Friday, May 27, 2016

Almutens vs. House Rulers: Deep Practice

I recently had a question about my evolving use of almutens versus house rulers in elections. An almuten is the planet that has the most dignity over a particular point in the chart or selection of points.

You look at the house, exaltation, triplicity, term and face rulers add up their points and subtract if it is the planet's detriment or fall.

So for example, if the point we are looking at is 1 Aries by day, Mars gets +5 points as sign ruler, Sun +4 as exaltation ruler, the Sun gets +3 points as day triplicity ruler of fire signs, Jupiter rules the term and gets +2, while Mars rules the 1st face of Aries where 1 Aries is, and gets +1. We add the points so Mars is 6, Sun is 7, Jupiter 2 points. Since the Sun is 7 he is the almuten. It is possible to have co-almutens, if the planets tie their score.

In 9th & 10th century Arabic astrology, which is direct ancestor of European traditional astrology, they are very big on almutens and use them for all sorts of purposes. The medieval astrologer Guido Bonatti, since he is closer to the Arabic astrologers in his practice, tends to use almutens a lot, so our contemporary traditional natal astrology which is heavily based on Bonatti, due to Robert Zoller, is also a big user of almutens. Horary astrology, based as it is more on Lilly who is much later, uses almutens a lot less.

One of the possible uses of almutens is as substitute house rulers. So, using our example, if Aries rises, the standard house ruler of the 1st house is Mars, since Mars rules Aries and Aries is on the cusp of the first house, but if 1 Aries rises, then the Sun is the almuten of the rising degree and thus almuten of the 1st house. Probably my biggest use of almutens was in marriage elections. These are hard to do because you need the 1st ruler and 7th ruler dignified or at least unafflicted, and the only possible pairs of 1st/7th rulers are Moon & Saturn, Sun & Saturn, Mercury & Jupiter, Mars & Venus. So I started doing marriage elections where, for example, Cancer rose, so the Moon was the house ruler and afflicted, but Venus was almuten of the rising degree and dignified.

I'm not sure it is a case of almutens not working, but I started realizing from a practical standpoint in doing readings that you need to focus and not have too many significators. For example in a relationship reading you look at the rulers of the 1st and 7th and planets in the 1st and 7th, but Lilly also says look at the Sun for Men and Venus for women. You end up having way too many planets to look at. Adding almutens into the mix just meant too many planets. Also I started feeling like I was "cheating" a bit when the house ruler was afflicted to use the almuten.

Here's what I think. Ultimately what we are doing is trying to look through the chart to see underlying spiritual patterns and cycles. While I don't think it is anything goes and you can do anything at any time and justify it astrologically, I do now feel that if you are working within the tradition you can have your own idiosyncratic approach so long as that approach is consistent. To do this requires a long immersion in the study of the tradition and then significant practical application. But after this you start to get guided in your approach. So I started feeling like I should stick with house rulers. Now it would not be irrational to end up just using almutens, they are really big in 9th-10th century Arabic astrology that is the root of European traditional astrology. But I started feeling, as I said, that generally using house rulers and then when the house ruler was afflicted, switching to almutens, was not a good way to accurately reflect the underlying spiritual cycles. My sense is that you could go with house almutens, but if you did you would need to feel like "yes, this is the way to go" and be consistent, not just switch to regular house rulers to avoid an afflicted house almuten.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Astrology in the News!

Always interesting to see how astrology pops up in the news. First mention is today in the Washington Post

Note that the heliocentric perspective is presented as objective truth while the geocentric perspective is simply an illusion. In fact, if you watch Mercury in the sky from Earth it will indeed appear to move backwards. Of course the video itself is an illusion, being a series of still pictures that change so quickly that they appear to move. Clearly everything we see via video is therefore also false!

I, along with Plotinus, agree with astronomers that the planets and stars are not actually causing effects on Earth. Instead the underlying spiritual cycles control both the cycles of the Heavens and cycles on Earth. Either that or the planetary archangels!

Finally it is very cute of the Washington Post to have it both ways, they report Mercury retrograde, explain what it is, give useful information on when Mercury is retrograde, all definitely aimed at an audience who are receptive and interested in astrology, then in the end denounce astrology. Same old media strategy, as Billy Bragg says, "Where they offer you a feature On stockings and suspenders Next to a call for stiffer penalties for sex offenders"

Next example is the New York Times continuing expose of the evils of fortunetellers

And yes this appears to be pretty heinous fraud. But this story links back to an earlier one on fortunetellers who are not simply using this as a con, but believe in what they are doing

The NYT's attitude is the traditional one, all fortunetelling is fraud, no matter what the fortuneteller themselves believe. Under New York Penal Law §165.35, entitled, "Fortune telling"

"A person is guilty of fortune telling when, for a fee or compensation which he directly or indirectly solicits or receives, he claims or pretends to tell fortunes, or holds himself out as being able, by claimed or pretended use of occult powers, to answer questions or give advice on personal matters or to exorcise, influence or affect evil spirits or curses;  except that this section does not apply to a person who engages in the aforedescribed conduct as part of a show or exhibition solely for the purpose of entertainment or amusement.

Fortune telling is a class B misdemeanor."

So as long as you admit it is fake, you are ok. If you believe that you can predict the future and charge to do so, you are a criminal in New York.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Magic, Astrology and Superstition II

Let's kick off with a Stevie Wonder video and the "official" definition of superstition from Wikipedia "Superstition is the belief in supernatural causality—that one event causes another without any natural process linking the two events—such as astrology, religion, omens, witchcraft, prophecies, etc., that contradicts natural science."

Well that wipes out everything spiritual doesn't it? No magic, no astrology, but also no religion, no gods or God, nothing but atheistic materialism. And in fact, much of what passes for the ideology of "Science" since the so-called Enlightenment has been a relentless attack on the spiritual in all areas. Most mainline Christian denominations have been happy to join in on attacks on astrology and magic, without realizing that their own raison d' etre was also implicated.

So clearly as an astrologer and astrological magician, I don't reject spiritual causality. The Hermetic philosophy that traditionally explained astrology and magic sees the Cosmos as one great unified Being, connected by bonds of sympathy and correspondence. I therefore don't see any chance or any coincidences, everything happens for a purpose. The problem is that since we can't always see the causality that is taking place. Two events having simultaneously or in close proximity are connected but don't necessarily cause each other. Science itself has problems with this. Just because people that only drink one drink a day are healthier overall doesn't mean drinking is healthy, it's actually that people that are so moderate as to only drink one drink a day have a lot of other healthy habits. A deeper underlying pattern that we often don't see or understand is what is providing the connection.

Horary astrology is an excellent example of spiritual causality and connection. The cycles of the stars and planets are easy to see and can be mapped thousands of years in the past and into the future. In the Renaissance view a person's emotions and body cycled with the Heavens. By asking a serious question, one that is emotionally important, the querent fixes a moment when their situation corresponds to the Heavenly cycles. The astrologer can then see through the chart to the underlying spiritual cycles, and then map these cycles back to the querent's situation, making an accurate prediction of future events. This is all spiritual causality and yet horary astrology can make astonishingly accurate and precise predictions. Horary was what really opened my eyes to the reality of the spiritual and the spiritual causality and connection that underlies all material things.

However, the atheistic/materialist skeptics have a point, it is definitely possibly to start seeing connections that don't work and causality that doesn't exist. "Step on a crack, break your mother's back" is classic superstition. I've stepped on a lot of cracks and my mother is still in pretty good shape.

This is where it gets tricky, particularly for magic. Science has taken all the material phenomenon that work 100% of the time. We are working with much more abstract forces that work sometimes, but not all of the time. Much of the time we have to judge by synchronistic means, I do a Jupiter talisman and 45 minutes later I get a check for $3000 in the mail. Jupiter = wealth and the timing fits! I typically do a 3rd and a 7th Mansion consecration each month when the Moon is in the 3rd and 7th Mansions. Often, and it happened this month, I get a big surge of business around these days. But not always.

So given the difficulty of actually seeing spiritual connections we do get a lot of false positives, which I think are legitimately branded as superstition. A key example that recurs over and over in astrology is relying on a single astrological factor that affects every single person in the world equally. For example, Mercury retrograde. Now Mercury is retrograde for all seven billion people on the planet, but somehow 99.99% of phone calls get through, 99.99% of flights don't get cancelled and the Internet doesn't shut down. In fact many people will be having the best day of their lives under Mercury retrograde. The proof is that no one can make any specific predictions in advance about the effects of Mercury retrograde, other than "it's bad, it's really, really bad" Actually the flavor of the month right now seems to be the void of course Moon. I've gotten people e-mailing me asking about the void of course in horary questions, in their natal charts, in elections, and worrying about it in non-lunar talismans. The unifying factor is that they are frightened and don't exactly know why.

On the other hand, I really don't like the number 13. I skip when numbering slides for lectures, for example. It just makes me nervous, I'm not really convinced there is a causal connection here, i.e. this is basically superstition. Nevertheless, I make it easy on myself and don't use the number 13, except in situations where it would be excessively difficult to avoid. Superstition is fine, so long as we recognize it as superstition and don't let it run our lives. There's nothing wrong with preferences and even superstition, except insisting they that are objective fact!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Testimonials & 3rd Mansion Ritual Picture

Folks, every time someone reports back their results I save them as a testimonial. I literally have 47 pages of testimonials. Here's a pretty incredible one I got this week:

"Was checking my mail and as soon as I opened my letter my Apple Watch buzzed and notified me of the moon about to enter the 3rd mansion. I looked at my check and it was for $33,000. What do you know! GK"

Plus the client sent the 3rd Mansion ritual picture you can see above. Check out the face of the woman in the smoke of the incense! Cool!

Check out 3rd Mansion Mirrors! One of my favorite talismans for "all good things"

Monday, March 7, 2016

Very Superstitious!

It might seem funny for a blog on astrology and magic to urge people to be aware when they are superstitious, but it turns out to be necessary.

Of course, to the modern atheistic materialist, anything relating to the spiritual is superstition, but that's not what I mean.

I'm following the dictionary definition, superstition is "a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like." Of course again, a modern atheistic materialist would say that the spiritual is automatically irrational, but that's only because their worldview excludes magic and the spiritual. See the Modern World View.

So for me the classic superstition is "step on a crack, break your mother's back" A seemingly innocent action that somehow has terrible consequences, so you'd better watch out. Just as the definition indicates superstition is inextricably tied up with ominous overtones.

Now, I am not condemning superstition. I'm rather superstitious myself. For example, when I number exhibits in a legal case, I don't like to have Exhibit 13. I don't walk under ladders and if I spill salt I throw a bit over my shoulder. I follow these superstitions because to not makes me a bit uncomfortable and because following them doesn't interfere with my life or work.

The problem we fall into is having a self image that is "rational" This means that we don't like to acknowledge our irrationality. Superstition can often have a neurotic or obsessive compulsive twinge to them and we don't want to accept that. What this means is that we can't quite get out of the grip of the superstition, but we can't accept that it is superstition either, so we have to rationalize it and turn superstition into a "real" problem.

Here's a classic example of what I would term superstition. It is very hard to get even decent cords for talismans. It is even harder to get cords that fit over your head and don't need to be clasped and unclasped each time. And finally numbers of people don't like leather. So the long, non-leather cords I could find are not that great and tend to break. Some clients find this very upsetting and are convinced that the cord breaking was a very bad omen. In fact, they are just cords that tend to break.

This is not to say that everything is not connected to everything else and every event is significant. It's just that every event is not of cosmic significance and every event that doesn't go our way is not foretelling disaster. !#$!% happens! Personally, I am very reluctant to claim that I know exactly what the spiritual or magical cause of a particular event is or what effect a talisman or invocation is likely to have. I do elect astrologically major events like filing a class action, otherwise I try to have faith that my ritual and invocations, done repeatedly over years, have produced a strong connection to the celestial spirits, who will then watch over me and provide me with what they in their great wisdom know is best for me, not what I might personally want.

So, in my view it is fine to be superstitious, so long as we recognize it and don't let it get in the way. The last case I had, had an exhibit 13 and I still won the case!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Looking at Stars and Charts by Hand?

Today I wanted to talk about a couple of issues that come up occasionally. I've learned that the best thing to do when this happens is to write up my thoughts and post them as a blog or on my website.

The first has to do with the actual physical observation of the stars and planets. This is an area where the basic confusion between astrologer and astronomer comes in; a mistake that amuses astrologers, but enrages astronomers. An astronomer studies the physical makeup and characteristics of space and celestial bodies. An astrologer looks at the relative position, speed, relationships, etc, of celestial bodies and makes predictions based on them. The basic tool of the astrologer is the horoscope or astrological chart. Until 1700 astrologers needed to be able to do some astronomy, they had to be able to calculate orbits and positions of planets and stars in order to create charts. Some astrologers even did physical observation of the movement of planets because logging these positions over a long period of time is how an ephemeris, which is a book containing the daily position of the planets is created. By the 17th century however, reasonably accurate ephemerides existed and most English astrologers just looked up planetary positions, rather than doing actual observation.

Again until around 1700 most astronomers were also astrologers and did prediction as a matter of course. Nowadays, astronomers almost froth at the mouth when confused with astrologers and have absolutely no knowledge of or desire to make astrological prediction. Recently I told someone in Iowa City I was an astrologer and then asked me if I worked at the University of Iowa! I was amused, but not apoplectic.

Ok, this leads to the next issue. As noted the key tool of the astrologer is the horoscope or astrological chart. This is a very accurate representation of the position of the planets, specific fixed stars, etc., at a particular time, date and location on Earth. A chart is a flat two dimensional representation of what you would see three dimensionally if you were actually standing at that particular time, date and location (with no clouds, other obstructions or the Earth in the way for objects below the horizon). In this the astrologer is much like a radiologist. They rely on x-ray or CAT scan or MRI charts which they use to interpret the health of the patient, but never see the actual patient. Similarly, astrologers don't need actual observation which is a good thing since we couldn't look at birthcharts without traveling all over the world or going back in time.

It is not uncommon for potential students to insist that they have to create astrological charts by hand and I have had potential students refuse to study with me out of concerns about using computers for astrology. Ironically all these potential students corresponded with me via e-mail!

Ok, I think there are a couple of issues mixed in here. First, a certain number of people are computer-phobic or find software difficult to use. While not a Luddite, I am not exactly a whole hearted fan of the unbridled use of technology. I tend to be a late adopter myself. I am also sympathetic to the endless effort necessary to learn new software and then keep up with it as the tech gods endlessly change it. Nevertheless, astrological software is a godsend!

Let's look at what is necessary to create a chart by hand. First you need a chart blank and a pencil to mark in the planetary positions. Then you need a book of tables, which includes the the necessary tables for houses and explains how to do the calculations. You also need an atlas that has accurate longitude and latitude information plus information on timezones and Daylight savings time changes, usually you need a US plus International Atlases. Plus you need an ephemeris that gives the daily position of the planets. You need to convert the time for the chart into local/Sidereal time, then calculate the house cusps, then interpolate the position of the planets. In my Michelsen Book of Tables, there are 22 pages of instructions!

As you can imagine these calculations are time intensive and if you make a mistake you mess up your chart. Very early on in my astrological career I calculated a few charts by hand, it took me about 45 minutes to an hour. I think if you got good at it you could perhaps do a chart in 15-30 minutes.

Compare this to using astrological software. All you need to do is enter the time, date and location. The software looks up the location, checks the timezone and DST and in less than a second gives you a super accurate chart. And there are FREE online chart drawing programs like Astrodienst pick chart drawing, Ascendant!

William Lilly, the famous English astrologer, used to send his charts out to be calculated by another astrologer. He would have loved astrological software! And since what an astrologer needs is an accurate chart, how it is produced is really irrelevant.

Now, the anti-astrological software partisans tend to fall into two camps. The first are typically non-astrologers who dislike computers. While I am sympathetic, in this situation, for the reasons stated above, I wholeheartedly embrace astrological software.

The second camp is represented by astrologers who learned astrology before the advent of astrological software. Pre-1980s you had no choice but to calculate charts by hand. Thus these older astrologers learned the laborious process of hand calculation and were loath to give it up. I have heard astrologers insist that calculation by hand was important because you learned from it. However, the process of hand calculation just teaches you how to calculate by hand, it does not teach you much of anything about celestial mechanics or anything else.

There is a valid point that computerized chart interpretation, commonly known as "cookbooking" cannot substitute for individualized interpretation by an astrologer. Very true! But this has no bearing on how the chart is created. I do 100% of the interpretation of all my readings individually, but I use charts created by computer. This gives exactly the same result as far as the interpretation is concerned as if I created the chart by hand.

So, yes when wide accessibility of computers ceases, astrologers will have to return to hand calculation. I have stockpiled all the necessary reference materials for chart calculation, but actually without a computer I'd probably shift to geomancy and I ching. Until that point, however, it is highly advantageous to use astrological software. Interpretation is not affected at all, and in fact likely enhanced by the accuracy of computer generated charts over hand calculations.

Additional Comments: I wanted to add some thoughts triggered by comments on this post. No reflection on the commentator whose points are good!

The issue I wanted to comment on was, "doing charts by hand is good for you" This is another point that I have seen raised with regard to charts by hand, but also to being fluent in Latin or Greek or Arabic, or any number of other useful or potential useful skills or types of knowledge. There's a whole lot of things that if you knew how to do might be useful as an astrologer. For example, I am an attorney with 25 years of practice which is very helpful in doing legal horary questions.

The problem is mistaking useful for vitally necessary. Latin would be nice since you could read all those untranslated astrological works. It is not necessary since you can learn and master traditional astrology just reading English. Using my example, sure it helps when doing legal horaries to be a lawyer, but it certainly is not necessary to be lawyer to judge a chart with a legal question. What I do as a teacher is to strip down the material to the bare minimum necessary to function as a traditional astrologer. I do this because this bare minimum is a pretty significant amount of knowledge and technique, that all by itself takes a good deal of time, energy and determination to master. Start throwing in the merely useful, and you are loading students with extra, unnecessary obstacles.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Name Change Horary

I got an interesting horary question today with a very clear answer that I thought I would share.

Question: "Should I change my name?"
Time Question Received & Understood: 10:00 am CST February 21, 2016
Place Question Received & Understood: Iowa City, IA 41 N 39 91 W 31

The meaning of the astrological factors are fully explained in the analysis below.

Astrological Factors Considered:

In this chart 18 Taurus rises and it is Moon hour. As the Moon is the night ruler of Earth signs the chart is radical or rooted which means it has internal signs of accuracy. As Taurus rises you are signified by Venus who is dignified by face in a fixed sign in the 10th house. The Moon is peregrine in a fixed sign. The Moon squares Mars and opposes the Sun with reception. Venus, your significator sextiles Saturn.


As Taurus rises you are signified by Venus who is weakly dignified by face in the 10th house. This shows only a weak ability to change names. The 1st house is the house that signifies the querent, the person asking the question. We look to this house for the appearance of the querent and questions involving their body. Lilly, Christian Astrology, page 60-1. John Frawley used the 1st house for a question involving a change of name. Horary Textbook (Apprentice Books, 2005) page 142. So we note that there is a fixed sign rising and that Venus ruler of the Ascendant and significator of the querent is in a fixed sign. In addition, the Moon is in a fixed sign. Lilly says of fixed signs, " Let us admit the Ascendant to be fixed, and the Lord of that Sign also in a fixed Sign, you may judge the party to be of firm resolution, no changling; or as we say, one that will stand to maintaine what he hath said or done, be it good or ill." Christian Astrology, page 89. With the Ascendant, Ascendant ruler and Moon all in fixed signs, this indicates that you should not or will not change your name.