Asrār by Niẓāmīمخزن الاسرار Folio 3v The Prophet on Burāq

Makhzan al-Asrār by Niẓāmīمخزن الاسرار Folio 3v The Prophet on Burāq

Above, we what is essentially the sane theme found in the previous paintings, but with a a slight twist. This Persian Sufi painting describes the Night Journey of the Prophet. This work is far more complex than first meets the eye. The painting has deteriorated, but we can still see the planets, represented anthropomorphically. The Sun and Moon are represented as disks. occupying the first and fourth sphere, as per the Chaldea order. We can also see the constellations, but they are projected in such as a way that we have the illusion of looking through the spheres. Remember that this is illustrating Muhammad’s mystical Night Journey.

Returning to the Quranic position on astrology, let’s examine a few more quotations. There is a Sura in the Quran known as Buruj, an Arabic word meaning ‘Constellation’ or ‘Zodiac sign’. Surah Buruj is the 85th Surah in the Quran. The starting of the Surah is : “I swear by the sky where there are buruj…” (i.e Allah swears by th sky where are  zodiac signs.)

“I have created buruj  [Zodiac signs] in the sky and decorated them for viewers and I have also protected them from evils…” (Surah Hizr 16)

Prophet Muhammad-Miraj Isra

Prophet Muhammad-Miraj Isra

“How great he is, who has created buruj in the sky and placed the Sun and shining Moon over there…” (Surah Furkan 61 )

In Arabic Astrology, we find that the sign Leo is named ‘Asad Buruj’. ‘Asad’ means a lion thus the Arabic name of Leo, which is represented by a lion, is ‘Asad Buruj’. Similarly, Libra is named, ‘Meejan Buruj’. The Arabic word ‘Meejan’ means a balance.

The emphasis on the creation of constellations, given the context we have, does nothing to indicate that a study of the same is somehow haram.

Finally, we can take a brief survey of some of Islam’s most esteemed astrologer. Most are surprised to find that the poet Omar Khayyam of Khorasan was an accomplished astrologer(1019-1135)  He was so accurate in his predictions that he even understood about his own death. This isn’t exactly the same as knowing the time of his death but points to a deep understanding of the art.  Many will be familiar with Sahl Ibn Bishr, Al Kindi, Ibn Arabi, Al Biruni and others.

However, I think the crown should go to Ibn Sina (980-1037) He was brilliant Muslim scientist who developed Alchemy. He was also very much devoted to astronomy and astrology, but other than his prolific philosophical works his contributions to medicine are immeasurable. His massive pharmacopeia is still in use among medical astrologers and natural healers.

This may seem trivial to some, but we have a great deal at stake worldwide. Literalist Fundamentalism is not compatible with peace and has the effect of numbing the mind. The golden age of Islam did not flourish because of  a stricter adherence to Shariah, as is commonly thought by contemporary Muslims, but because it was a period of openness, serious study of Classical antiquity and a willingness to work with people of divergent faiths and ethnicities.

Constellations & The Primordial Zodiac I



If you’ve ever been to a planetarium, the chances are the presenter took ten minutes or so to heap scorn on the ignorant ancients who must have been smoking and drinking powerful drugs in order to see things like goats or virgins in the night sky. This is usually intended as the first blow against the “completely unfounded” science of astrology. The intended knock out punch is the reference to the Precession of the Equinox which means those Sun Sign columns in the tabloids offer a contrived system that ignores precession.

The idea is very simple and easy to grasp.  The sign that was rising at the Vernal Equinox has moved back almost one whole sign since their alignment. This means that what are called Sun Sign Geminis are actually Taurus – except of course they are not. Our astrology is seasonal in its basis, just as it was for the ancients. The critics of the zodiac based on Precession are missing the point.  Nevertheless, this is lost on astronomers. For them, these things are conclusive proof that astrology and its adherents are delusional and primitive minded. The irony of being called “primitive minded” has not been missed; nevertheless who can blame them for their views in the absence of coherent apologetics?

Authentic astrologers would agree on pretty much all counts but come to a very different conclusion. I’m not aware of a true astrologer who isn’t well aware of the phenomenon of the Precession. I would be the first to agree that the appearance of constellations has precious little, if anything, to do with their names. This is where things become really interesting and is the reason I chose the word “primordial” as part of the title advisedly.This is the first in an intended series of articles on this theme. This first part can be little more than a sketch. It serves as an introduction.

It has become all but impossible for many to view a clear a night sky with little or no light pollution. It cannot be overstated that this has changed us to a very large extent. It is now common to find people who cannot identify a single constellation or star. Anyone in or close to large city see almost no stars or perhaps none at all. The best viewing experience I’ve had was in a desert area of British Columbia, on a small mountain away from any artificial light and no Moon.  At first, the brilliance of countless stars are such that it is difficult to find constellations amongst them until the eyes get used to it. The simple connecting of dots yields little or nothing, In the Middle East, particularly under very arid conditions, it is said that one feels that one may reach out and touch the stars. They seemed very close indeed and quite obviously significant.

I would like to take some stars and constellations as examples, questioning the asterisms and looking to alternate, more ancient ways of relating to the heavens.

Antares is a bright orange star, It is among the clearest stars and easy to find if the skies are clear and you know where to look. It is in the centre of the neighbourhood of Scorpio and, with our preconceived conception of the Scorpion, we join the dots.

That’s how its supposed to work, but the image below showing Scorpius, probably as clearly as it can be viewed almost anywhere, doesn’t particularly look like a Scorpion. It could just as easily be an angel, a rabbit, a buffalo or a river. Both photos are included here with the kind permission of David Malin.


© 2008 Akira Fujii/David Malin Images

Here is the same section of the sky with constellation lines drawn in. Drawing the ecliptic further helps to provide orientation.

Sco_2_www_cImage and text ©2008 Akira Fujii David Malin

© 2008 Akira Fujii/David Malin Images

Even with the lines drawn, it still takes a great deal of imagination to see the constellation as a scorpion rather than anything else.  Unfortunately for the scathing astronomer at the planetarium, that is simply not how the constellations came to be, The situation is of course compounded by the simple fact that different cultures give different names to the same asterisms. Strictly speaking, there are no constellations until we decide that a given asterism has boundaries and significance and visa versa –  One might say a constellation is a projection of an archetype.

Enkienki walks out of the water to the land. The lion symbol of Zoroaster Age of-Leo

Enkienki walks out of the water to the land. The lion symbol of Zoroaster Age of-Leo

Gavin White has produced three illuminating works on ancient Babylonian star lore that challenge later interpretations. I have consulted Babylonian Star-Lore : an Illustrated Guide to the Star-Lore and Constellations of Ancient Babylonia (2008) and his The Queen of Heaven   I have also consulted The Heavenly Writing by Francesca Rochberg, The Epic of Gilgamesh (Gardner and Maier 1984 ed.)  Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth (Wolkstein & Kramer 1983  The Babylonians (HWH Saggs ] Cambridge UP) and The British Museum.

White tells us that: “In astrology the Scorpion’s armoured body segments and its array of weaponry predisposed it to become a creature symbolizing war and the martial prowess of the king. However a different meaning is attached to it in mythic texts such as the Gilgamesh Epic where Scorpion-men and women guard the sacred mountain through which the hero has traverse on his quest for immortality. The Scorpion-people are said to guard the sun at his rising and setting and because Gilgamesh is a favourite of the sun god they allow him to travel the subterranean path that the sun travels every night under the mountain.” (all references to Gavin White’s The Queen of Heaven  A New Interpretation of the Goddess in Ancient Near Eastern Art’ by Gavin White can be found on the publisher’s web site).

untitledThis detail is from a kudurru, or boundary stone, showing Gula with feathery crown attached to her conical headdress and a scorpion-man.

Gula with feathery crown attached to her conical headdress and a Scorpion-Man.

However, the form of the Scorpion People of the Sumerian and Babylonian constellation is utterly morphed. “The Scorpion People were powerful servants of the sun god Utu (Shamash). They had a human head, arms and torso but were bird-like below the waist (sometimes with human legs, sometimes bird) and a scorpion’s tail. The people of Mesopotamia invoked the Scorpion People as figures of powerful protection against evil and the forces of chaos. In The Epic of Gilgamesh the Scorpion couple, Scorpion Man and Scorpion Woman, guard the great Gate of the Mountain where the sun rises and are described as `terrifying.” (Gavin White – Queen of Heaven.)

There is a strong need  to understand the Babylonian view on its own terms, to the extent that that is possible. Williams writes: “In Babylonian mythology scorpion men were the children of Tiamat, the dragon mother of the universe.

Tiamat, the dragon mother of the universe

They were giants whose heads touched the sky. They possessed the head, arms, and torso of a man; but below the waist they had the tails of scorpions. Deadly warriors, they could fight either with their scorpion tails or their bows and arrows which never missed their targets. They were the sacred guardians of the sun god Shamash. In the morning they opened the gates of the Mountain of the East and Shamash ascended into the sky. At night they shut the gates of the Mountain of the West as Shamash descended into the underworld. Gilgamesh, the great Babylonian hero, was aided by a scorpion man in his quest for immortality.”  (Michael Williams.  Encyclopaedia Mythica)

The most easily recognized constellations in the Northern Hemisphere are the Circumpolar Ursa Minor and Ursa Major followed by Orion, mostly because of the several brilliant stars, including Betelgeuse, Rigel and Bellatrix. However none of these are part of the zodiac. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been highly significant in different cultures throughout history,

untitledEnki and the fishes Fishes are often represented swimming up the flow of waters that descend from Enkis shoulders On the left the symbol of the sun

Enki and the fishes Fishes are swimming up the flow of waters that descend from Enkis shoulders On the left is the the symbol of the sun

The constellations have two primary points of reference. The first is particularly referring to the circumpolar stars. The second which has the most immediate importance is the temporal. This is a simple case of a season matching an asterism which is then circumscribed and named.  So for example, Aquarius the Water Bearer rose during the rainy season of late winter and early Spring. But Pisces is now in that temporal place, while Aquarius is rising in the cold but dry season. And how, we may well ask, does Pisces represent either late winter or early spring. What do fish have to do with the season? It takes an exceedingly vivid and guided imagination to translate the asterism to embody two fishes tied together and pulling in different directions for eternity. The same is true of most of the zodiacal asterisms.

Sumerian image, we see both mer-people and priests dressed in fish-skin capes at the sacred tree

Sumerian image, we see both mer-people and priests dressed in fish-skin capes at the sacred tree

However, when we look to Pisces as a temporal reference, the time of year of great floods, other significance can be found. Like Anunitum, the Fish symbolizes the season of flooding, which commences in the early spring. “Like other creatures of the Abyss, fish were thought to be symbols of wisdom and were accordingly held sacred to Enki, the god of creative intelligence, incantations and magic.” (QoH)  The cord is indicative of the two rivers flowing into the sea. This isn’t how Pisces is represented today and before the end of the epoch prior to 500 B.C. much, but by no means all, had already been lost.

 Seven Tablets of Creation.

The Kudurru – Seven Tablets of Creation. (left to right) Venus of the goddess Ishtar, lunar crescent of the moon-god Sin, and the solar disk of Shamash , the Sun god). The serpent is a Tiamat, ( Akkadian for “sea,”)

Of course some zodia are deceptively simple.
They make sense due to the Season in the Northern Hemisphere; Leo is probably as good an example as any.  The Lion has been seen by cultures everywhere as the “king of the beasts” courageous and Solar – why not reign in the hottest and driest part of the year.

White tells us: “Lion (Leo) The Lion has two main strands of symbolism. Firstly as a seasonal star it represents the ferocious heat of summer – its radiant mane stands for the overbearing radiance of the summer sun. Secondly, as the sacred beast of the war goddess Inanna-Ishtar, the Lion represents victory and war. The bright star at its breast (our Regulus) is known as the King Star – here representing the favourite of the goddess to whom she grants victory.” (QoN)

Our knowledge of Ancient History is poor, but great progress has been made even in the last two decades. It has become increasingly apparent that our classical Greek and Roman archetypes are in most cases pale shadows of their original significance. To get to the heart of the zodiac, we need to go back at least as far as Babylon.

Here we find a very different reality where the counterpart of Venus, for example, is the goddess of sexual love, fertility and warfare. The word “pretty” simply doesn’t apply to her. In fact, we have lost most of the archetypal origins of the zodiac and find ourselves trying to make sense of fragments of a powerful, elusive,  but clearly profound inheritance.


Winged gods - Sumer

The American Presidential Election and why we wouldn’t make a Prediction on the outcome using birth times of the Candidates.

It seems a day hasn’t passed since the start of 2016 when there hasn’t been some news coverage regarding either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, other than the time taken up with the Brexit outcome here in the UK.

Things on the Internet are now starting to heat up especially since the first head to head between Trump and Clinton on the 26th September.

Friendships have been lost either personally, or on Facebook over outcomes. Words are hurled over the Internet about others astrological takes on the outcome and, at times, it seems as though the small astrological community is at war with itself. (As we can see in the Libra Ingress chart a microcosm/reflection of the state of the nation)

Much of the animosity and finger wagging centres primarily on that most vexatious issue of unknown, or verified birth times for Hillary Clinton where times range from 8:02 am to 8:02 pm; as well as 10:48 am and yet another birth time of 02.18.

I copy the following from ISAR which is available on FB and other sites:

BREAKING NEWS!!! Hillary Clinton’s birth time has been found


According to astrologer Marc Penfield, both the Cook County and State of Illinois record divisions last week verified a time of birth as recorded for Hillary Rodham that took place on October 26, 1947. If correct, it is not the commonly used birth times of approximately 8:00 am or 8:00 pm.

Marc will be on the closing Presidential Election panel 2016 ISAR Forecasting Symposium on Sunday, October 16, 5 pm (PST). He will reveal the Democratic contender’s time of birth then, and the process he went through to find this KEY missing astrological link for forecasting the 2016 USA Presidential Election.

So now, we have even more suspense building up to the most exciting astrological event of 2016!

Hope to see you onsite in two and half weeks! #isar2016 #astrology

This led to the following comments on the Politics & Astrology FB page:

Marc Penfield’s time he claims to have sourced is 02.18am. This certainly has a ring of déja vu about it. Zayin Cohen was originally reported as giving a time of 02.18am back in 2005 and ADB recorded this. He claimed to have accessed Hillary Clinton’s time of birth through a contact in the Chicago Records Office who sourced her birth certificate for him. It was then reported on astrology groups like the Noel Tyl site. However, I corresponded with Zayin Cohen a few weeks ago. Zayin Cohen then claimed the time he had actually found was 02.08am not 02.18am. He said it was incorrectly reported on ADB and elsewhere. However, with the death of Louis Rodden it never got resolved. Like Marc Penfield, Zayin Cohen claimed to have an anonymous source in the Chicago Public Records office. He has long said he cannot give out the certificate or details of the official as this is illegal. But I have been in contact with Patrick Watson today and he showed me evidence of a FB conversation with Zayin Cohen back in August when he was informed by Zayin Cohen that the right time was actually 01.18am not 02.18am. I am trying not to throw out accusations here but Zayin Cohen is clearly giving out conflicting times. So was the time on the birth certificate always really 02.18am which has been corroborated by Marc Penfield? In which case why is Zayin Cohen now altering his time? Did Marc Penfield really source this directly or is he just using the time that was widely attributed to Zayin Cohen earlier which he now himself disputes? Or maybe Zayin Cohen is playing games with us and the time was always 02.18am. Presumably, like Zayin Cohen, Marc Penfield will not be able to produce a scan of the birth certificate for legal reasons.

Leaving aside birth times for Hillary Clinton, there is also a modicum of doubt to be raised regarding Donald Trump’s Rising Sign.  23 seconds into the AA rated birth time of 10:54, the Ascendant moves from Leo into Virgo. So there is more Virgo in that minute than Leo.  When I mentioned this fact during Hakan Kirkuglus’s talk at the AA Conference, Michael Lutin shouted and said how I could I be so stupid – of course Trump is a Leo, you just have to look at him. Well that is the common perception, but from a Traditional perspective, if Trump did have Virgo rising it would explain the multiple marriages and strong family ties and good relationships with his ex-wives even more than the fixed Leo Ascendant/Aquarius 7th house. So to my mind there is doubt about both candidates and their Ascendants and therefore their personal house relationships.

There is no definitive “birth time” for the Republican and Democratic parties.  So what could be used to call this election?

A traditional mundane method was always to look at the Aries Ingress and if needed, the other Ingresses of the quarters dependent on the Rising sign of the Aries Ingress. If a fixed sign rose, that chart was good for the year. (This is indeed the case with the UK Aries Ingress 2016).  If a mutable sign, the chart was cast for both Aries and Libra Ingress’ and if a Cardinal sign rose, then each quarter you cast a new chart.

Taking Washington DC as the Capital for America, the Aries Ingress for 2016 had the mutable sign of Sagittarius on the Ascendant. The lord of the Ascendant, Jupiter, is also in a mutable sign together with the mutable ascendant emphasising the need to look at the Libra Ingress. The Libra Ingress chart has Scorpio rising and is valid for the period covering the election to the actual Inauguration of the Presidential Candidate on the 20th January 2017.

In the UK with the Brexit vote, Mark Cullen the Moderator on Skyscript, put together a fairly comprehensive list of methods used by various astrologers to make their predictions. Of those 16 in his sample who correctly voted leave, 4 used opening of the Polls along with other techniques.

Maybe this method would shed some light on the potential outcome of this most bitter of elections?

Due to the time changes across America, the first State to open its polls is the New Hampshire state of Dixville Notch at 00.00 on the 8th November 2016.

There are two ways we could look at this chart for Incumbent and Challenger; one way is to take the 1st for the current Ruler and the 7th for the challenger, or the 10th for current King and 4th for challenger or opposition.

We will look at both ways, although the actual significators using whole house signs doesn’t change.

We will start with the 10th/4th axis.    The 11th is for the supporters of the current King and the 5th for the supporters of the challenger.

The 10th is ruled by Mercury, who is under suns beams, his supporters are the Moon (also the common people). The challenger is Jupiter and his supporters are Saturn.

Taking Mercury to represent the incumbent party; Mercury has no rulership in 23° Scorpio and cannot see the 10th sign of Gemini from the 3rd sign, which simply means it is blind and cannot effectively manage the affairs of the house Gemini represents.  We find Mercury just on the edge of Sunbeams moving out of the harmful rays. As Mercury leaves the rays of the Sun he applies to his ruler Mars, wanting to give his authority and management of 10th house affairs to Mars which is in its exaltation. However before Mercury can exit from the rays of the Sun, the application is frustrated as Mars leaves Capricorn into Aquarius. This does not bode well for the incumbent party.

Jupiter representing the Challenger or opposition party has authority as participating triplicity ruler in Libra. Jupiter is applying to Saturn giving his power and authority to Saturn to manage Jupiter’s affairs [this is called the committing of his disposition], which Saturn accepts because Jupiter is in the sign of Saturn’s exaltation [reception]. Also, Saturn has authority in Sagittarius as participating triplicity ruler of Fire. Saturn in the 4th is angular and has the strength to carry out the business of Jupiter.

Jupiter is operating out of the turned 11th house from the 4th. This is the house of Good Daemon and Jupiter is said to rejoice in the 11th.  Saturn is also indicator of Jupiter’s Seconds or helpers. Saturn is bang in the middle of Jupiter’s sign, giving his aid and assistance to Jupiter.

The Moon as indicator of the Incumbents Seconds is tucked away in the 6th of sickness and labour. She can’t see her house and is in the sign of Saturn.  Her next application is to Mercury, indicator of the current ruler.  She perfects this aspect with a square, showing some difficulty.  If we take the Moon to represent the people, it shows they are in slavery, sick and not very effective. The Moon takes the light of Mercury to Venus by Sextile. Venus in this chart disposes of Jupiter as he disposes of her. So there is some reception between these two planets.

Venus cannot see Mercury to give him her aid.  The women are turned away from helping the Incumbent.

Taking the Rising sign of Virgo for the Incumbent and the 7th for the challenger, we have the same planets as significators.  All that has changed is their house positions.

Mercury is now in a cadent sign but can see the Ascendant sign.  However, his power to act is weak as he is still blinkered by the Sun who rules the 12th of enemies.  The Sun is blinding him to what is going on?  Jupiter on the other hand is in his participating triplicity rulership, oriental and strong.   Jupiter can see neither Ascendant nor Descendant, but, through his application to Saturn in an angle, Saturn reflects Jupiter’s light to his house, Pisces (called rendering of light).  In this changed situation in assigning different houses, Saturn is the means whereby he Jupiter can manage the affairs of the 7th.  Jupiter can also see his other house, the 10th sign from the Descendant (Sagittarius). The same comments apply to Jupiter’s relationship to Saturn as mentioned in our first scenario (10th/4th axis).

If you look at this chart using house divisions, so the 10th cusp is Taurus and the 4th Scorpio, Venus is still in aversion to her sign (can’t manage).  Mars can see his sign of Scorpio by sextile.   The Sun (reputation, honours) is in the 4th by division.  Mars, the ruler of Scorpio, is exalted in Capricorn at the time of this event!


No matter how you view this chart for the opening of polls, it appears to give the victory to the Opponent.

Turning now to the Libra ingress chart:


Traditionally the first thing to locate was the Lord of the Year of the Ingress chart.

The first consideration is to determine what planet will represent the people of the nation.

“You will also look, for the rustics and their condition, from the Lord of the Year and its place,”

(From the “Revolution of the Years of the World” by Māshāʿallāh translated by Benjamin Dykes PhD)

The ascendant of the chart always represented the people of the nation as did the Moon.  The Lord of the Year was found from one of the lords of the ascendant (ruler, exalted ruler, triplicity ruler, or term ruler) or even the sect luminary.  In this chart we have chosen Mars as Lord of Year since he is the lord of the Ascendant Scorpio. We do this in spite of the fact he is cadent from the ascendant in the 2nd house. The reason for this choice is that in fact all the rulers including the sect luminary, the Sun, fall cadent of the ascendant.

This very accurately describes the state of the people in America going into this half of the year.

Chapter 12: When the Lord of the Year is cadent

If the Lord of the Year were cadent from the Ascendant, not aspecting the Ascendant (in the eighth, sixth, second, or twelfth sign), then he will be in need, and therefore weakness will befall him, because he fell in a place removed from the Ascendant:

(From the “Revolution of the Years of the World” by Māshāʿallāh translated by Benjamin Dykes PhD.

Both Mars and the Moon representing the people are in aversion to the Ascendant.  The people feel out of touch and powerless to act. The Martian types are in conflict and also out of touch with their national identity. For both significators there is a sense of helplessness, weakness, division, contention and fear. Note that the Moon’s application to the opposition of Mars further indicates the very obvious division of the nation.

The incumbent Ruling Party is shown by the Sun as ruler of the 10th sign/house. (Note: the Sun would not necessarily always be the significator of the ruling party if another sign were on the MC). Their opponents are indicated by Saturn as ruler of the 4th sign/house.

To discover the successor belonging to the current ruling party, we look to the second triplicity ruler of the Sign on the 10th. This gives us Jupiter as the Nocturnal Sect Ruler of Fire.

Jupiter is under Sunbeams, out of sight in the 12th sign. This suggests a weak successor who cannot be seen. This relates perhaps to Hillary not being so visible on the campaign trail. Obama has been actively campaigning on her behalf. Naturally the Sun being in Libra is in detriment and in the cadent 12th; the King is no longer strong.   Hillary’s recent health problems and public collapse could also be indicative of this weak Jupiter.

To assess the condition of the opposition, we will take both the actual sign ruler (Saturn) and the diurnal triplicity ruler of Air – again Saturn. So Saturn indicates the opposing candidate.    There is no other planet to consider as they (the opposition party) have put up their challenger.

Neither significator of the people (Moon & Mars) applies to join either candidate, again indicating the disconnectedness and “hatred” by the people for the two candidates. It appears in the history of the American Elections that no two contenders for this crown have been so reviled by their countrymen.

So how to discover the outcome?

We look at the individual strength of both significators and the actions between them.

As noted, Jupiter is combust, in the 12th and applies to Saturn from Saturn’s house of exaltation (Libra) and his house of joy.

As we saw in the other charts we looked at, this handing over of power is a very distinct action between the two because it indicates Jupiter handing the management of everything she is and represents, to Saturn who receives her gift!

Saturn standing alone is stronger than Jupiter, being free of sunbeams, and able to manage the affairs of his house of Aquarius.

The conclusion is that Saturn is the winner.

By Sharon Knight and Steven Birchfield 29.09.2016

Musings of an Astrologer

Musings of an astrologer

The methods used in mundane delineation are old and with their entrance into Europe in the 12th and 13th century via Spain some have been significantly revised. One of the last and perhaps most popular of the medieval Persian astrologers to use these techniques with real results was Abu Ma’shār.

When his works were translated into Latin, the translators and religious censors working with the translators were faced with some very real problems. The first was the lack of practical knowledge of the application of these techniques. They were first of all scholars, translating texts whose subject matter was totally outside their experience. As far as I have been able to see, not a single one was in fact a practicing astrologer. The second and probably the most critical, was the philosophies on which these techniques were based. In order to translate these texts and to receive acceptance by the religious authorities, compromises had to be made. Most often it was the text that was compromised. This particular problem was discussed by both Richard Lemay and Charles Burnett; both have written and given lectures on the corruption of certain Arabic texts when they were translated and transmitted into Europe. I’m not going to go into the details of these translation practices here, but it is quite well documented now that the original Arabic texts are being translated and compared to the same Latin translations. I can refer you to these articles though and particularly one by Dr. Charles Burnett:

“The Strategy of Revision in the Arabic-Latin Translations from Toledo: The case of Abu Ma’shār’s On the Great Conjunctions” by Dr. Charles Burnett in the publication, “Les Traducteurs au travail: leurs manuscrits et leurs methods”, ed. J. Hamesse, Turnabout, 2002, pp.51-113 and 529-540.


“A Group of Arabic-Latin Translators working in northern Spain in the mid-12th century” published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1977, pp.62-108

Most of the current consensus is documented in articles in obscure journals, publications and University lectures. But I can assure you the evidence is quite authoritative!

Now the reason I’m beginning with this point is because it had a great influence in what later astrologers would have to rely on – which in many cases was not the original practice. But thanks to certain scholars today, such as Charles Burnett and Michio Yano (among others), we are gaining manuscripts and translated texts which reveal what was corrupted and where and when! I’ve personally devoted the last couple of years to these texts and practices and with the support and cooperation of scholars; (in particular I can thank Dr. Michio Yano and the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa in Tokyo, who more than graciously obliged my studies by supplying me with texts) I’ve been trying to restore these techniques and the full picture of what these things entailed.

Now, having said this, I can lay no claim to having a complete or full understanding of these things. I do have certain convictions about these things and having struggled with these texts, am convinced that there is more than simply meets the eye. Mundane astrology was one of the matters of which Abu Ma’shār claimed “was a secret of science”. This is a theme running throughout Abu Ma’shār’s works. Abu Ma’shār was fond of secrets. He was quite fond of speaking in riddles and metaphors. For instance, in discussing the relationship of Jupiter and Saturn to war, he refers to the square of these two superiors as “The Fortitude of the Sword.” Secrecy was a necessary part of Abu Ma’shār’s astrological practice. He worked for the secular and religious authorities from Egypt to Persia and India. It is to be assumed that he was exposed to or came in contact with secrets, both personal and political in the course of his work. We are not surprised when we read the following anecdote in Lynn Thorndike’s article, Albumasar in Sadan, which is the only biographical treatise ever written about Abu Ma’shār by his student Abu Ṣāʳid Schadsan, which was corrupted into Sadan in Latin.

«Abu Ma’shār said that when a native’s 2nd house is impeded at birth and its ruler also unfortunate, the native never prospers. When asked why he never mentioned this in his writings, he said: “The sage who writes down all he knows is like an empty vessel. Nobody needs him and his reputation declines. He should keep some secrets to himself and communicate them only to his closest friends.»

When you look at the written evidence alone, it is very clear that few, if any Medieval Western or Arabic authors give exhaustive expositions. As Robert Zoller wrote in a yet unpublished article,

“Certain parameters are given (in these texts) and the reader is left to figure out the rest himself. The reader is likely to conclude that none of these authors really knew how to predict. However, two facts mitigate this conclusion: 1) there are numerous reports of astrologers successfully predicting the death of this or that native. 2) The common experience of contemporary practitioners of this Medieval Astrology is that such predictions can, in fact, be made. 3) Errors in prediction can come from numerous causes, but incomplete or faulty knowledge of the proper technique is certainly a cause of error.”

Now these things are true, and for anyone spending any amount of time in these original texts, it becomes very obvious! I appreciate that there are people out there who are not rejecting some of these original concepts but instead are making sincere efforts to use them. However, as has been the case of the last thousand years, the foundations are still not recovered so that often those efforts are much the same as a “craps game” and the odds are very small that we can restore a functioning method by chance alone!

Thus I have to start at the beginning! In order to make heads or tails of these ancients methods, then we have to understand something of the foundation philosophy. In Abu Ma’shār’s case, his methods reflect the basic philosophy that the first thing to appear in universal political and social matters is the prophet and “the law” of the Prophet. Because of changes in ‘religion (philosophy)’ there arise new dynasties and kings.

«Since we have already provided in the first Part the means to know the matters that needed explanation concerning prophets, their Shariahs (Laws), and the like, let us mention, in this second Part, how to know the matters of dynasties and kings, and let us begin in this chapter with how to know the change of dynasty from one nation to another, and to which nation it comes, since the rank of kings follows that of prophets.»

Now the ancients’ use of conjunctions is very much built on this foundation! It was not just any conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, but it was especially those conjunctions which occurred at the beginning of a shift of the conjunction into a new triplicity. This is where it becomes very difficult. I struggled for a long time with this conception because 1) all of these astrologers used a theoretical conjunction based on the mean motions of these two planets and 2) these ‘mean’ conjunctions do not occur in reality! The whole of these considerations is based entirely on a ‘theoretical’ conjunction! Were they aware of this fact? Absolutely! In the introduction to this chapter On Conjunctions in his text book, Kūšyār Ibn Labbān writes;

«[1] Many people of this art have another method in general judgment. It is by means of the conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn. The Persians are the wisest of them in their conviction, and the most devoted to bringing together happiness and misfortune through it, according to their claim, from the conjunctions of these two planets. They set in motion each one of Jupiter and Saturn with their mean motion and they lay down the following scheme – the two ‹planets› make twelve conjunctions in each triplicity and sometimes thirteen conjunctions; what is between two conjunctions is roughly twenty years. They fix chronology by it from the conjunction occurring at the beginning of a triplicity to the conjunction occurring at the beginning of another triplicity.

[2] If this method were correct for us, we could spare much trouble in worrying about the equations of the planets and their correction. When there is dependence on the corrected positions of the two ‹planets›, the number of the conjunctions of the two ‹planets› in the triplicities could not be grasped, neither could the days and years which are between the conjunctions nor the ascendant of the time of the conjunction of the two planets be obtained, because of the slowness of their motion and because of the difficulty of inquiring into their conditions which are dependent on precise observation.

[3] Thus they made the ascendant of the year in which the conjunction occurs the ascendant of the conjunction, and they judged what things are caused by the conjunction from this ascendant, just as judgments are made concerning the other things that happen from the ascendants of beginnings of these ‹happenings›. When we are true to ourselves we know that this ascendant is artificial, but we follow the people in their opinion, and we are polite to them in associating ‹with them› and we support them concerning their belief, and we do not think it utterly impossible that a conjunction of the two spheres of the orbs of the epicycles of two has influence in the world. Thus we choose from their sayings what is closer to ‹our› thought and what is more inclined to analogy. »

In this text we’re made to understand a couple of things; first that these astrologers were quite aware of the fact that the physical positions of Jupiter and Saturn had nothing to do with their conceptual positions through their ‘mean’ motions. Second, that the actual degree of the conjunction had nothing to do with the casting of the chart of the conjunction and that they used the ingress chart of the year of the conjunction. In other words, these astrologers willingly and knowingly used an ‘ideal’ conception to make delineations. As I said I had a very hard time coming to terms with this thought. By profession I am a Civil and Structural Engineer. I deal with physical laws and mathematics on a daily basis. For me to accept this conception was certainly a trial for my ‘scientific’ sensitivities. However, come to terms with it I did! The main reason in coming to terms with it was the fact that this is not the only place in astrology where an ‘ideal’ conception lies at the roots of delineation! The zodiac in its beginning and end is an ‘idealised’ conception! The signs are not nicely distributed in handy 30° increments! Aspects between planets are an idealised concept based on the totally natural human attribute of vision. The dwads or dōdekatémoria are 2½° conceptions that idealise the physical relationship of the Suns ‘mean’ motion and the moon’s ‘mean’ motion! The various lots are mathematical constructs based on longitudinal positions and their relationships. So there are many such ‘ideal’ conceptions. All of these things made me realise that perhaps there was a lot more to astrologers like Abu Ma’shār; especially with regards to ‘influence’ of the astrologicals.

A lot of people are going to say that these methods are too complicated and there are too many factors to consider. This has always been the complaint over Abu Ma’shār’s techniques in natal astrology. I’ve heard individuals say if we practiced what he taught it would take months to delineate a chart. First of all that is not true although it cannot be done overnight either. Secondly I marvel that people spend years in educating themselves in secondary schools and universities and if we hear of a doctor, lawyer, engineer or any other professional getting ‘certified’ without that kind of education then we are sceptical about their ability, and for good reason. Yet when it comes to the complexity of delineation, well we so easily accept ‘hobby’ astrology. As an engineer and I am working on a complex building project it takes me weeks to months to calculate the static forces that affect that construction and arrive at a structure that will handle the various forces that affect all buildings. I didn’t learn this as a ‘hobby’. Why people would expect delineation of a natal or mundane chart to be a simple 1-2-3 process when it contains so many relational and proportional elements is beyond me! An individual is a complex being! A society and culture is complex and more importantly the variables that contribute to the rise of cultures, societies and nations and religions are complex. I should expect that the methods of determining outcomes would also reflect to some extent the complexity of the system it describes. I have often marvelled at how similar my profession is to that of an astrologer where we have to demonstrate with the conceptual language of mathematics the relationships existing between so many variable physical factors!

To explain a little of the levels of this complexity with regards to the ancient’s methods of delineation let me try and put it into a schematic but I am going to work backwards from the simplest element. We have the individual and we are told by several of the ancient texts that that individual must be seen in the context of his mundane situation! How can you predict long life and riches to a man whose home is invaded and bombed by a rival nation or ethnic hate or political machinations? The natal delineation must be seen in the context of other greater ‘universals’. This native is a member of a cultural nation. What happens to that nation is predisposed also to ‘greater’ universals.

Steven Birchfield A.M.A.

Some thoughts about malefic and benefic planets

The last Mars / Saturn  conjunction in Sagittarius, on August 24th, 2016, raises some important considerations.

On the same day of the conjunction it happened there was an earthquake in Italy and 240 people were killed.

Here in Brazil the the impeachment trial of President Dilma Rousseff  was initiated by the Senate..

Ordinary people face problems of various kinds, especially those with planets in mutable signs.

In the heavens, most of the planets and luminaries are in Virgo. Virgo is Brazil´s Solar Sign, and the malefics in Sagittarius happen to be on the MC of this country.

Dilma Rousseff, who withdrew from the Presidency, has Mars in Virgo at 4 degrees, the Sun in Sagittarius at 25 degrees, Jupiter and Mercury at 11º and 10º. The malefic conjunction is activating  these points defiantly.

We can imagine that the Senate vote will not be  positive for the president.


grande conjunção Marte SaturnoI’m reminded of Steven Birtchfield´s words, when he wrote of the Zodiac as “living signs”

I consider it a very appropriate expression and we can observe that in heavens Sagittarius and all double signs are suffering, and the reflection of this is the situation in earth.The universe is a living organism and if one of its parts suffers, the whole body suffers.


Mundane occurrences depend on each natal chart and on the ruler ship of each planet in the signs.

But what strikes me is that we should keep in mind a reorientation.

The allocation off benefic and malefic planets comes  down to us from the Babylonians. However, there are features that go beyond the benefics bringing good things in life and malefics bringing bad experiences.

If we take a malefic and observe how he exercises his malfeasance, we tend to think that it is so called because of causing harmful things in our world. The real evil characteristic of the planet, however, rests in the fact that he treats other planets badly and such treatment, by synchronicity, reflects in our world.

Indirectly the malefic qualities belonging to Saturn and Mars translates into bad events that occur to humans, but in the first instance is the  war in heavens the responsible factor. The opposite effect is caused by the benefics, which treat well and benefit the other planets.

In a way, the idea that planetary relations should be seen from a heavenly point of view and not from the human point of view should always be remembered.

This is a focus  that we must get used to.

Explaining better we can reach the difference between benefics and malefics not because of a human perspective, but because in the first place, the living planets are suffering,  and this is caused by Saturn and Mars, squaring Virgo, afflicting the Sun and the Moon,( at least in the conjunction chart for Brazil), squaring the Nodes and all the planets in Virgo. The living creatures are suffering because Mars and Saturn are malefics, and their suffering causes tragedies on earth, but the point is to give light on WHY a planet is said to be malefic, and the answer is that it is because he cause war in heavens.

Clélia Romano, DMA     August 2016



 A  handy table constructed by Clélia Romano   

         according to  W.Lilly Teachings[i]

  Dedicated to my friends and partners

   Steven Birchfield and Peter Clark


       NO Means false

        YES Means true


1– Lord of the ASC in an angle
YES              NO

2– Moon in an angle

YES              NO

3– Dispositor of the Moon in an Angle

YES              NO

4– The dispositor of the Moon in a fixed sign.
YES              NO

5-Moon in a fixed sign?

YES              NO

6 -Moon in fixed Signes, separating from the infortunes and applying to a fortunate Planet, placed in any Angle

YES for a good rumor      NO for bad ones

7-Mercury separating from the an infortune and applying to a fortunate Planet, placed in any Angle

YES for a good rumors       NO for bad ones

8.Lord of the ASC is in a fixed sign?

YES              NO

9-Moon is in a sucedant house?

YES             NO

10- Moon in good aspect with the fortunate Planets, Sextile or trine of Jupiter, Venus or Sun?

YES ( for the good rumors    NO for bad ones

11-Lord of the ASC is in a sucedent house?

YES              NO

12– Lord of the Asc in good aspect with the fortunate Planets, Sextile or trine of Jupiter, Venus or Sun?

YES for good rumors             NO for bad rumors

13– Lord Of ASC, afflicted by the infortunes

YES              NO
14-Moon cadent in house (even if strong in the sign)

YES              NO

15– Lord of the Asc. is cadent in house (even if strong in the sign)

YES              NO

16– There are some malefic sitiated in the third of rumors?

YES              NO

17– Third house Lord afflict by malefic

YES              NO



                     NO Means false

                   YES  Means true



1– Are the angles of the figure in fixed signs?

YES               NO

2 Are the angles of the 4th and of the 10th in fixed signs?

YES               NO

3 Third house Lord is in the 3rd?

YES               NO

4 Third house´s lord is in a fixed sign?

YES               NO

5: Are the Angles of the 4th and of the 10th in fixed signs and the Moon is received in them?
YES               NO



[i] Instruction to use the Table: You have to print it and compare your chart according with each one of the questions above, underlying the answer for each one. After sum up the Columns saying YES and the columns saying NO.

You might compare with the last complementary table to check out your conclusions.