Friday, January 2, 2015

Renaissance of Ancient Talismans

A long time friend of mine e-mailed me today with a link to a very interesting article on an ancient amulet. This particular one had a palindrome (reads forwards and backwards) inscription.

Very interesting! This reminded me of the famous Abracadabra inscription. Not a palindrome but it's also an example of wordplay, you repeatedly inscribe with a letter missing on each line. Both very interesting examples of wordplay in magical inscriptions.

These examples got me thinking about ancient magic. Clearly the most important text for ancient talismanic magic is the Greek Magical Papyri, edited by Betz. The Greek Magical Papyri, often abbreviated as the PGM, are quite amazing. Several hundred pages of magical spells, recipes, prayers and invocations. Coming from a period quite like our own in being very eclectic, combining many magical traditions in a new synthesis. Definitely worth having in your grimoire collection! There's just not that many examples of authentic ancient magical texts.

Another excellent book on ancient talismans is Curse Tablets and Binding Spelles from the Ancient World by Gager. This book gives many examples of defixiones, which are a very typical ancient talisman made from writing on lead strips. Curses, love spells, business, justice, even racing are covered, with lots of actual examples.

Gager even brings us full circle because the very first illustration in the book comes from Picatrix! He notes the use of magical symbols in Picatrix very much akin to those used in ancient talismans 1,000 years earlier, then notes the use of similar characters in Renaissance England. Of course, for us Picatrix is an exciting and new form of magic, the renaissance of medieval and ancient magic, in an endless birth, death and rebirth.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Astrology, Prophecy and Christmas

"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet... Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.” Matthew 2:1-11.

Now this is a very interesting passage, since it provides such a positive view of astrology, often lumped with sorcery and witchcraft in the Bible. The three wise men or Magi are clearly astrologers and in some modern translations of the Bible, clearly identified as such. And while the use in Matthew is focused on the many foretellings of the birth of Christ, of course, the fact that it was astrologically predicted means that astrology works! Note that in this passage, astrological prediction and prophecy as well as dream interpretation all combine to give a complete view of events.

It's interesting to compare this with Luke, "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger." Luke 2:8-16.

Note that the astrologers knew that Christ was to be born from the stars, but didn't know where, while the divine revelation given by the angels to the shepherds is complete in all details, "born this night in the City of Christ the Lord."

What these accounts of the birth of Christ reveal is that astrology and prophecy are ultimately not antagonistic, but that they are different means to understand not just material reality, but also to approach the One. There is, of course, a tremendous amount of interesting material available on the Three Magi.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Using USNO Website for Fixed Star Elections!

Folks, I had posted earlier about the US Naval Observatory website which has a great page on rising, transiting(culminating) and setting times for any world location for planets and many stars.

Now I've really done it! I have a great new Renaissance Astrology webpage on how to use the USNO webpage for elections for all 15 of Hermes fixed stars.

Here's the link to my USNO fixed star elections page.

This makes it easy to do your own fixed star elections, this is perfect for consecration and invocation, though for actually making talismans you are going to want to elect more factors. I explain how to do this in my Astrological Magic Course.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Moon and Intuition: Key for Astrological Prediction?

On my recent trip to Japan I did a number of unusual (at least unusual for me!) things.

I've mentioned the planetary initiation, this time of Jupiter, which I was privileged to give to participants at a Shinto shrine in Osaka. I've never done these in the US!

Also on my list of unusual things was doing on the spot natal readings. Normally, I always do my readings in writing. I find this gives me time to think carefully about the chart, and seems to help to write out the reading. But as part of my astrology lectures in both Tokyo and Osaka, I looked at participants' natal charts, riffing on the spot and even in public, so the other participants could see and hear. Not that I want to switch my general readings to this style, but very interesting!

Among the lecture participants were a good number of professional Japanese astrologers, tarot readers, and other types of professional Eastern and Western fortunetellers. In Japan fortunetelling of many types, traditional Japanese, Chinese, Taoist/Yin yang, along with Western methods are both practiced and widely accepted. It's more accepted here and easier to think about and actually begin a professional career.

What was striking about the natal charts of the Japanese fortunetellers was the fact that very often they had either an angular and/or dignified Moon. I think of about 8 or so fortuneteller participants, about 7 had this signature. Very interesting!

Ok, so first let's talk a bit about astrological signatures. We must be very careful not to try to set up a 1 to 1 correspondence between character traits or natal characteristics and individual chart features. For example, while almost everyone who has a strongly dignified Mercury in the chart is intelligent, plenty of intelligent people have afflicted Mercuries.

But the prominence of the Moon in fortuneteller chart is interesting. In my chart, for example, the Moon is rising. We tend to think of Mercury as ruling astrology and indeed Lilly, Christian Astrology page 78 says Mercury rules astrologers. Saturn also plays a role, ruling "secret sciences" Picatrix Bk III, ch 7. But Picatrix also says the Moon rules, "thoroughly studying high sciences such as astrology, magic, and other secret sciences" Picatrix Bk III, ch 7.

While I looked and couldn't find a reference in traditional sources, the Moon is also often associated in contemporary traditional astrology with intuition, visions, prophecy and psychic ability. When Robert Zoller looked at my chart, he noted that the rising Moon indicated intuition and divinatory ability. The prominence of the Moon in these charts brought home to me the importance of intuition and divinatory ability to astrologers.

This raises an important point. When I first started practicing traditional astrology people would ask, "Are you psychic?" and I would say "no, this is scientific" After 15 years, I have realized that what Lilly calls judgment, aka intuition, is a key part of astrological prediction. I am finally confident enough in my intuitive approach to look at natal charts and publicly predict. It was gratifying to basically be on the money with almost every chart.

But as traditional astrologers we use intuition and psychic ability a bit different than a classic psychic. We do not immediately jump to our intuition. We first delineate the chart using traditional methods and then, within the possibilities indicated by the chart, we use our judgment and intuition to determine the final answer. I discuss this in a Youtube lecture here.

Nevertheless, this divinatory ability is extremely important. As astrologers should embrace rather than reject the title of fortuneteller, but in fact we are oracles. A great privilege and a weighty responsibility!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I had a recent question asking about rectification, which supposedly is a way for an astrologer to find your birth time if you don't know it so you can have a natal chart and have it read.

Ok, if we look at Christian Astrology, pages 507-519, where Lilly discusses rectification, frankly my eyes glaze over. A series of complex calculations in 17th century English are required.

However what is reasonably clear is that Lilly is seeking to rectify by going backwards, ie he looks at "accidents" basically significant incidents in the native's life and then uses that to try and reconstruct their birth chart. The basic method, which he mentions repeatedly is directions, ie primary directions.

This is a key traditional natal timing technique, which has been simplified as a degree for a year, or a day for a year, but in fact involves taking the 2-D chart and using spherical trigonometry, remapping the chart to the Heavens and then using complex calculations to mathematically see the path of the planets. This is then used, along with solar revolutions (returns) profections, and transits to do timing from a natal chart, or in this case rectification.

Frankly, I've never been able to understand primary directions or even figure out how to use software that has them. I know that many astrologers are excited about them and that's great, I've just never seen anyone convincingly look at multiple unknown natal charts and accurately time multiple life events with primary directions. Lilly certainly claimed to be able to do it, but I can't follow his methods sufficiently to check. It may be possible, all I can say is I can't do it and I don't know anyone who can.

Ditto with rectification, again it may be possible, but I personally can't do it and don't know anyone who can accurately. It's very easy to fool ourselves here, because if we know the outcome or know the life history of the person involved we can fit it into almost any chart and convince ourselves that we are doing prediction.

What I find is that horary which is very focused and precise compared to natal because it is dealing with such a limited question, still cannot time very accurately. Either the indications aren't in the chart or often they aren't accurate. Natal charts have almost no timing indications in them, if we just look at the basic chart, we have to use additional techniques like primary directions, firdaria, profections, solar revolutions and the modern favorite, transits. Given the broader strokes of the natal chart which is your chart when you are 2 and when you are 90, obviously the amount of detail and precision must be much less than a horary. So if precise horary timing is tough, natal must be even more difficult.

And this is for traditional astrological technique! Modern doesn't have a hope. Modern astrologers try to time off of just transits and solar returns(revolutions), plus they don't use essential dignities. Transiting Jupiter in fall with Jupiter in detriment in the natal chart is not likely to be very positive for the native, but a modern astrologer would be saying, "money, success, YEEEEH!"

So, it would be very nice to see someone make traditional rectification their life's work. They would need to master basic traditional natal technique, then master the natal timing techniques including primary directions, then master rectification. Then do about 500 unknown charts and be able to consistently accurate predict without knowing the native or their life history. If someone does do this, I will be happy to be their student!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Procyon Consecration Election & USNO Page

Folks, I was really surprised by the strong positive response to the new Procyon/Jupiter double talismans Note the image of a frizzly rooster!

We've shipped the new talismans and many will have already received them. Since this is both a Jupiter and a Procyon talisman combined, it should get both a Jupiter and a separate Procyon personal consecration, unless you can find a combined election. Obviously this may not be possible, so two separate elections are fine.

Ok, let's step back a bit and talk about the personal consecration. Now all Renaissance Astrology talismans and in fact all astrological talismans, need to be consecrated when they are created. We need to create astrological talismans at an astrologically auspicious time and also to call the appropriate spirit into them at that time. So all Renaissance Astrology talismans are "charged" though I prefer the formulation, ensouled.

The personal consecration is for the user to courteously introduce themselves to the spirit or spirits of the talisman. To bring the "energy" already in the talisman to the user. What this means is that since the talisman is already created, and the energies present at the time of the making fixed, that the election for the personal consecration is much less crucial. We just want to get in touch with the spirits.

So for Jupiter this is pretty easy, use the planetary hour of Jupiter. The planetary day is a bonus, but the hour is key.

For Procyon and other fixed stars, while we would like the Moon applying to conjoin, sextile or trine of the fixed star for a talisman, for a personal consecration we can have the fixed star just rising or culminating.

So we are lucky to have the USNO to provide us with the times of planet and star risings, transitings (what we call culminating) and settings. Here is the special USNO page.

In this case, it is even easier because Procyon is one of the celestial objects specifically listed on the page. I'm going to go further and provide a good date, September 18, 2014 when the Moon is applying to conjoin Procyon. So for that date plug in your location and select Procyon. Then look for Procyon transiting. Start your personal consecration 10-15 minutes before this time and end 10-15 minutes after.

Easy! Thanks USNO!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Traditional and Modern Astrologers: Never the twain shall meet?

I recently had someone on my discussion group Spiritus Mundi ask me about the void of course Moon in fixed star elections.

One of the nice things about having practiced, taught and wrote about traditional astrology for close to 15 years is that I find that I have often already answered a lot of questions.

Here's a post on exactly this question: Fixed Stars and Void of Course Moon

And in fact it references another post that gives a nice run down on modern astrology Retrograde Planet Riff

It's interesting also because I tend to differ from some other traditional astrologers in terms of who the best audience is to get interested in traditional astrology. A certain number of traditional astrologers think that modern astrologers are a good audience to convert to traditional. Now certainly a good number of now traditional astrologers may have started with modern. I think I was lucky because I never trained in or used modern before learning traditional. Lucky? Not because traditional is necessarily so superior, but just that I didn't have to unlearn anything.

This is a serious problem! Prospective students ask if they aren't disadvantaged taking my courses because they know nothing about astrology. I tend to say again that they are lucky because they can start from scratch.

Compared to most other New Age "sciences" modern astrology is pretty difficult. You do have to learn the planets, signs and aspects. You do need to look at a chart. This does take some effort. Why would you want to toss all that and learn a different method? Even more confusing is that fact that most modern astrologers aren't aware that there are other schools of astrology or that there is any reason not to use any and all techniques of any and all schools simultaneously. Finally there is a philosophical problem. Traditional astrology predicts, traditional astrology openly accepts and in fact depends on Fate. Modern astrology weirdly enough denies Fate and makes disguised predictions. Moderns like modern astrology because it fits them better.

This makes traditional astrology a hard sell to modern astrologers. Throw in magic and you've really got a problem. Magic definitely gives modern astrologers the heebie-jeebies. So my view tends to be that modern astrologers are not the best audience for traditional astrology or astrological magic.

Who is? A pretty diverse, but small group. Unlike modern astrology, traditional seems to be about 50-50 men and women. Traditional astrologers and astrological magicians are scattered all over the world. What they all share is a consuming passion for these ancient arts, consuming enough to put in the considerable time and effort required for mastery. Many people describe how traditional astrology and astrological magic call to them, how they feel inexorably drawn to it. That's certainly how I felt and still feel!