Sunday, June 28, 2009

Astrology & Spiritual Alignment

I was recently asked about how one would time an astrological painting. The question appeared to be a reference to Marsilio Ficino's discussion of creating an image of the Cosmos or universal image in Three Books on Life, Bk III, ch 19. This image, says Ficino, should be done when the Sun enters the first minute of Aries as this is the moment of the rebirth of the world.

Now how would we go about this in practical terms? Ficino speaks of sculpting an archetypal form of the world in bronze or imprinting the image on a thin gilded plate of silver. TBOL, Bk III, ch 19. Thus this could be done with a stamp, which is what Hiebner recommends in Mysterium Sigillorum, at 163-4.

We also use the casting process or acid etching glass, both of which can be done in a relatively short time, thus allowing for the actual image to be created and for the talisman to take on its definitive form at the elected time.

Now when we are dealing with slower methods we have to adapt somewhat. We can, for example, begin a painting at an elected time. We can, using modern giclee printing technology, print out the finished painting on canvas or just on paper using a standard printer at an elected time.

We can also work only in particular planetary hours. Simon Forman, the 17th century astrological magician, describes how a jeweler engraved a Jupiter talisman for him in just this fashion, working only in the hours of Jupiter. Notorious Astrological Physician of London, Traister at 100-1.

These are all practical considerations having to do with astrological timing. What is useful to realize, however, is the deeper process that we are engaged in. Traditional astrology is a way to bring ourselves into alignment with the cycles of the Heavens, and thus with the Cosmos and ultimately with the One. It has a significant temporal focus, but is also a universal language, capable of describing and classifying everything in the Cosmos.

Take, for example, planetary rulership. Every material thing is ruled by one or more planets, which is to say that we consider a particular Divine Idea mediated through a planet to predominate in that thing. For example, Venus rules roses when we consider that beauty and a beautiful aroma is the main quality of the rose. Of course, all planets are in all things in differing quantities. In the rose, the thorns are ruled by Mars, for example.

Thus while we can see how timing comes to the fore, traditional astrology points us to a much more comprehensive alignment which has both material and spiritual significance.

An astrological painting, therefore, could also be one that is based on astrological themes and is used as part of ritual, one that graces a building sited and designed astrologically, in a city, as Hermes was reputed to have done,

"It was he who in the east of Egypt constructed a City 12 miles long within which he constructed a castle which had four gates in each of its four parts. On the eastern gate he placed the form of an Eagle; on the western gate, the form of a Bull; on the southern gate, the form of a Lion, and on the northern gate, the form of a Dog. Into these images he introduced spirits that spoke with voices, nor could anyone enter the gates of the City except by their permission.

There he planted trees in the midst of which was a great tree which bore the fruit of all generation. On the summit of the Castle he caused to be built a tower 30 cubits high on the top of which he ordered to be placed a lighthouse the color of which changed every 7th day...Around the circumference of the City he placed engraved images and ordered them in such a manner that by their virtue the inhabitants were made virtuous and withdrawn from all wickedness and harm. And the name of the City was Adocentyn."

Picatrix, Bk IV, ch.3

Christopher Warnock

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Natal is not Horary is not Astrological Magic

One of the things that is hard, even for experienced traditional astrologers to recognize, is that different areas of astrology apply significantly different rules and methodologies. I have seen traditional natal astrologers denigrate horary as simplistic, as the technique is not as complex as traditional natal, but then utterly fail to make accurate horary predictions because they tried to judge the horary using natal techniques. Horary may have simpler technique, but the level of precision and accuracy required is much higher.

We need to understand that every area of astrology has its own methods and even its own underlying principles.

This is true with regard to astrological magic. It is somewhat confusing, I realize, but in a fixed star talisman election, everything other than than the fixed star being well placed and unafflicted and the Moon applying to the fixed star and being unafflicted is basically irrelevant to the election. In other words, if they are not aspecting or otherwise actively interacting with the Moon or the fixed star, the other planets, house rulers, houses, etc., need not be considered. The focus really is on getting the fixed star powerfully positioned and aspected by the Moon.

The problem comes from porting over the standard natal approach in which the entire chart is important. In a birth chart every house and every planet is meaningful since it relates to a different facet of the life of the native (person whose natal chart is being examined).

Contrast this with horary astrology, looking at the chart of a question, in which only a limited number of houses, house rulers and astrological factors are relevant to the analysis.

Similarly, in horary's sister science, electional astrology, which is used to choose astrologically auspicious times, only a limited portion of the chart is relevant.

Our focus narrows even further in astrological magic with non-house based talismans, i.e. planetary, fixed star and Mansion talismans. With regard to fixed star talismans Agrippa says,

"...when any star ascends fortunately, with the fortunate aspect or conjunction of the Moon, we must take a stone, and herb that is under that star, and make a ring of that metal that is suitable to this star and fasten the stone, putting the herb, or root under it; not omitting the inscriptions of images, names and characters, also the proper suffumigations..."

Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk. I, Chapter 47

Since culminating is almost as powerful as rising, we also use culminating for fixed stars. What we are doing is putting the fixed star in the most powerful position, ie either rising or culminating.

We then make sure the Moon is applying to a sextile or trine, or best yet a conjunction of the fixed star. As Picatrix says,

"And draw your attention to the Moon in all works [of magic] as if it were the chief of all the other planets because it brings about evident manifestations and judgments [?] in all things in the world and it pertains to the power of generation and corruption and she is the mediatrix [female intermediary] in the advance of your work, receiving the influences and impressions of the stars and planets and pouring them out to the inferiors of this world. "

Picatrix, Bk II, ch 3.

Thus the Moon gathers the power of the fixed star and brings it from the 8th sphere to the sublunary realm and to the user of the talisman. We focus on the placement of the fixed star, the applying positive aspect of the Moon and finally making sure neither the Moon nor the fixed star are afflicted. We do not, however, start roaming all over the chart, worrying about the Sun in the 8th house, the affliction of Saturn by the South Node and mostly certainly not the progressed Black Lilith conjunct the Galactic Vertex! We have our electional methodology as explained in our traditional sources and this is what we apply. If we use the methods of our illustrious predecessors applied using their philosophy and world view, then we can achieve their amazing results!

So, it is important to take each area of astrology, even traditional astrology, on its own terms and not apply techniques and principles willy nilly from one area to another.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Using a Natal Chart to Pick Talismans

I've had a number of e-mails following on the latest set of e-mails asking how talismans relate to the birth chart.

First of all it appears that in traditional Western astrologer the choice of talismans was more task than natal chart oriented. In other words clients or the mage themselves were thinking more about what they wanted to accomplish, eg wealth, love, success, rather than starting with their birth chart. That being said, Picatrix says that planetary invocations and by extension, planetary talismans are stronger when the planet itself is strong in the birth chart of the user. Picatrix, Bk I, ch 5, trans Greer & Warnock at 42.

So it makes sense to take a look at the natal chart of the user and see what planets are strong, weak and afflicted and use that as an aid in choosing talismans. Let's look at a specific chart as an example. Here's a chart from my
example Full Natal Reading
for 11:51 am MST September 17, 1936 Boise, Idaho

Jupiter, the natural ruler of wealth, is quite strong in this chart being dignified by sign and triplicity

Venus, natural ruler of love, is also well dignified by sign

Mars, natural ruler of strength, determination and success, is dignified by face

The Sun, natural ruler of health, fame and promotion & the Moon, natural ruler of growth, safety and prophecy, are peregrine and thus weak

Mercury, natural ruler of memory, intelligence, communications and business, is dignified by triplicity, but retrograde.

Saturn, natural ruler of discipline and occult wisdom, is peregrine and retrograde.

This native (person whose natal chart is being examined) would get a strong effect from Jupiter and Venus. Mars, the Sun and the Moon would all benefit from talismans, though the effect would not be as noticeable as Jupiter and Venus. Mercury is mixed in dignity and debility and could benefit from a talisman. Saturn, being a malefic and retrograde without dignity, is probably best avoided.

Now this chart has an interesting feature. Normally fixed stars or Mansions are compatible with everyone, unless they are afflicted or negatively affected in the natal chart which is unusual. In this chart, Spica, the most benefic of fixed stars, is conjunct the Moon! This makes Spica a good choice for a talisman for this native.

So, interesting example. I include a full Talismanic Prescription
with all my natal readings including
the Astrological Checkup
Spiritual Path Reading
and Full Natal Reading .

Also if you are seriously interested in buying a talisman, I am happy to see if it is compatible with your birth chart. Just e-mail me at with the talisman or talismans you are interested and your date and place of birth, plus time if you know it, though time is necessary for testing talisman compatibility.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Astrology & the Fractal Nature of Reality

I recently had a series of posts on my discussion group Spiritus Mundi regarding the question of timing in horary questions.

I agree that philosophically "As Above, So Below" that the timing SHOULD be in the chart, but my experience is that it is clearly there maybe 40%-60% of the time. Clear enough that is, that you can see it and predict it in advance, not look back and twist the chart around to fit the known results.

Part of the problem is some confusion, I think, over what it is we are doing when we look at a chart. The standard way to approach the chart is an analytical method: we break the chart down into its component parts and try to determine what each component means. "Moon in the 1st means X" "Part of Fortune conjunct the Ascendant means Y"

Analytical chart delineation basically involves the application of more or less strict and invariant rules to the chart at hand. Meaning comes from the individual factors in the chart and eventually one could create a expert software program to replicate this type of analysis.

However, my view is that the process of chart delineation is synthetic, not analytic, which is to say that ultimately we try to see through the chart to grasp the underlying holistic pattern that it is expressing.

Ok, what do I mean by synthetic? This is a process, not of breaking down, but of observing all of the relevant factors in the chart and seeing how they fit together. The meaning derives from the interaction of all of the parts, not from each part having its own invariant meaning. The Moon in the 1st, for example, can mean 15 different things, depending on the context, that is to say depending on the other factors in the chart. This is one of trickier parts of traditional astrology to master, for example being retrograde is considered an affliction, except in a lost item question if the quesited significantor (significator of the lost item) is retrograde this is positive because it is an indication that the item will be returned.

This synthetic process is why we look at multiple chart factors, why we do not rely on a single factor for our prediction. Each chart reflects a situation and each situation as we know from Hermetic philosophy is a ordered patterning. It is this connected pattern that we seek, that we try to glimpse through the chart.

Our search for timing rules that are invariably applicable to every chart, therefore, may well be fruitless. It may simply be that the factors that combine to produce the exact timing are so complex that they are frequently unpredictable as a practical matter. This may be a result of the dual existence of Fate and Free Will. It is indeed odd that the overall patterning or patterning at certain levels is highly obvious and predictable, but the patterning at intermediate levels is so complex as to defy exact prediction. This is reminiscent of fractal patterning as you zoom in or out on a particular part. Ultimately this combination of highly patterned events and unpredictability plus Fate and Free Will is the nature of Reality. Trippy indeed!