Friday, December 17, 2010

House Based Talismans & the Tree of Wealth

The absolute height of astrological magic, the most difficult to elect and the most powerful astrological talismans are the house based talismans. These are based, not on the power of a single planet, star or other astrological factor, but on the combination of multiple planets ruling key houses. While the typical astrological talismans requires 4-5 factors, house talismans can call for up to 15 separate factors.

Our key source for house based talismans are Picatrix and De Imaginibus On Images or Talismans, by the Harranian Sabian sage Thabit Ibn Qurra. When my students get to the house based talisman lesson, which is one of the last lessons in the Astrological Magic Course they have already mastered planetary, Mansions of the Moon, fixed star and decan/face talismans. Everybody finds house based talismans tough to do, because finding elections for them with so many factors are so difficult. But the work is worth it, since these are truly the most powerful, most intense talismans.

There are important differences between planetary and house based talismans and I've had to do some real thinking about what is actually going on when we worth with a house based talisman. When we make a planetary talisman we get the basic energy of that planet. We can check out how the planet is in our natal chart to see if we are compatible with its basic energy, but its house placement in our natal chart doesn't change the basic energy of the planet. Just because we have Saturn ruling the 7th, doesn't turn Saturn into a love talisman!

I look at house based talismans like a celestial repertory theater. "A repertory theatre can be a theatre in which a resident company presents works from a specified repertoire, usually in alternation or rotation" The planets are the actors, the houses are different roles they can take on, and the chart for specific election, for a particular time, date and place, shows the complete script for a play. A curse talisman, with afflicted planets and bad aspects, is a tragedy, a benefic talisman, with dignified planets and good aspects, could be a love story, with the 1st and 7th (love & marriage) houses and their rulers well dignified and well connected with good aspects or house placement, or a rags to riches story with the focus on the 1st, 2nd (wealth) and 10th (success, fame, career) houses. Now each of the planets is capable of ruling any house and playing the role of that house well if highly dignified. If we line up the natural rulership with the house rulership, it is like type casting, have John Wayne play the cowboy.

We've been blessed for the past few years with Jupiter, the natural ruler of wealth and prosperity, well dignified. We've been able to do some beautiful Jupiter talismans and we've been able to type cast Jupiter as a key component in some very powerful house based wealth talismans. First the Great Wealth talisman, now sold out, with the last one selling for $900. Then the Fountain of Wealth, which are almost sold out and going for $499.95 and finally the newest and last of our Jupiter "type cast" house based wealth talismans, the Tree of Wealth

The Great Wealth, I looked out for the next 50 years and could not duplicate the conditions. The Fountain of Wealth, at least 12 years, before we can make them again. This means that the Tree of Wealth is really your last chance to get these strongest of wealth talismans, at least until Jupiter goes into Cancer in 2013.

The Tree of Wealth election has a tiny window, just about 5 minutes, when everything lines up right. This means that Wade, our jeweler/mage, is only going to be able to make a tiny amount of the Tree of Wealth talismans. I had started out with pre-orders at $199.95 plus shipping and we have now sold out this slot, and the pre-order price is $249.95 plus shipping.

We have only a few slots available at that price and the price will increase to $299.95 as soon as the talismans are cast and are in stock. You can, if you want, do a layaway and hold that $249.95 price, if you want to pay at least $100 now and the remainder when the talismans come in in January. Contact me if you want more info. But otherwise, the price of the Tree of Wealth talismans are going up and up and up!

Let me just say a bit about the election and the talismans themselves. In the election, which you can see here our key players are a very dignified Moon waxing in Taurus, who rules the 1st house of the user of the talisman and the 2nd house of wealth, making the user strong, powerful and increasing in strength as well as pumping up their wealth and income. Jupiter, natural ruler of wealth rules the 10th of success, fame and career. The Moon sextiles Jupiter, and there is a nice transfer of light as she aspects the Sun who aspects Jupiter.

The Tree of Wealth talisman image was created by the visionary contemporary artist Robert Place and feature his Tree of Wealth design with a beautiful tree blossoming with coins stamped with Moon & Jupiter sigils. On the tree itself is Robert's vision of the infinite wealth sigil!

These talismans are the first of our new streamlined designs. We've tried out many different sizes and thicknesses of talismans over the years and have had feedback requesting that we try out a more sleek design, so the Tree of Wealth talismans are about 1.1 inches in diameter, rather than the standard 1.3 inches and a bit trimmer.

House based talismans really represent the height of mastery of astrological magic and it has been exciting to delve into their mysteries. Only now I am beginning to understand how lucky we are to have found these super wealth talisman elections! And I can tell you from personal experience that they work! The elections for these wealth talismans have coincided with huge surges in my business, fame and income. While I can't always predict exactly what will happen, I KNOW that these talismans WORK!

Definitely worth thinking about, even if you just want to put a down a layaway payment.

More info on the Tree of Wealth talismans

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thoughts on Deconsecration

Recently I had a couple of requests from clients and students for information about deconsecrating talismans.

Basically the method I use for deconsecration is pretty straightforward. Repeat whatever ritual you used to consecrate the talisman in the first place, but thank the spirit(s) for their efforts on your behalf and ask leave the talisman or withdraw their powers from it. Then respectfully dispose of the talisman. In the case of paper talisman they can be burnt, other talismans can be thrown into running water.

However, in thinking about deconsecration, I realized some bigger issues were involved. Personally, I have only ever deconsecrated one set of talismans. These were Jupiter talismans that I made on Jupiter day and hour, but with Jupiter in detriment and retrograde! Needless to say a very bad idea and I promptly started losing large amounts of money. These were not wealth talismans, they were poverty talismans!

Other than that, however, I haven't deconsecrated any talismans. I hadn't really thought about it before, but I don't feel comfortable getting rid of talismans. As I think about this feeling, I realized that it comes from my basic approach to talismanic magic, which is only one of several ways to orient yourself in this area.

One way to look at talismanic magic is what could be termed the "modern" approach. Here spiritual forces are analogized to scientifically verifiable forms of energy and matter. Jupiter, for example, puts out certain waves or a force field or something and consecrating a talisman is basically like charging a battery. Just like a battery, when you are through with it, you throw it away. Worrying about the feelings of the battery or the battery charger would be ridiculous! They are inanimate, dead objects separate from you, who exist simply to serve you.

The next possible approach comes from traditional ceremonial or grimoiric magic, particularly goetic magic. Here the magician and their will is paramount. The magician stands at the center of their protective circle and commands the spirits to appear. The magician needs various types of protection against the spirits, but through knowledge and above all will, forces the spirit(s) to do their bidding.

Finally there is what might be termed the "devotional" approach. Here the planets, stars, etc, are seen as gods or basically angelic spirits, from a higher sphere. The mage does not really command the spirits, but always strives to be respectful of these powerful beings who are basically benign, if properly approached. While you can petition for particular effects from these spirits, they are more looking out for your long term interests, rather than necessarily granting your short term desires. The devotional approach is typical of Vedic astrology.

Now depending on which approach you take, your attitude toward deconsecration is going to differ. For the modern approach, when you are done with a talisman or if you are not immediately satisfied with it, you just toss it out. Similarly with the goetic approach, once you are done, toss it, but in this case you would want to make sure that you thoroughly deconsecrated the talisman so you didn't get any blowback.

With the devotional approach, however, tossing a talisman is like tossing out a gift a friend gave you and telling them. Or perhaps like defriending your rich uncle on Facebook. If you are just dealing with impersonal forces, or if you are the center of the universe and most powerful being in it, then you needn't worry about how your actions come across. If, however, these are powerful beings with personalities then you have to start thinking about etiquette!

I've gravitated to the devotional approach because it suits me and seems to most accurately reflect my experiences as well as being in line with many traditional sources. Certainly the ceremonial magic approach is traditional as well, though it is somewhat of an extension to use that approach with astrological spirits. If we look at the Picatrix invocations, in particularly the lengthy planetary invocations attributed to the Harranian Sabians in Book III, chapter 7, the commanding of the spirits is de-emphasized, though still present and most of the invocation consists of listing the attributes of the planets. The protective circles, clothing and equipment, so characteristic of goetic invocation are missing. Certainly the invocations involve petitions and specific requests but the adaptation of these invocations from the standard religious and devotional practice of the Sabians is evident.

One of the reasons that I like the practice of planetary charity which comes from the Vedic astrology of India, is that it derives from their basically devotional approach.

So, personally my preference is for the devotional approach. That is not to say that this is the "BEST" for everyone in all situations, but it has its advantages. Early on when we were just starting to work with the Mansions of the Moon, a magician with a strong Goetic connection decided to invoke a Mansion spirit using the full Key of Solomon style ritual with the strong imprecations and commands, etc. The being he got claimed to be a Mansion spirit, but then proceeded to make a deal with the magician for rum and tobacco and then not carry out what he promised to do.

On the other hand, I have a very strong personal connection to the spirit of the 3rd Mansion of the Moon, who I invoke every time the Moon enters the 3rd Mansion. I simply praise her and thank her for her efforts, ask her to continue to bring "all good things" and burn a candle and incense. Having done this for about 4 years now, I invariably get a boost in business around her day each month and 3 months this year, the 3rd Mansion day was the biggest business day of the month!

Ficino says,

"I have said elsewhere that down from every single star (so to speak Platonically) there hangs its own series of things down to the lowest...Under the celestial Serpent or the entire constellation of the Serpent-bearer, they place Saturn and sometimes Jupiter, afterwards daemons who often take on serpent's form, in addition men of this kind, serpents (the animals), the snake-weed, the stone draconite which originates in the head of a dragon, and the stone commonly called serpentine..

Ficino, Three Books on Life Bk. III, Chap. 14, p. 311.

My sense is that the Goetic magician, in using Goetic methods, summoned a Goetic spirit in the chain of the Mansion, rather than the Mansion lord.

Ultimately, it seems that what you put out and the attitude and methods in which you do your magic comes back to you!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Credit Card for William Lilly!

Yesterday I got this letter in the mail!

All William needs to do now is provide his date of birth, 1 May (O.S.)/11 May (N.S.), 1602 and SSN and he can start buying stuff on credit. Thanks, Bank of America! This gives me new found faith in the accuracy and careful vetting done by our financial system.

I've heard about dogs getting credit card offers and dead people getting them isn't really that surprising, except Lilly has been dead over 300 years!

At first I was, "hey, why didn't I get one of these offers?" and then I realized I'm on the "Do Not Solicit for Credit Cards" list. I can see William needs to get on this list too!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Deeper Soul Horary

I thought I might share some thoughts I had recently as a result of working with a long time client. This client and I have had a long relationship. I do lots of different work for them, often having to do with business. I have a reasonable record of horaries with regard to individual business deals. The client would like me to be able to do financial trading horaries, but my record with these is rather hit or miss. I did, however, do some personal romance horaries for this client recently and they were blown away by the accuracy.

Why the difference? I think the key and the client confirms this, is that the romance horaries, really hit the deepest emotionally. It's certainly not that the client doesn't care about the financial trading horaries, they want to make the money and worry about losing it. It's just that these questions don't really get into the root of the person, even if they are worried.

I've certainly never had much success with stock trading or other financial speculation horaries. They just don't seem like "juicy" questions to me. I know lots and lots of people would love to be able to use astrology this way. Certainly my poorer clients want to win the lottery with astrology and my middle class clients want to hit it big on the stock market, same difference really. I've certainly met lots of astrologers that want to be able to predict the markets and have lots of confidence that they have a foolproof method. I guess that when they do make their millions, they just want to keep quiet about it because I never seem to hear about this!

But romantic relationships? These get people at their very core and give very good charts, very easy to read and very accurate. I guess this is a good thing because I get more of these than any other question.

And this really is the key to horary isn't it? The emotional involvement of the querent. Bonatti says,

1st Consideration. on those things which move a man to pose a question (and there are three motions). The first is the motion of the soul, when someone is moved by his intention to pose a question. The second is the motion of the superior bodies, namely when someone asks what they are impressing into the quesited thing, what will come of it. The third is the motion of the free will, which can itself be an action of the one asking. Because even thought the soul is moved to ask, it does not suffice unless the superior bodies lead him to pose the question; nor does the motion of the stars suffice, unless form the motion of the free will the act of asking is reached.

Guido Bonatti, Book of Astronomy, Tr. 5, 146 Considerations, trans
Dykes (Cazimi Press, 2007) at 264.

The relationship question goes deeper into the soul than the trading question, at least so it seems to me!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How to Do Fixed Star Talisman Elections

My software guy, Peter, was working on a new program, Stellis, for fixed star elections, but he is having problems with illness in his family so I don't know if Stellis is going to get off the ground. Basically it would have automated the process of fixed star elections for the 15 fixed stars discussed by Hermes.

But, lacking that, we have to do things by hand. (heh, heh, heh!) Well, maybe not strictly by hand since we can use astrological software.

Here is the recipe:

(1) Fixed star rising or culminating, ie within 3-5 degrees of the Ascendant or Midheaven. Rising, start within 3 degrees of the Ascendant in the 1st house, middle of time range should be star right on the Ascendant and end when star is 3-5 degrees into 12th house. Similarly on Midheaven, start 3-5 degrees in the 10th house, middle of election when star is right on Midheaven and stop when star is 3-5 degrees into 9th house.

(2) Moon applying to fixed star. Best is conjunction, sextile or trine also usable. Must be applying, not separating.

(3) Moon and fixed star unafflicted,i.e., no applying oppositions or squares of any planet, no applying conjunctions of Saturn, Mars or planets afflicted, or South Node. Moon and star not combust, (within 8.5 degrees of Sun).

Ok, how to do apply this recipe?

If you have Solar Fire or other astrological software, you can use it, basically following the instructions below, but hopefully if you already have astrological software you know how to change the date and time.

A good free online chart drawing program is Astrodienst at
Here are their free horoscopes

Choose Chart Drawing, Ascendant

Go ahead and put in your location and current date and time.

Click continue and you get a chart.

Look and see what sign the Moon is in. Right now, 10 am CST, November 30, 2010 the Moon is at 2 Libra.

Go to Hermes on the 15 Fixed Stars and look for a star that does what you want it to do. For example, Spica is good for wealth. Look and see where Spica is in the Zodiac as listed on the page, Spica is at 23 Libra 47, or 23 degree of Libra and 47 minutes. Degrees are close enough so Spica is at 23 degrees of Libra.

Ok, so go to your chart and at the top right hand it says "edit data" for whatever you have named the chart. I named mine Spica.

I changed the date to December 1st, 2010, still 10 am CST, and the Moon is at 16 Libra, getting closer.

December 2, 2010, 10 am CST and the Moon is at 0 Scorpio, too far!

So December 1st, 2010 is the possible day for Spica. At 10 am CST, the Moon is past the Midheaven, so let's try 8 am CST, at that time Midheaven is 9 Libra, so we need to go a bit later. 8:30 am CST is 17 Libra, getting closer. Since we need 23 Libra on the Midheaven, I kept adding smaller and smaller increments of time, until I got 8:50 am CST on December 1st, when 23 Libra is on the Midheaven.

Moon is at 15 Libra 48, a bit less than 8 degrees from Spica and the Midheaven at 23 Libra, and applying.

Moon is not making any bad applying aspects and Moon & Spica are unafflicted.

Ok, 8:50 am CST is the middle of the time range. 8:40 am gives us 20 Libra on the Midheaven, so that's a good start, though you could push it back further and 9 am, with 26 Libra on the Midheaven, is a good stop time.

So I would start my talisman creation at 8:40 am CST on December 1, 2010, and then get started on my consecration ritual before 9 am CST. If the consecration takes longer than the election time range that's fine, just try to get the talisman made during the elected time and start the ritual ASAP.

That's how it's done!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Official Governmental and Scientific Attitude to Astrology

Ok, finally, I have it, the official statement of the scientific community and the United States government with regard to astrology. This is from the National Science Foundation which is an official US government agency and specifically from the National Science Board's Science and Engineering Indicators 2006, chapter 7 Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding, Belief in Pseudoscience

"A recent study of 20 years of survey data collected by NSF concluded that "many Americans accept pseudoscientific beliefs," such as astrology, lucky numbers, the existence of unidentified flying objects (UFOs), extrasensory perception (ESP), and magnetic therapy (Losh et al. 2003). Such beliefs indicate a lack of understanding of how science works and how evidence is investigated and subsequently determined to be either valid or not. Scientists, educators, and others are concerned that people have not acquired the critical thinking skills they need to distinguish fact from fiction. The science community and those whose job it is to communicate information about science to the public have been particularly concerned about the public's susceptibility to unproven claims that could adversely affect their health, safety, and pocketbooks."

Note that this report does not limit itself to stating that astrology is outside the purview of science, but denigrates it as a "pseudoscience" and that belief in astrology indicates that one has "not acquired the critical thinking skills they need to distinguish fact from fiction."

What is also telling about the report is that it repeatedly equates the term "scientific" with being valid and unscientific with being false. Interesting that it stops with astrology, ESP and UFOs and isn't honest enough to label transubstantiation, angels and God as unscientific also. Well, that would violate the science/religion truce in which science gets to define reality, using atheistic/materialist philosophy, but the religious get to keep on believing irrationally in that which clearly does not exist as matter or energy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The College of Astrology Trap!

I stumbled across a new "esoteric" institute today and immediately noticed that they wanted to be cool, hip and with it and associate themselves with astrology, alchemy and magic, but they wanted to be official, legitimate and academic at the same time. They had cool sounding classes, but also a plagiarism policy. They had classes "about" esoteric subjects, but not actually teaching any practical applications and all their faculty members needed academic degrees. Ah, the latest either victims or perpetrators of the College of Astrology Trap!

Kepler College was the probably the most famous example of the College of Astrology Trap. Kepler was set up with great hoopla and huzzahs, particularly from the modern astrological "community" Kepler was going to be a degree granting, fully accredited university of astrology. Eventually hopes were that it would have a campus, but to start, students would travel in regularly after having correspondence courses most of the time. Kepler would follow the standard American academic model, have academically qualified lecturers, obviously the best way to teach.

Frankly I was always skeptical, right from the get go. Personally, I had a great time at college in the US, but I can't say that I really learned that much. Law school, in terms of learning, was an utter and complete waste of time and landed me with $50,000 in debt. Certainly from the standpoint of social prestige college and particularly law school was useful and I got my union card punched, but it was an extremely wasteful and expensive way not to learn. And let's face it, the real point of college is to get a job. Which college you go to ranks you and your grades rank you and then employers use this ranking to hire you for something that has nothing to do with what you ostensibly studied.

This made Kepler College particularly ridiculous. First of all, it was NEVER going to get accredited. They had a heckuva time even getting the provisional right to grant degrees, while the opposition from the atheistic/materialist elite completely blocked any chance of granting accredited degrees. Secondly, even if they had managed to get accredited, how were you going to get a job with an astrology degree? So in other words, from a usual, practical standpoint of a normal American college education you would have wasted thousands of dollars getting a useless degree.

From the standpoint of actually teaching astrology, on the other hand, Kepler was also really off base. My opinion is that the standard American style university teaching method is a terrible way to learn anything. While that's certainly debatable, it certainly is extremely expensive. For what Kepler students were paying for a year of the multi-year programs, you could take all of my courses, Deb Houlding's courses, Zoller's course that New Library "liberated" from him, a whole slew of other traditional astrology courses, though it might not also stretch to John Frawley's 2,000 pound horary course.

Of course, the other problem that Kepler had was that it was trying so desperately hard to be accepted by the academic establishment that it had to keep de-emphasizing actual astrology and keep pushing more and more deeply into studying "about" astrology and those silly, misguided, quaint old souls long ago, who actually bought into its foolishness. Those who can't or rather refuse to do it, teach it. Truly the motto of modern academia, particularly when atheistic/materialism is the required philosophical outlook.

So Kepler ended up being overpriced, teaching less and less actual astrology, but not being academic enough and denying astrology enough to get accredited, thus being the most famous victim/perpetrator of the College of Astrology trap. They were not the first and will not be the last to try to bridge the unbridgeable, just like those that insist that science and spirituality are drawing closer together.

Now, of course there are those that merely fly under false colors, without trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. We have the academics who get a frisson of excitement from the unwary and author learned treatises on astrology while denouncing those that would be so irrational as to actually practice it. We have the bogus granting of "degrees" by schools of astrology, aping the academics.

It saddens me, however, that we cannot see how corrupt and empty the American system of "education" is. Traditional astrologers are very lucky that Kepler College did not succeed because it might well have taken us down the wrong path. We need to structure our teaching in a traditional manner so our student really do learn traditional astrology, not in some stripped down, twisted, expensive distortion as part of the American dis-education machine in the atheistic/materialist establishment.

I have a very spiritual friend that was a wandering hippie in the 70s. He never went to college and only eventually got his GED. Nevertheless he is one of the most educated and erudite people that I know. People regularly mistake him for a professor of English or Literature, but he is so widely read that he taught himself. For myself, I am almost entirely an autodidact. In addition, I was extremely lucky to be able to study traditional astrology with a teacher who had both theoretical knowledge and was a very experienced practicing astrologer. This apprentice/master method is the absolute best way to learn and I am proud to take my place as first a student and now a teacher in the great Chain of traditional astrological education. Free your mind and the rest, will most certainly follow!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ritual Use of Candles & Free Beeswax Candle with Talisman Order

I just thought I would post a few thoughts regarding the ritual use of candles. Lamps, which use a fuel that is liquid at room temperature and a wick, were more prevalent in the classical period in the Mediterranean, but by the Middle Ages and Renaissance, certainly in northern Europe, candles, which use a solid fuel and wick, predominated.

Picatrix, written circa 1000 AD mentions both candles and lamps for magical and ritual use. Agrippa has a whole chapter on lights, colors and candles at Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk I, ch 49. Light, says Agrippa, has very special properties, originating in the mind of the One and diffusing through the 3 Worlds, Divine, Celestial and Material.

"Also there are made artificially some Lights, by Lamps, Torches, Candles, and such like, of some certain thing, and liquors opportunely chosen, according to the rule of the Stars, and composed amongst themselves according to their congruity, which when they be lighted, and shine alone, are wont to produce some wonderfull, and Celestiall effects" Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk I, ch 49

Agrippa lists the various colors appropriate to the planets:

For all colours, black, lucid, earthy, leaden, brown, have relation to Saturne.
Saphire and airy colours, and those which are alwaies green, clear,
purple, darkish, golden, mixed with Silver, belong to Jupiter.
Red colours, and burning, fiery, flaming, violet, purple, bloody, and
iron colours, resemble Mars.
Golden, Saffron, purple, and bright colours, resemble the Sun.
But all white, fair, curious, green, ruddy, betwixt saffron, and
purple, resemble Venus, Mercury, and the Moon.

Moreover amongst the houses of the heaven, the first and seventh hath
white colour: the second, and twelfth green: the third, and eleventh
saffron: the fourth, and the tenth red: the fift, and ninth honey
colour: the sixt, and eighth, black.

Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk I, ch 49

Until the 19th century candles were typically made of beeswax or tallow (animal fat). Now most commercially available candles use paraffin which is made from petroleum. Paraffin candles can be dyed so in rootwork and hoodoo (Southern Folk magic) in the early 20th century colored candles began to be widely used.

For rootwork the candle colors were task based:

white -- spiritual blessings, purity, healing, rest
blue -- peace, harmony, joy, kindly intentions, healing
green -- money spells, gambling luck, business, a good job, good crops
yellow -- devotion, prayer, money (gold), cheerfulness, attraction
red -- love spells, affection, passion, bodily vigour
pink -- attraction, romance, clean living
purple -- mastery, power, ambition, control, command
orange -- change of plans, opening the way, prophetic dreams
brown -- court case spells, neutrality
black -- repulsion, dark thoughts, sorrow, freedom from evil

Lucky Mojo candle magic

When I first started doing astrological magic over a decade ago, there was very little authentic medieval or Renaissance astrological magic ritual available so I began with rootwork as my first magical practice. The basic rituals I provide with Renaissance Astrology talismans still have this flavor since I suggest colored candles for various planets. As you can see, however, this makes sense given Agrippa's discussion of candles and colors of lights, even though medieval and Renaissance magicians would not have been using colored candles.

I have actually gone back to medieval and Renaissance practice and started using beeswax candles. Paraffin candles can cause sensitivities due to their fumes. Beeswax candles smell like honey! Beeswax candles are a rich yellow honey color as well. I have been using them for all my ritual work with good results! Now couple of things to mention, they are more expensive than paraffin candles and they do take some futzing around with. You need to keep the wick trimmed and if you get the votive style beeswax candles they can "tunnel" burn down inside and leave thin wax walls. I just fold these in so the candles burns evenly.

I'd like to encourage the use of beeswax candles, so if you buy a talisman from today, November 6 to Sunday November 14, 2010, just remind me and I will include a free 2 inch beeswax votive candle! These are 100% natural, organic and smell just like honey when they burn.

Ok, let me describe how I use candles. I'm very big on mirrors and lights for my altars. If you take a look at one of my earlier altars you can see that I have white votive candles burning on the altar. I try to keep a candle burning in front of the planet of the day. If I am not in the room, out goes the candle! Safety first! DO NOT LEAVE CANDLES BURNING UNATTENDED!

In addition to the constantly burning candle for the planet of the day, I also invoke the spirits of the 3rd and 13th Mansions when the Moon is in those Mansions every month. I start the candle when I do the invocation and then let it burn completely, putting it out and restarting it, when I am in the room. I do the same thing, starting a candle and letting it burn out, when I do any invocation for a talisman.

I really do feel like burning a candle is about the minimum you can do for an invocation. I am rather sensitive to incense smoke and tend to just do micro amounts. For the 3rd and 13th Mansion, I might do just one or two beads of natural resin on a very small piece of charcoal. I certainly couldn't have incense burning all the time, nor do I burn clouds and clouds of it when I do invocations. Still some sort of sacrifice, ie burning incense or at a minimum, a candle does seem necessary. I once was trying to do a Jupiter talisman workshop and we couldn't do incense and the candles didn't work either. So I did the invocation without them and 15 minutes later my Jupiter talisman disappeared! Something had to be sacrificed if there were no candles or incense!

So, personally, I use lots and lots of candles. I buy white or natural beeswax by the case and use them for all my ritual work. This seems to work, but appropriately colored candles work well too. I also tend to use just one candle, though again you can use an appropriate number. Agrippa, in Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk II, ch 22 gives the following numbers

Saturn 3 or 9
Jupiter 4 or 16
Mars 5
Sun 6
Venus 7
Mercury 8
Moon 9

For me, it just wouldn't be a real invocation or ritual without candles and my altar would look bare without its perpetual planetary candle going! So like I said, if you buy a talisman from today, November 6 to Sunday November 14, 2010, just remind me and I will include a free 2 inch beeswax votive candle! These are 100% natural, organic and smell just like honey when they burn. Try out the original, just like Picatrix or Agrippa would have used!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Take on Reception

Ok, reception is another area where we can see change and simplification over the entire range of traditional astrology. The later Renaissance astrologers had simplified the medieval astrology of Bonatti who had already simplified the very complex early medieval Arabic teachings of astrologers like Abu Mashar and Mashallah. Reception is a good example of this, since by the 17th century reception simply meant two planets each in each others sign or exaltation or a combination of sign and exaltation. Thus the Moon in Leo and the Sun in Cancer, or the Moon in Aries and the Sun in Taurus, or the Moon in Aries and the Sun in Cancer. What me might call "17th century reception" is basically mutual reception, by the Renaissance reception and mutual reception have become synonymous.

However, this is another Renaissance simplification. Guido Bonatti, the medieval author of the encyclopedic Book of Astronomy says of reception,

"...if some planet is joined with the Lord of the sign in which it is (or the Lord of the exaltation of the same sign, or with the Lord of the bound [term] or triplicity or face) whether by body [conjunction] or aspect, that planet who is the Lord of the sign (or some dignity of it) commits and gives his own disposition and nature and virtue to it.

It is for instance true if it is joined with the lord of the domicile [sign] exaltation or two of the lesser dignities...but if it is joined only with the lord of the bound [term] or with the lord of the triplicity or with the lord of the face [then] the lord of those dignities or bounds by only one, does not receive him, because they are not of so much virtue that one alone can make reception without the help of another."

Bonatti, Book of Astronomy, Tr III, chapter 13, Dykes trans at 223.

Ok, so what Bonatti is saying is that to have reception you need:

(1) an aspect between the planets [note that because of the nature of separating and applying aspects in horary and electional we need an applying aspect for reception]

(2) At least one of the planets in the dignity of the other.

So, the Sun in Cancer and Moon in Leo would not be in reception according to this definition! Instead in medieval style traditional astrology the Sun in Cancer and Moon in Leo is an example of generosity. See Abu Mashar, Abbreviation of the Introduction to Astrology, trans Burnett, (Arhat 1994) at page 28, note 1, citing the Abu Mashar's Great Introduction.

Now we can get into all sorts of complex permutations of terminology, but I like the clarity of reception requiring an aspect and generosity simply indicating being in the dignity of a planet. Either way this these show a connection and/or special relationship between the planets that are in reception or in generosity and the people or things they signify.

So what difference does reception make? Bonatti, in his section on horary explains that reception makes an aspect more positive, for example a trine or sextile, both good aspects, with reception makes things come easily, while a square with reception indicates it takes effort to get the thing or person desired, while a square without reception requires great trouble.

Bonatti, Book of Astronomy, Tr VI, chapter 2, Dykes trans at 362.

Ok, so this is how I explain reception and generosity. This is certainly not the only way, nor is it the "BEST" way since I don't think that there is one, perfect, best for everyone for all time method. Of course at the same time there are lots and LOTS of plain wrong methods!

Essential & Accidental Dignity

Essential and accidental dignity in astrology derives from a very key traditional philosophical concept, that of qualities that are essential to a thing and those that are accidental. For example, it is an essential quality of water that it is wet, as this is an essential quality, no water can be found that it not wet. However, being salt water or fresh water is an accidental quality because water can possess these qualities or not without altering its basic nature.

Thus essential versus accidental dignity uses this basic philosophical concept though it is a bit altered in astrology. The essential dignity of a planet tracks its course through the degrees of the Zodiac, it is a measure of its basic power from very strong to weak to very afflicted.

Accidental dignity is analogized to accidental qualities and includes things like angularity, (being angular, succeedent or cadent) benefic or malefic house placement (eg, 8th house is succeedent, but malefic) being combust, being retrograde, aspects to malefics or benefics, various conjunctions to fixed stars, house cusps or parts, etc. These are considered to be in addition to the basic power of planet as expressed by its essential dignity.

You can see how Lilly splits up the essential and accidental dignities at Christian Astrology page 115. I agree with the split, if not with the way he has given points to many accidental dignities or the automatic tendency to start add up all these disparate numbers. More on this later!

One possible way to consider this is to think of essential dignity as the qualities of the planet itself and thus the person or thing signified by it, while accidental dignity consists of qualities affecting the person or thing, but external to it. This is not a hard and fast rule, but useful in chart delineation.

Thus we can see why Frawley would say that 2 peregrine planets interacting would be like 2 drunks or 2 sick people helping each other, because they have weak essential dignity. So let's do some more examples, dignified Jupiter applying to trine Venus in detriment, a rich friend helps out a friend in dire straits. A dignified Jupiter applying to oppose Venus dignified, a powerful man argues with an equally powerful enemy. Jupiter afflicted applies to sextiles Venus dignified, the poor man tries to help the rich woman, Mars dignified separates from a square Venus afflicted, the strong warrior leaves his distraught inamorata, &etc.

Ok, the numbers game! In my discussions with Ben Dykes he has alerted me to the fact that the 9th-10th century Arabic astrologers were innovating like crazy. We had a recent discussion about the relative ranking of essential dignities which was in flux in early traditional astrology, but settled down as sign = 5, exaltation = 4, triplicity = 3, term = 2 and face = 1. Correspondingly detriment = -5, fall -4.

The original function of these rankings was to give an idea of relative strength and is certainly useful for that function. The problem is when the numerical ranking takes over and we lose the nuance of the dignities. For example, Bethem's Centiloquim, or his 100 Aphorisms, quoted in John Partridge's Mikropanastron
(London, 1679) pages 322-332, says,

Aphorism 13-A Planet in anothers house who rules the same Trigon, is as a man in the House or Castle of his friend.

Aphorism 14-If Cadent from his House or Exaltation, he is as one absent from his abode.

Aphorism 15-A Planet in his House or Exaltation, is as one in his Castle or strong hold.

Aphorism 16-If in his House or Exaltation Retrograde, he is as a Sick man at home.

These aphorisms give us much more useful information than simply saying 3, 5 or 4!

Where we really go off the rails is starting to assign numbers to the accidental dignities. There is perhaps some value in a very basic sense of getting an idea of their relative strength and affliction, but assigning numbers then invokes an almost unbearable compulsion to start adding the numbers together.


This is problematic with accidental dignities because unlike essential dignities they are very heterogeneous. Being angular is qualitatively not like being retrograde which is not like being conjunct Algol. Then we really run off the rails by adding in the essential dignity rankings. It is not unusual to get astrologers saying, "Jupiter is +21" or "Mercury is -7" which is not only much less illuminating than "Jupiter is in sign and triplicity, rising and trine Venus", or "Mercury is in detriment and cadent" but can be downright misleading.

The key problem is that the accidental and essential dignities are so different from each other. Adding their numbers together is as fallacious as that old joke about making a camel & rabbit stew with equal amounts of camel and rabbit, ie one camel and one rabbit. As a very preliminary way to get a round about idea of approximate strength, numbers are fine for accidental dignity, but even with essential dignity, we risk losing nuance if we rely too much on numerical ranking.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Book of the Treasure of Alexander Now Available!

I am extremely pleased to be able to launch a new Renaissance Astrology publication, the Book of the Treasure of Alexander!

Leafing through the Book of the Treasure of Alexander, we realize that the movie and other fictional depictions of magic and astrology are pale imitations of the real thing. This is a true book of magic, a real glimpse into the hidden spiritual powers scattered among all Nature. Here the ancient mages speak to us, truly revealing their secrets and the secrets of magic. It sounds incredibly romantic, but the reality is even better than the illusion!

The Book of the Treasure of Alexander, attributed to Alexander the Great and his tutor, the philosopher Aristotle, is a medieval Hermetic text of alchemy, astrology and astrological magic. This is the first complete English translation of this key text, originally written in Arabic, which explains a wide variety of practical applications of occult virtue and the hidden powers of Nature. Originally written in Arabic, our text was translated into Portuguese from a critical edition of three Arabic texts and then translated by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold into English. I then extensively edited the text in order to make sure the astrology and astrological magic was accurate and usable. Despite being attributed to Alexander and Aristotle, Hermes Trismegistus and Balinus, our usual suspects when it comes to hermetica, pop up all over the place. This is a classic work of Arabic Hermeticism, with lots of links to Picatrix, but lots of new material, I've never seen either in Picatrix or other works.

First off, the Book of the Treasure of Alexander has extensive new information on Arabic alchemy. There is a long, detailed step by step discussion of how to prepare various "waters" which culminate in the Great Elixir or Philosopher's Stone. What's interesting here is that the usual complex and often confusing symbolic language of alchemy is dispensed with and clear, step by step recipes are provided. Quite fascinating!

The next sections are fairly controversial, in my opinion, because they provide a whole set of different poisons, including the "Royal Water", the "cold poison" and the "poison that kills through laughter". First off, many of the ingredients are difficult or impossible to obtain for the poisons and the instructions for these chapters are often confusing. These poison chapters explain why this book could have been referred to as the Mors Animae, the Death of Soul! Still, just a physician needs to understand the actions of poisons to cure, so too must the mage and the Book of the Treasure of Alexander has a whole set of corresponding chapters on antidotes.

I was inspired, however, by these poison chapters to bring out an entire Poison edition! This is available only in hardcover or deluxe cloth bound, not in paperback, and includes the astrological poisons of Ibn Wahshiyya, most famous for his Nabatean Agriculture and a key medieval mage and scholar. These astrological poisons are really fascinating since they are said to work through sight and sound, not by ingesting the poisons! Very interesting astrological elections and even new planetary invocations are provided. Deadly, but very, very illuminating for the Hermetic scholar. If this interests you, get the Poison Edition, if not get the Standard Edition!

What I am most excited about the Book of the Treasure of Alexander are over 30 new astrological talismans, none of which I have seen before with a whole set of new astrological talismans images from the original Arabic manuscript! Wow! One of the most interesting chapters includes planetary talismans made at the exaltation degrees of each of the planets. I've included the variant versions of the planetary exaltation talismans, but this set is new to me. We have new talismans for wealth, love, health, power, revenge and some fascinating city-wide talismans and talismans used for protecting huge swathes of territory. All very exciting, all new! We even have a new set of planetary invocations for Venus, Mars and Mercury accompanying its section on creating astrological statuettes.

If you are at all interested in Hermeticism, alchemy, astrology or astrological magic, you need to get a copy of the Book of the Treasure of Alexander. This is an original text, straight from sages of the Middle Ages, silent for a millennium, finally speaking to us clearly and succinctly. My major concern as an editor and translator is produce a clear and usable text and the Book of the Treasure of Alexander is definitely that!

The Book of the Treasure of Alexander is available in the following editions. All of the editions have an extensive introduction, appendices, over 120 footnotes and bibliography. All editions contain a variant source appendix with special planetary exaltation talismans.

(1) Paperback, standard edition,
6 x 9, lulu print on demand paperback, 114 pages, decorated with
alchemical sigils and symbols, $34.95 plus shipping

(2) Hardcover, standard edition,
6 x 9, lulu print on demand hardcover, 114 pages, decorated with
alchemical sigils and symbols, $79.95 plus shipping

(3) Hardcover Poison edition
6 x9 lulu on demand hardcover, 134, includes the astrological poisons of Ibn Wahshiyya, decorated with danse macabre motifs, $79.95 plus

(4) Deluxe hand cloth bound Standard or Poison Editions 8.25 x 11 imperial octavo, cloth bound, leather endbands, endpapers,
stamped gold leather spine label, hand made slip cover.

Standard edition, 114 pages, decorated with alchemical sigils and symbols, $299.95 plus shipping.

Poison edition, 134 pages, decorated with danse macabre images, including astrological poisons of Ibn Wahshiyya, $299.95 plus shipping.

These are stunningly beautiful heirloom editions. Each one will be handmade specifically for the owner and can be specially dedicated to you by name. Planetary consecration (Saturn or Mercury are probably most appropriate) is available on request.

Ok, now the pre-order period extends from 4:10 am CDT Saturday, October 2, 2010 to Sunday October 10, 2010. If you order during the pre-order period you get special bonuses as follows:

(1) All pre-orders will receive a special pdf of the complete 28 talisman images from the Book of the Treasure of Alexander. These images are magnified about 200% from the book and can printed out and used for personal talismans.

(2) All pre-orders will receive a pdf copy of the seminal article on the Book of the Treasure of Alexander by the scholars that translated it from Arabic to Portuguese. The article by Alfonso-Goldfarb AM, Jubran SA., "Listening to the whispers of matter through Arabic hermeticism: new studies on The Book of the Treasure of Alexander" The article is in English and provides a fascinating scholarly look at the Book of the Treasure of Alexander and its history, particularly with regard to alchemy.

(3) All pre-orders of the Poison Edition, whether hardcover or clothbound, will receive a pdf of the complete text with introduction of Ibn Wahshiyya's Book of Poisons! This is 130 pages, double column, and was released separately as a book. It is a complete Arabic medieval book on the subject of poisons. Ibn Wahshiyya was the author of Nabatean Agriculture and a key source for Picatrix. Whoa, definitely worth the pre-order!

An incredible book and NOW, during the pre-order phase, is the time to order the Book of the Treasure of Alexander!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Astrological Spirit of a City

I was just asked where to find instructions in obtaining the guardian/angel astrological spirit governing a particular city.

From an astrological standpoint you would go about this in the same way as you would with any chart, normally we think of natal charts for this, but you can get the name of the spirit of any moment, by looking at the chart for the time, date and place.

I use Agrippa's method from Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Bk III Chapter 26. Very interesting that yesterday, I put this chapter up on my website! I am currently working on my new Traditional Natal Astrology Course and am including some magical natal astrology as part of the course.

Basically I use the "Arabian" method in which you assign a letter to each degree of the Zodiac starting with 0 Aries. Another method that Agrippa describes is starting with the degree of the Ascendant, but then this would vary for every chart.

Then we determine the five hylegical places. These are used in natal length of life calculations and are the degree of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Part of Fortune and prenatal syzygy. The prenatal syzygy is the New or Full Moon immediately preceding the chart date.

We take the degrees, find the letters that correspond and this is the name of the spirit of that particular time, date and place. Quaero Lux has a special online daimon name calculator I kept getting different English results until I realized it didn't have J, V or W, following Latin spelling.

The problem for a city is that sometimes we don't know the date, but even more problematic is the time, that a city was founded. For example, Iowa City, IA, my location, was founded on May 1, 1839 and had to be founded before midnight legally, so officially it was founded at 11:55 pm, but the account then says that dawn came early!

Of course, this is not the only method. Our illustrious predecessors would have also used dreams and visions, plus direct contact with spirits to obtain this sort of information.

It's interesting but I've often speculated that the angel of America, likely a Dominion or at least Archangel in the Celestial Hierarchy attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, looks like the Statue of Liberty, "give me tired, your poor..." while the demon or fallen angel of America has the head of an eagle, a sort of Assyrian mailed body and is clutching the 13 arrows like the US seal, but they are dripping with blood.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Deneb Algedi Mirrors & Talismans

I was very pleased with our recent Deneb Algedi election! I had my best mirror etching yet, thanks to help from my wife Kathleen, with the stencil cutting. I got a real sense of peace and contentment from doing this election. We had a lot of participation from Spiritus Mundi members and a lot of Deneb Algedi talismans made.

I wanted to mention that we now have Deneb Algedi small and large mirrors available! Deneb Algedi is the Tail of Capricorn, excellent for peace, particularly in the home, safety and "increase of wealth" And seriously folks, as much as I like wealth, I suppose peace, particularly peace of mind is what I am really looking for. Though wealth is nice, too!

The small Deneb Algedi mirrors are 3 x 3 inches, and $79.95 plus shipping

I had just one 10 x 10 inch Large Deneb Algedi mirror (I kept the
other one for myself!) and it is $199.95 plus shipping.

All of the mirrors are hand etched by me personally and consecrated.
This is a picture of both my large and a small Deneb Algedi mirror on my fixed star altar.

I have three working altars, the fixed star altar and a Mansions of the Moon and planetary altar, this is an slightly older version of the planetary altar with a few non-planets on it.

Wade says that the casting of silver Deneb Algedi talismans went very
well and you can pre-order silver talismans for $199.95 plus shipping

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Which One is the BEST???

In traditional astrology it is not unusual to have variant lists, for example there are many house systems, eg Placidus, Regiomontanus, Porphyry, Campanus, Alcabitius, different lists of terms, eg Ptolemaic, Egyptian, different lists of Mansions, eg Picatrix Bk I, ch 4, and Picatrix Bk IV, ch 9. I am often asked "which is the BEST one?" with the unconscious assumption that there can be only one that is best.

This almost automatic assumption is conditioned by our world view. When science says that cholesterol is deadly, no, a new study says cholesterol is vital for life, no, wait, a new study says cholesterol kills on sight, we seem to roll with that as confusing as it may be, because we have unconsciously accepted scientific objectivism, which holds that there is one, single objective reality out there separate from us and if we eliminate all subjectivity (BAD MONKEY!) we can find the ONE TRUE ANSWER, which we know must exist to all questions.

The typical approach used by contemporary astrologers, both modern and even those trying to be traditional, is to try to be "scientific" and experiment, to test different house systems or lists. One standard method is to look at one's birth chart using different house systems and then decide which one is "most accurate" "Oh, I am definitely more of a Pisces than Aquarius rising!" Of course this is highly subjective, not that I necessarily object to subjectivity, but it is a bit odd to be trying to find "objective" reality that way! Additionally these tests look at an extremely tiny sample, just one's own birth chart is often all that is used, or perhaps a few celebrities or relatives, again suspect from a "scientific" viewpoint.

Finally, the real problem of this sort of testing is one that plagues modern astrology in general. Because modern astrologers are so keen on evolution, progress and individuality, they are constantly inventing new methods, "A NEW TECHNIQUE that REVOLUTIONIZES astrology" It never seems to work for anyone else and eventually stops working for them. We may not necessarily understand why traditional astrologers used a particular technique, but stop using or change and watch your results get more and more inaccurate.

But why are we so intent on finding the "BEST" which must be a single method, good for all time, for everyone. We can look to our modern worldview and objectivist thinking. Since this is our basic modern view of reality, we are therefore confused by the fact that Robert Burns, for example, says, "My love is like a red, red rose" while Shakespeare says, "Love is a smoke and is made with the fume of sighs" Well, which is it? While this is perhaps a bit facetious an answer, here is one a bit closer to the mark, traditionally in Europe white is worn for weddings and is thus a happy color, while in parts of Asia white is associated with funerals and is a negative color. Is white positive or negative?

Where we get confused is classing love and this color symbolism as merely subjective and thus conventional, simply randomly assigned. Or we fall into total relativism, saying that if there is not one single objective reality that all views of reality are equally valid. It seems to me that there is a middle path here, of recognizing that there are a variety of systems, paths and approaches, some better mappings of reality than others, and that we are personally suited to some and not to others. Finding a path with "heart" that is appropriate to you, is our quest.

So, probably the best approach with these variant house systems, Mansion listings, etc., is to follow the shoe size example. My shoe size in the US is 10 in Europe 44. Which is my REAL, CORRECT size? Well if I am buying shoes in Cedar Rapids, 10, in Dusseldorf, 44. If you are using the book I mansion, use them! The book IV mansions, use them! Regiomontanus or Placidus, use either, just pick one and stick with it, don't jump around chart by chart.

New Planetary Charity Page!

I have a new Planetary Charity page.

Planetary charity comes from the Vedic astrology of India and is a great way to work with the energy of planets that are too afflicted in our birth charts to use their talismans.

By doing charity and dedicating it to a planet, we can work with the energy of the planet and help diminish its negative effects on us. Of course, planetary charity is not just for planets that are afflicted in our natal chart, it can be used to good effect with all planets.

In doing planetary charity we time the donation we make according to the nature of the planet we wish to propitiate, making the donation on the planetary day and hour ruled by the planet. We make the donation to a person, organization or thing ruled by the planet and ideally the donation itself is an item ruled by the planet. Typically, however, it is more practical to make a monetary donation. We start by invoking the planet and making a vow to make a set number of donations, at the appropriate time. We then carry out the planetary charity.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Synastry in Traditional Astrology

I had an interesting question recently asking whether "synastry" was used in traditional astrology. Synastry is a modern term for comparing two natal charts and allegedly provides information about the compatibility of the two people usually for romance.

While he doesn't call it synastry, Lilly has a very interesting section in Christian Astrology in the natal section at page 637-9, entitled, "Whether there may be Concord or Unity between two." in other words will two people get along. While this is placed under the 11th house of friends, I have used it for 7th house romantic relationships as well since the techniques are not house dependent.

Lilly says to look at the two natal charts and compare particular factors, in particular he compares the Ascendant rulers and looks to see whether certain planets are at the same location in both charts.

Lilly also uses the traditional concept of the friendships and enmities of the planets, ie Saturn's friends are Jupiter, Sun, Moon according to Lilly and his enemies are Venus and Mars. CA 637. The problem with the friendships and enmities are that there are lots of different and contradictory lists and sometimes you have weirdness where planet A is listed as a friend of B, but then planet B is listed as an enemy of A in the same list. A bit too confusing for ease of use! I've just left this out when doing traditonal "synastry".

Let me say a bit about synastry in general. It is pretty standard in modern astrology because modern is natal, natal, natal and they don't have any other way to try to forecast the specific relationship between two people. As far as I can see there are no generally accepted methods for modern synastry, everyone just makes it up as they go along. As is generally true for modern, typically the answer is that "YES, you are compatible with X! and will live happily ever after"

Couple of problems. First, the lack of set rules and general positive modern outlook heavily biases the modern reading towards a positive answer. Secondly, compatibility is used as a proxy for the question of whether or not the relationship will actually take place or last. The assumption that if two people are compatible, they will automatically be madly in love and thus in a committed relationship is clearly way off base. I used to joke that I am completely compatible with Scarlett Johansson, and I can just hear the wedding bells ringing there!

Horary is really the best method here. It goes right to the heart of the matter and can answer accurately and precisely, "Will I have a committed relationship with X?" Synastry can't answer this accurately even using traditional technique, let alone using whatever passes for technique in modern astrology.

More on Horary Astrology

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Aspects & Orbs with Non-Planets

I had a very interesting question recently regarding the Moon aspecting a fixed star. The questioner wanted to know whether you used the full orb of the Moon or her moiety, half her orb. Good question!

Orbs are zones of power spreading out from the exact aspect, known as perfection. According to the English astrology William Lilly, in his 1647 Christian Astrology at page 107 the Moon's orb is either 12.5 or 12 degrees. Here is Lilly's orb table.

First off, don't use orbs like a cliff, use them like a gentle slope. Lilly himself says "I sometimes use the one [orb measurement], and, sometimes the other, as my Memory best Remembereth them, and this without error." Christian Astrology page 107. It is not as if the orb of the Moon is fully effective to exactly 12.5 degrees and then at 12.51 degrees we ignore it completely. The closer the aspect to perfection the more powerful, the farther it is the less powerful it is until it basically fades out. Orbs are reasonably flexible rules of thumb. I set the orbs on my astrological software way out so I can see all the aspects the planets are making even if technically out of orb.

Secondly, orbs and moieties. I am told that in modern astrology it is the aspects that have orbs, but in traditional each planet has an orb. This is split in half for a moiety. So if the Moon's orb is 12, her moiety is 6. With aspects of planets to planets you add the moiety of each planet to see if they are in orb. Thus Moon orb 12, moiety 6, aspecting Mercury orb 7, moiety 3.5, 6 + 3.5 = 9.5 orb of Moon/Mercury aspect is 9.5. Again don't just ignore an applying aspect of the Moon to Mercury if it is 10 degrees, it is just a lot weaker than 3 degrees away!

Now when we pass to planets aspecting non-planets like house cusps, Parts, Nodes, fixed stars, outer planets, etc., for the orbs we need to delve deeper into the background of aspects. Aspect comes from the Latin, aspectus, literally looking, seeing or facing. Only planets make aspects, ie, they alone see or face. Similarly, only planets rule signs or houses. Planets are the real actors in the chart. True the signs are sometimes said to "rule" illnesses, parts of the body and places, but I like how Lilly says they "signify" these things, that is they correspond to them, rather than actively rule or cause them like a planet.

So as it always seems in traditional astrology, we have exceptions, however, when it comes to aspects it is solid, only planets aspect. So this means we use the full planetary orb, not the moiety, since the non-planet has no orb and thus no moiety of its own to contribute. Thus if, for example, the Moon was 7 degrees from the Midheaven and as her orb is 12, the aspect is well within her orb.

Treating the planets as the most "active" and in a different fashion from Parts, Nodes, house cusps, etc., is a major difference between traditional and modern astrology. In modern astrology the nuance has been lost and everything acts likes everything else, eg Parts aspect house cusps aspect Nodes, rather than planets being the primary actors.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Moving Fixed Stars

I had a question recently about trying to get the exact position of a fixed star for an election. This question comes up because the fixed stars are only fixed by comparison to the planets, from the Greek planetos or wanderer, who are bopping all over the place. The fixed stars do slowly move.

Firstly, some astronomy! The planets all orbit fairly close to the plane of the ecliptic, the path of the Sun, but the fixed stars are spread out all over the 3-D sphere of the Heavens. This means that their positions are distorted significantly when they are mapped onto the ecliptic from 3-D to the 2-D of the chart.

Saying this I can feel the modern reaction rising instantly, "ah, we must follow like robots the 'actual' material position of the stars". Not so fast! Now some philosophy. There are ways to use the heliacal rising and setting of fixed stars, Google this for more info, but our system of astrology doesn't use this, any more than Bach needed to use Indian raga quartertones to play incredibly beautiful music or I need German umlauts to write in English. Mapping the fixed stars onto the ecliptic gives us a whole set of "sensitive" points, a way of timing when the spirits of the fixed stars can be contacted, various sets of fixed star cycles in which the physical location of the stars imperfectly reflects more perfect underlying spiritual cycles, archetypes and Platonic forms.

Ok, now some practical considerations. The key here is "imperfectly". So analogous to the way matter imperfectly reflects the Platonic forms, so the ecliptic mapping of the fixed stars distorts their positions somewhat. Then we need to consider that precession, nutation, aberration, parallax and proper motion [google them for more info!] all cause individual differences such that we need to individually determine the Zodiacal location of stars, we can't simply apply a single formula to exactly adjust the current location for every star.

Finally, and I have been mentioning this a bit recently, when we do astrological talisman elections we do a time range, not an exact time, because we can't make a talisman instantly! For fixed stars I tend to use the rough rule of thumb of 3 degrees before and 3 degrees after their conjunction with the Ascendant or Midheaven. The influence begins to build and build as the fixed star moves toward the Ascendant or Midheaven, climaxes, then slowly fades out. It is actually likely more effective to consecrate longer and take advantage of the total range and total energy put out during the range. Anyhow it is not as if we had any choice, until we can work in the twinkling of an eye!

Bottom line is that like being unable to determine exactly when Sunrise happens, there is a point beyond which our attempts to be precise in terms of the exact degree, minute and second Zodiacal longitude of fixed stars simply is not effective. By using the time range, we can be sure that we can covered the most powerful time, even if we can't precisely determine what that is.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Necessary Synthesis #3 Leopold's Talismans

If we wish to practice traditional astrology we need to stay within the tradition. This is less of a moral judgment than simply one of keeping our labels straight. We do not wish, as my mentor in magic Robert Zoller said, to be flying under “false flags” calling ourselves traditional astrologers because we like the sound of it and consciously or more likely unconsciously practicing modern astrology.

As we have explored in earlier posts, we face the delicate task of being true to the essence of the tradition without blind and slavish adherence to every jot and tittle of every traditional text.

We can perhaps say that we have begun to master the essence of traditional astrology by when we have followed our traditional sources carefully and delineated, say 500 charts or created 100 astrological talismans using only traditional methods. At this point we can begin to see through the letter of the rules to the essence.

Let’s look at an example. What follows are a literal and then a “synthesized” version of a translation from a passage in Leopold of Austria’s “Compilatio scientie astrorum” Compilation of the Science of the Stars, dating to about 1271. This passage is included in F J Carmody’s “The Astronomical Works of Thabit b. Qurra” (Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1960) at 172-3.

First here is a literal translation of the passage by our own John Michael Greer,

For having the love of somebody, make an image of the one whose love you want to acquire on the day and hour of Jupiter, under the ascendant of the nativity or question; a fortune ascending, and (a fortune) the lord of him (the ascendant,) and keep the malefics away from it; let the lord of the tenth be a fortune. And let it be joined with the lord of the ascendant, with corporeal reception or a good aspect, and name the image you make with the name by which that person is known; put another image with the first so that they embrace each other, and wrap in a clean cloth. And (what you did) with the lord of the first image, (do) to both images; the power is not in the metal of which they are made or the wax or clay, because the observation of the ascendant suffices with the conditions you should keep in mind.

Next, here is my “synthesized” translation,

In order to have the love of someone, make images for the acquisition of love in the day and hour of Jupiter under the Ascendant of the nativity [of the person whose love you wish] or of a horary question [regarding this person]; with a fortune rising and the Ascendant ruler fortunate; and remove malefics from the Ascendant; and make fortune the ruler of the 10th house and unite it with the ruler of the Ascendant with bodily reception or a good aspect, and name the image with the name of the person for whom it is made; and place the second image with the first image and cause them to be embracing and place them in clean cloth. And the lord of the first image is lord of both; the power is not in the metal out of which they are made or wax or clay, because it is enough to observe the Ascendant and be mindful of it when creating [talismans].

Ok, let’s look at the changes I made. First of all, the literal translation says “make an image” while I say “make images”. This is because later in the paragraph it makes a big deal out of a second image and making the two images embrace each other. This is a key part of the whole talisman creation process because embracing images cause the targets to embrace. The literal translation even says to do the same with the second image as the first!

Next another key is basing the election for these images on a natal chart or a horary. As we can see in De Imaginibus, we use the natal chart of the target or a horary that gave us a favorable outcome concerning them. The problem is that the literal translation goes on to say that you should make a fortune ruling the Ascendant. The fortunes are Jupiter and Venus, they rule Sagittarius, Pisces, Taurus and Libra. So what if the natal chart of your target has Capricorn rising? I have substituted “make the lord of the Ascendant fortunate” This preserves the concept of fortunating the Ascendant, which is what having a benefic rule it does, while also preserving the ability to focus the power of the talisman on the target. Similarly, making the lord of the 10th a fortune limits the signs that can rise, so I make a similar adjustment there.

We can see that the “synthesized” translation does not do anything that goes outside the usual traditional practice and in fact, it resolves the confusion the literal translation causes while still giving a recipe for a powerful talisman.

Translation, in fact, is an excellent analogy about how we need to approach traditional sources, even in English. Translation is an art, it cannot be done word for word, and we must balance fidelity to the literal words of the original with creating a translation that is meaningful to us, but still faithful to the original.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Necessary Synthesis #2 Agrippa's Synthesis

As contemporary practitioners of the authentic Hermetic arts of traditional astrology, alchemy and magic, we are caught between a rock and a hard place, or Scylla and Charybdis, for the classically educated. On one hand, if we stay in the modern atheistic/materialist worldview, generally unconsciously, we will inevitably distort and destroy any chance of truly understanding or applying Hermeticism, which entirely depends on the spiritual connection of all things stemming from their origin in the One. “But I’m not an atheistic/materialist!” A good test is the “sidereal” (actually constellational) versus Tropical Zodiac. If you find the constellation Zodiac compelling, your unconscious thinking is atheistic/materialist. This is not a disaster, just good to know!

For the newbie and student, the first step is to immerse yourself in the tradition, learn the authentic pre-1700 philosophy of Hermeticism and the pre-1700 techniques of astrology, alchemy and magic. Learn the methods, learn the rules at the same time working from the other end trying to grasp the ubiquity of the modern worldview and understand the traditional worldview.

One of my favorite methods for this stems from my legal training. In a legal brief or before a judge, you are expected to be able to cite an authority, typically a court case decided by an appellate court, statute or regulation to support your position. I have my students cite to specific sections of traditional sources, giving the title and page. This is a useful exercise since it keeps us from straying into modern thinking and methods.

However, this dependence on traditional methods and sources ends up being the second big problem for more advanced students or picky talisman buyers who require complete, 100% adherence to traditional sources. Ok, then what do you do when the sources contradict each other?

But let’s go further, the purpose of learning the rules is to immerse yourself in them and penetrate to the essence of the tradition. The rules themselves should be treated respectfully and are not tossed aside at some mythical level of mastery. Rather one understands the reasons behind them and when the rules occasionally contradict the essence of the tradition or the essence can be preserved if the ruled is not observed, then 100% adherence is not required.

While this is a process reserved for those with a mastery of the philosophy and practice of traditional astrology and astrological magic, let me give a concrete example showing how Agrippa worked with Picatrix within the tradition.

As is indicated by the Latin critical edition of Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy, (Brill, 1992) edited by Compagni, the source of the Mercury talismans in Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Book II, chapter 43 is Picatrix, Bk II, ch. 10.

We have recently finished translating Picatrix so we have those talisman descriptions available to us. Bk II, ch. 10 has two separate planetary sections, one is a listing simply of images of the planets according to various sources and the second section lists images plus the astrological conditions they are to be made under and
their effects.

Here is the first section of Mercury images:

The form of Mercury according to the opinion of the sage Beylus is the form of a young man with a beard with a dart in his hand. And this is its form.

The form of Mercury according to the opinion of Mercury is the form of a man with the head of a rooster sitting on a throne and his feet look like those of an eagle and in the palm of his left hand he has fire and under his feet are the signs stated before. And this is its form.

The form of Mercury according to the opinion of Picatrix is the image of a man standing erect and to his right side having wings that extend and on his left having a small rooster [?] in his right hand having a dart and in his left hand a round shell and on the middle of his head
the crest of a rooster. And this is its form.

The form of Mercury according to the opinion of the other sages is the form of a crowned nobleman, riding on a peacock in his right hand a reed pen and in his left having a book and his clothing is of many mixed colors. And this is its form.

Picatrix, Bk II, ch 10.

Here is the second section of Mercury images:

Image of Mercury. From the images of Mercury make the image of a baron seated on a chair with the head of a rooster and the feet of an eagle, and in his left hand fire and under his feet are the signs [figures in text] in the hour of Mercury, Mercury exalted and rising, in emerald, and if this stone is carried into a prison it liberates

From the operations of Mercury, when he rises, make this sign in his hour in emerald, and carrying this stone you will be served by scribes and notaries and all those who are the nature of Mercury.

From the operations of Mercury make the image of a lion in emerald or another image is the image of head of a lion, in the hour of Mercury, Mercury rising in Gemini, and above the head write a "A" and below the head a "D" and whoever has this image they will evade infirmities and fear and good things will be said of them.

Picatrix, Bk II, ch. 10

Now here are Agrippa's Mercury talismans from TBOP, Bk II, ch 43

Of the Images of Mercury.

From the operations of Mercury, they made an Image at the hour of Mercury, Mercury ascending in Gemini, the form of which was an handsome young man, bearded, having in his left hand a rod in which a serpent is twyned about, in his right carrying a dart, having his feet winged; They report that this Image conferreth knowledge, eloquence, diligence in merchandizing and gain; moreover to beget peace and concord, and to cure feavers; They made another Image of Mercury, Mercury ascending in Virgo, for good will, wit and memory; The form of which was a man sitting upon a chaire, or riding on a Peacock, having Eagles feet, and on his head a crest, and in his left hand holding a cock or fire.

By comparing Agrippa's talismans with his original source Picatrix, we can see that Agrippa is basically mixing and matching the various Mercury images listed in Picatrix. For example Agrippa’s first image is Mercury in Gemini, with a bearded young man and a dart, but Picatrix doesn’t specify a sign for the bearded young man with a dart. Of course Gemini makes sense being Mercury’s sign. Agrippa adds in a rod with a snake twined around it, but then this is the famous caduceus of Mercury, quite appropriate if not in Picatrix. Also Agrippa has the image with winged feet, again classic for images of Mercury, while Picatrix just says “winged”. Does this make feet wrong, hardly!

So Agrippa is neither inventing out of whole cloth, nor is he simply slavishly following the source, because this is clearly not necessary. He is inspired by Picatrix and adds in other appropriate, traditional elements.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Necessary Synthesis #1 Flowers' Hermetic Magic

Hermetic Magic by Stephen Flowers is subtitled “The Postmodern Magical Papyrus of Abaris”

I was definitely prepared to dismiss this as another frothy New Age production with the term “hermetic” used as a synonym for esoteric, occult or simply “cool”. Instead Flowers does a good job of outlining the true history of classical Hermeticism, explaining its mixed Greek and Egyptian roots, its subsequent history, cosmology, Hermetic gematria and the operative magical use of Hermeticism in the Greek Magical Papyri.

I’m not wild about the term “postmodern” which already has a current definition that to my mind doesn’t fit how Flowers uses it, because postmodernism is still atheistic/materialistic. On the other hand, what should we call the worldview that is necessary for astrology, alchemy and magic? A bit of a conundrum! Flowers is entirely correct, however, in pointing to a change from the modern worldview as a prerequisite for true contemporary Hermeticist.

I also wasn’t wild at first about the “Epistle of Abaris” which is Flowers’ own creation of a Hermetic text. Then I realized that this was totally traditional! Flowers’ epistle is certainly within the mainstream of Hermetic thought and one would not balk at it if it was part of a newly found ancient Hermetic manuscript.

Ultimately, I realized that basically any problem I had with Hermetic Magic stemmed from bad vibes off of the “postmodern” title. In point of fact, this is a very good introduction to the history, theory and practice of magic within classical (1st to 4th centuries AD) Hermeticism. Flowers points to all the key sources, the Corpus Hermeticum, the Greek Magical Papyri, which you can then read in the original. Ultimately, I think that Flowers’ approach, seeing the origin of Hermeticism in synthesis and then immersing oneself in pre-modern Hermeticism and then finally producing a new synthesis, within this tradition, is the correct approach.