Sunday, December 18, 2011

What Can I Get From A Horary Question?

1. Precise, accurate, concrete answer

Must ask reasonably precise question about concrete situation

“Will I marry X?” Works!

“What is the meaning of life?” No way! Vague, broad, not concrete question

2. Focused answer

Must ask focused, ie yes/no question,

can’t ask multi-variable question with multi-variable answer

“Should I move to Cedar Rapids?” Works!

“Should I quit my job and move to Rio de Janeiro?”

Too many variables, maybe you should quit your job, but shouldn’t move to Rio. Maybe you shouldn’t quit your job, how are we going to pull the correct answer out of the chart?

3. Objective view of situation

can’t necessarily get “solution” to problem

“Will my ice cream business be a success in Anchorage this winter?” Works as a question, since the answer is likely no.

“How can be elected President of the US?” All you are getting out of this question is no, not a roadmap for your inauguration.

4. Clear view of flow of events

Variation on #3, horary will tell you what is likely to happen not how to make reality conform to your desires

5. Headline question answered

Can’t always get secondary information

What do I mean by headline?

“When will I marry X?” Headline question actually is “Will I marry X?” positive answer is assumed in the question, but this doesn’t alter the fact that both negative and positive answers are possible to almost any question.

Therefore, timing, physical description, location are typically all secondary information. Maybe they can be answered, maybe not!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Natal Astrology Course Review

Here is a review from the first student to graduate from my Natal Astrology Course

"I have recently completed and passed Mr Warnock's Renaissance Natal Astrology Course. I thought that [others] would be interested in how I found it, so here is a short write up…

In summary, the course was excellent: very clear and comprehensive. I am now doing natal chart readings and getting very positive feedback, such as "I am amazed at the depth that it goes into and how accurate it is", "spot on in many ways" and "that was spookily accurate - how did you know that?".

I started the course in May and so it has taken 6 months to complete. Having said that, I did work on the course quite intensively and had already taken the Astrological Magic course, and so the course could take some people a good while longer. My advice would be to take as long over each lesson as is required to feel that you have really grasped the fundamentals. Mr Warnock was always on hand to answer questions and help me with any sticking points. A lot of supplementary materials are provided in addition to each lesson, and I found it very useful to take the time to read and absorb all of that as well.

On that subject, I'd like to mention that the course completely fulfilled something that Mr Warnock promised: doing this course means that all the many pre-1700 English books that are out there in facsimile, and the many being translated into English by the month are now understandable and accessible to me - I can make sense of them. This I find amazing, given how impenetrable these works were to me before.

The course registration page says that "The material presented in the Renaissance Natal Astrology Course is difficult and requires commitment to master". I would not disagree with this, but want to say that this should not put any serious students off. However - if you want to be 'spoon fed', this is not the course for you.

A word of encouragement/advice for anyone who has started the course: many of the concepts on the course were unfamiliar and there were times when I felt 'stuck' and wondered if I'd ever get my head around it. What I found was that if I allowed myself a few days to let these concepts sink in, and if I read the course materials over and over again very carefully, I always got through these stumbling blocks. The course does not 'spoon feed' you and you will need to work a lot of stuff out for yourself - but there is method in that - that is the way that you come to really understand the materials.

The course also comes with many example readings which are very informative.

I think that the course is excellent value for money given the depth of information that it conveys and the skills it transfers. It is very enjoyable and interesting and as always it is a pleasure and a privilege to have Mr Warnock as a teacher."

Yorkshire, England

I want to thank Brian for the review and congratulate him upon being the very
first graduate of my Natal Astrology Course!

Brian was my "beta tester" and made many useful suggestions that have improved
the course. Brian's feedback here is especially pleasing to me because the areas he touches on are exactly what I had hoped to achieve with the course.

His point about the course not "spoon feeding" students is spot on! While I don't throw students in at the deep end, it is very important to be able to work things out for yourself. As Brian mentioned, one of my key goals was to teach students enough so that they don't need to rely on my teaching or my course, but can delve into the huge resources available on traditional astrology, either in the 17th century English texts or in translation.

I was also very pleased with his comments about not getting frustrated, but reading about concepts and techniques and then letting the knowledge sink in for awhile. One problem I've had with students is trying to water ski through this material at 60 mph. I deliberately make students slow down a bit, by having a homework correction day every 3 weeks or so. Since I want to make sure students have mastered the earlier lesson before going on to the next, this ensures that material can really sink in before you get in deeper.

Ultimately, my goal is to assist students in developing their own individualistic approach while still staying within traditional astrology.

Thanks, Brian, for the great feedback, and again congratulations!

Christopher Warnock

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Trying to Get Astrology To Do the Heavy Lifting

I understand the attraction, but it is hard for some clients to accept that you can't ask, "What should I do with the rest of my life?" and get the answer, "In 3 months, two day and five hours, call this number, talk to Joe and all your wishes will be granted." After all it would be nice to have a magic answer machine!

The reality is that with a horary, if you ask a broad, general question you get a broad general answer. Asking, "Where should I move?" will get something like, "Not far away to the East" as the answer. It really isn't that surprising that you need to ask a specific question to get a specific answer. With horary the best way to do this is to ask a yes or no question without multiple possible answers.

Let's give some examples. As noted, "What" questions are often going to be to broad. Also a "what" question tends to be expecting that the horary will solve their problem. "What should I do to be elected president?" is an extreme example of this approach.

Similarly the "When?" question. Again, "When will I be elected president?" assumes a positive outcome to the question. This is a particular problem with job question. "When will I find a job?" Often clients who are unemployed are unconsciously looking for reassurance that they will find a job. Unfortunately, as in all questions both a negative and a positive answer are possible. I ask these clients if a "no" answer will be helpful to them, if not, don't ask!

What I call trying to get astrology to do the heavy lifting most often manifests itself when the client wants to use astrology too early in the decision making process. Since the best horary is a yes or no, single outcome question, if you can't decide between moving to Cleveland, Buffalo, LA, NYC, San Francisco or Reno it is still too early to be asking horaries. Some clients realize that you can't ask about multiple outcomes in one question and try to ask separate questions, "Should I move to Cleveland?" then "Should I move to LA?" then "Should I move to Reno?" I don't refuse to do these sets of questions, but I am starting to recommend against doing this. These questions, usually asked within a relatively short time of each other, don't seem to be as "juicy", or have the emotional punch of a good horary.

It is better, in my experience, to go through your decision making process, narrow down your options to one, and then use horary to confirm that option. I have a sense that when you are still dealing with multiple possibilities that you haven't manifested their reality at the same power as when you finally make your decision.

Now this is a different approach from the modern idea that prediction somehow robs clients of their precious Free Will and that we can do anything we want with sufficient positive thinking. The Renaissance view is that Fate and Free Will both exist simultaneously while the wondrousness of Free Will and the evil of Fate is part of the modern worldview.

I don't see much Free Will operating even in my own life. I have no ethical problem predicting the future for clients, I am just part of the seamless web of Fate and Free Will. My main concern is to accurately predict. When I understand what seems to work for accuracy and communicate that to my clients, I'm doing my job better as a traditional astrologer.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Malefics: Merely Weak or Actually Powerful for Evil?

Generally we are doing talismans for benefic purposes and doing horaries looking for a positive result. When we are looking for a positive result it doesn't much matter to us whether a planet is simply weak or is actively and powerfully malefic, it is not contributing to our positive result.

But clearly there is a difference between being strongly evil or simply weak, how can we see this in the chart?

If you want a powerful talisman you want to make a powerful placement of the planet, benefic or malefic. "Now we shall have the Planets powerfull...when they are in Angles, especially of the rising, or Tenth" Agrippa, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Bk II, ch 30.

Now for a benefic purpose the election is straightforward. Put the planet in its sign or exaltation or otherwise dignified, rising or culminating, in its day or hour and unafflicted.

But what about for a malefic purpose? Now things get interesting. For example, a benefic planet can be accidentally malefic in a particular chart, Ramesey says, do not

"...think the making a fortune: viz. Jupiter or Venus (which are but generally so) significators, will be beneficial: for it will often prove contrary : for all men are not ruled by Jupiter and Venus; neither (as I say) are they always fortunes: for accidentally they may be infortunes: and when they are Lords of the eighth, twelfth and sixth, they are occasions of sickness, poverty, imprisonment, mischief and death as effectually as Saturn or Mars;"

Astrology Restored p 123-4.

So, for example, if Jupiter in Pisces rules the 8th this can be powerful for death, though likely of a more benign type being Jupiter.

Similarly, if a malefic like Saturn or Mars is strongly dignified, they lose much of their malefic quality, all other factors like house rulership not being considered. Bonatti, Book of Astronomy, TR 5, 34th Consideration, Dykes trans at 289.

On the other hand, being in detriment or fall can powerfully cause evil. A planet in fall "signifies sorrow and prison and distress" Abu Ali Khayyat, "Judgments of Nativities" 9 in Dykes, Introductions to Traditional Astrology at 50.

Yet being combust, a serious affliction as well, indicates weakness. Bonatti, Book of Astronomy, TR 5, 52nd Consideration, Dykes trans at 294. This is because the strength of the combust planet is wiped out by the Sun.

Malefic aspects of malefics are particularly dangerous. The applying square or opposition of a malefic "will destroy [the matter in question]..." Bonatti, Book of Astronomy, TR 5, 34th Consideration, Dykes trans at 289.

So this helps us understand the electional instructions for the pest control talisman explained by Agrippa, which is a malefic talisman at least for the pests! Rats Begone!

In this talisman we use a variety of means of exerting malefic power.

[A]nd thou shall make unfortunate the ascendant, and lord thereof, and the Lord of the house of Mars; and thou shall make unfortunate the lord of the ascendant in the eighth house and let them be joined with an aspect malignant, opposite or quadrant:

Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Bk. II, Chapter 50, p. 402.

While I don't personally work with malefic talismans or elections, understanding how they work, in particular the difference between merely being weak and actually being powerful for evil is very useful in understand the nuances of traditional astrology.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Zen and Astrology?

I will be away from Friday October 21st to Tuesday, October 25, 2011 for a sesshin (intensive meditation) at Ryumonji Zen Monastery At the sesshin I am scheduled for my Jukai/lay ordination.

I haven't said too much about my Zen Buddhist practice, but I thought it might be useful to talk about it a little. We live about 1/2 a block from the Iowa City Zen Center, very convenient! Since we were so close, we thought, "clearly a sign!" and started attending zazen.

This particular Zen center is affiliated with Shoken at Ryumonji Monastery. Shoken is a dharma heir of Dainan Katagiri in the Soto Zen School.

Ok, what does that mean? Buddhism arose in India and passed to Southeast Asia, China, Korea and Japan. In the middle ages in China the Chan (Chinese for dhyana or meditation) School arose as reform movement within the Chinese schools and lineages. It passed to Japan as Zen. In Japan there are 3 schools of Zen, Rinzai, Obaku and Soto. Over simplifying Rinzai focuses on koans, impenetrable statements like the classic "what is the sound of one hand clapping?" while Soto is very focused on zazen, sitting meditation. Rinzai does zazen, of course and Soto can use koans. Obaku is a later import of the Chinese Rinzai lineage. Here's a little taste of Zen from the Matrix.

One key tenet of Zen is the idea of direct transmission from master to student. Earlier Zen masters basically confirmed that the student had had a basic enlightenment experience called kensho or satori. Nowadays dharma transmission is basically the last step in being an osho (monk/priest) and doesn't necessarily indicate anything about enlightenment experiences.

Unlike many Western spiritual traditions Zen has an unbroken tradition and lineage. I can read Dogen (the "founder" of Soto Zen) and he is describing the ritual and teachings that my teachers tell me.

I have done zazen (sitting meditation) every day now for a year. Up till last year I found it impossible to meditate at all. I could not even sit still. Now I am doing an hour a day. At sesshin we do about 15 hours of meditation over 2 1/2 days and a full day. At Rohatsu, an 8 day meditation session, they traditionally stay up later and later each night and all night meditating on the last day. I don't think I am quite up to that yet.

The meditation has had clear positive effects. For example, I am much calmer and less likely to react immediately emotionally. This is not the main point, however. I am convinced that the accounts of kensho and other enlightenment experiences are correct and that they can be obtained through Zen and other spiritual traditions.

Now, what does this have to do with astrology and magic? First, my Zen teachers have been very supportive of my astrological work. Zen, to Americans, seems like an atheistic/materialist iconoclastic spiritual tradition, easy to fit into their modern ego based consumer lifestyle. It is, in fact, very ritualized and does a good amount of what can only be described as magical ritual and invocation. This is
just not as major a focus as it would be in Shingon or other Vajrayana/Tantric Buddhist schools.

Secondly, there is a long tradition of syncretizing local spirits and native spiritual cultural elements into Buddhism and Zen. The Hindu devas, Chinese Taoist immortals, and Japanese Shinto kami were blended into Buddhism. The stars and planets are already part of Chinese & Japanese Buddhist practice, so my adding in the Western style astrological spirits, basically as dharma protectors and cosmic gods, is not much of a stretch.

And why do I want to integrate them at all, doesn't astrological magic stand on its own? I've found astrology and astrological magic useful from a practical standpoint, after all it is great to be able to accurately predict the future and to do practical magical tasks. But the most valuable quality of practicing traditional astrology and magic is that it confirms for moderns, steeped in atheistic/materialism, that the spiritual exists. Once we know that then following a spiritual path and affirming the primacy of the spiritual over the material becomes logical and, for some, inescapable.

I'm pleased that I have found a living spiritual tradition that allows me to continue my practical studies and work in astrology and magic, but points me to a path leading beyond the material, beyond merely attempting to sate the ego self.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Teacher/Student Relationship

I have Saturn in Aquarius rising, so it is probably no surprise to traditional astrologers, at least, that I am a rock ribbed traditionalist, albeit with some unconventional leanings. A modern astrologer would likely expect me to be a dancing hippie. And I have say this song does give me a lump in my throat and I have long hair. But then mix that in with being a lawyer!

Aquarius has a quality of being unconventional, but since it is ruled by Saturn, that unconventionality expresses itself as a deep traditionalism.

One area that I can see this clearly is in the teacher/student relationship or more traditionally the master/disciple relationship. Immediately the modern hackles rise! In two areas, first, the modern archetype of equality and the fact that some teachers make abusive use of the relationship.

For moderns the advances in political equality, one of the few real achievements of the Enlightenment, have extended to all areas. We are all equally qualified, apparently to pilot a 747 or do heart surgery.

The reality of the lack of knowledge of the student is rationalized with equality by treating the teacher as a functionary or employee with some bits and bobbles of useful knowledge that the student can quickly pry out and appropriate. Certainly it makes no sense to follow the teacher’s curriculum or lesson plan. You already know 99% of what you need to know, just ask a few questions, follow your own [lack of] knowledge, after all, who does this dude think he is? Also since you and the teacher are on the same level, feel free to criticize the teacher and argue with them. You have a right to your own opinion and that opinion is just as valid as the teacher’s, in fact, probably more so since you wouldn’t have an opinion that you knew was wrong. If you disagree with the teacher their job is to convince you, in fact they should cater to and serve you.

One problem with this modern automatic assumption of equality or even superiority of the student is that it interferes with learning and on a deeper level, it is a profound misunderstanding of the respective roles of teacher and student.

At its most basic, the student must realize that they lack knowledge and recognize that the teacher has this knowledge. They must be willing to learn.

The teacher must have the knowledge that the student seeks and be willing and able to teach it.

Both of these are honorable roles, but logic as well as the traditional view both dictate that the teacher is superior to the student in knowledge.

It follows that not only is the teacher superior in the knowledge sought itself, but also in knowing the method to impart knowledge.

Therefore the student needs to submit to the teacher’s method as well as open themselves to the information that the teacher imparts. Openly acknowledging this submission is painful and often unacceptable for the modern student.

Of course, this is not granting absolute power to the teacher. The student should investigate the teacher beforehand, checking out their training, their lineage and their teachers, reading their writings, talking with their students. But once the student decides to study with the teacher they should accept them wholeheartedly as their teacher. That doesn’t mean that they should let themselves be taken advantage of by the teacher and sadly some teachers have abused their students financially, sexually and in other ways. The student, as well as the teacher, always retain the right to end the relationship.

In my view, respect is at the core of the student/teacher or master/disciple relationship. If a student disrespects their teacher, they show that they do not value the knowledge that the teacher is giving them and ultimately, lack self respect.

I have been blessed with excellent teachers and as a student never felt inhibited about traditional ritualized forms of respect. For example, when I studied with Mehdi-Hairi Yazdi, an Iranian ayatollah, we all stood when he entered the room. As a Buddhist when I do dokusan, an individual interview with Shoken, my Buddhist teacher, I do three full prostrations to begin. I enjoy showing respect and in fact, feel ennobled to be part of these ancient lineages.

I don’t expect my astrology students to do prostrations, but in order for me to teach and pass on the tradition, I do need them to trust me enough not to be constantly looking for mistakes or arguing with me. It is hard enough to grasp this material without fighting me all the way.

When I teach it is not factory style mass production lectures with multiple choice testing in the educational/industrial complex, but the traditional method of one on one, albeit via the Internet or phone.

The traditional method works, I’m living proof of that. It is not that I am better than my students, just more knowledgeable. Besides, I was once a student and my students will be teachers. This knowledge is not mine, I am merely the conduit for passing on the tradition. Respect to the teacher is really respect to the lineage of teachers before them and ultimately to the knowledge itself.

Monday, September 26, 2011

These are Talismans not Jewelry: Switching to Bronze

When we first started casting talismans at Renaissance Astrology, we used to occasionally cast in gold, but the price quickly became stratospheric. Ok, we'll use silver. But we've had to slow down our castings drastically in 2011 because of the tremendous increase in the cost of silver. When we started casting silver was $8 an ounce, it reached over $40 this year. Because we need to make multiple talismans at once and then wait to sell them, the cost of casting had become prohibitive. So, after much thought we have decided to switch to bronze as our main talisman metal.

I still occasionally get people that ask for a custom "pure" gold talisman, thinking that it is going to be $25 or maybe $50. The gold itself would be over $1500 and the cost of molds, casting, design, puts a gold talisman somewhere in the $4000-$5000 range. Plus you can't easily cast 24 karat gold, it tends to get blobby, sticky and won't pour smoothly.

The whole "custom talisman" thing is problematic. While custom talismans sound cool, they end up being about 10 times as expensive and a lot weaker than our standard talismans. This is because we sometimes have to wait years for the perfect time to cast standard talismans and casting a custom talisman costs a lot. Also currently even if you wanted to pay $2000 and the right time was available we have no open slots in our casting schedule for custom talismans. I tell clients, If you are interested in a talisman, definitely go for the standard ones, they are super powerful and the price is right!

Here's the key problem, basically people are approaching talismans as jewelry, not as objects of magical power. Jewelry adorns you, it is an expression of your personality, it shows your wealth, your taste, it is YOURS. Clients get obsessed with the appearance of talismans, worry about miniscule pits or blemishes (inevitable with hand casting) or get hung up about whether to replace the cord with a chain.

Alternatively they've seen the standard planetary metal assignment

Saturn = lead
Jupiter = tin
Mars = iron
Sun = gold
Venus = copper
Mercury = mercury
Moon = silver

And want a solid tin Jupiter talisman (tin is too brittle and lightweight for a talisman) or a lead Saturn talisman (toxic) or a mercury Mercury talisman (super toxic and how do you cast a metal that is liquid at room temperature?).

Of course there are other planetary metal lists, Agrippa in Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk II, ch. 22 says lead for Saturn, silver for Jupiter, with specialized Jupiter uses for red coral, Mars has iron and for specialized uses, cornelian and red brass, Sun, gold, Venus has silver again and for specialized uses, brass, Mercury has silver, tin, yellow brass, virgin parchment and Moon, silver.

Picatrix Bk II, ch. 10 has Saturn with iron and gold, Jupiter, lead (!!!), Mars, ruby, Venus, red brass, Mercury, mercury, tin, and Moon silver.

Picatrix Bk III, ch 7, says Saturn is lead, Jupiter, tin, Mars, bronze, Sun, gold, Venus gold/silver alloy, Mercury, fixed mercury, Moon, silver.

But even if you use the "canonical" planetary metal list you are missing the point, the power of the talisman is not in the metal out of which it is made and the point of a talisman is not to look pretty or please your aesthetic sense, these are points of contact with powerful spiritual beings!

The power of an astrological talisman comes primarily from the carefully elected time of its making and the consecration to the appropriate spirit. Materials are much less significant.

As Thabit Ibn Qurra says, "you should begin to work on the image [i.e., talisman], that is, by means of casting it in the form you have made from gold or silver or copper or lead or tin. It does not matter of which of these metals the image is made, because its health and strength require nothing else; it is perfected by the exactness of the ascendant alone." De Imaginibus, Chapter V.

We have two factors operating here, unconscious modern atheistic/materialism and a traditional push for "natural magic". As moderns, even if we try to be spiritual, our reality is basically materialistic. "Obviously" the power of a material item comes from its material form and what it is composed of. Also the material is tangible and we understand it, whereas the astrological timing is complex and unknown. Ficino and other Renaissance mages were under a great deal of suspicion and pressure not to be dealing with spirits so they tended to explain talismans as operating "naturally" without the need for consecration, when in fact this is the key to astrological magic! Natural magic dovetails nicely with modern materialistic thought.

So whether we use gold, silver or bronze, the power of the talismans comes from the timing of their making and subsequent consecration. Gold and silver look nice, but are not necessary. A 24k gold talisman cast at a time inappropriate for the Sun will be weaker than a paper talisman made at the appropriate time.

We will continue to cast a few talismans in silver, but bronze, in both the ancient bronze, traditional reddish color and white bronze, make attractive, hefty, and above all POWERFUL talismans.

Our next casting, in early December, will be the ever popular Algol anti-curse talismans. These are our most powerful curse and spiritual protection talismans. Silver Algol talismans will have a pre-order price of $400 and regular price of $500. Ancient Bronze Algol talismans will be $200. E-mail me at for more info!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Electional Problems

Our traditional sources are not as helpful for electional as horary because they tend to list all 50 things it would be nice to have in an election and only occasionally give a nod to reality and say, "well, if you can't get all 50 things, just get the Moon waxing"

When it comes to using natal charts, again traditional sources tend to unhelpfully make broad, abstract pronouncements about how important the natal chart is and then neglect to give any practical advice about how to use the natal chart.

Gadbury's Nauticum Astrologicum is the exception. This is why I recommend it for anyone interested in traditional electional. Gadbury is talking about ships, but he gives 3 ways to do elections, from the natal chart, from a horary or just getting a good election plus actual examples!

Interestingly enough his first two examples, using the natal and horary as a start are not good elections. Very typical! It's hard enough to get a good election without trying to throw in extra natal or horary factors. My approach simply to try to get a good election without trying to monkey with the natal chart.

Couple of other comments about elections.

Whatever little consensus there may be about horary or natal, goes completely out the window with electional. Modern electional is almost completely just "make it up as you go along" and even traditional electional is highly idiosyncratic. It's hard to test, much hard to see whether electional is effective as opposed to horary, plus the fuzziness of traditional electional sources. It's a good area to pontificate about and then rip on other people's elections, easy to do since NO ELECTION IS PERFECT!

Generally clients take elections a bit too seriously, which is why electional clients are often a pain. Elections are not going to overthrow your natal chart, so if your finances are @#@%# in your chart, a good election is unlikely to make you a millionaire. Also elections are subject to the other higher cycles of fate like your city, country, the economy and the world's fates. So a good election for starting as a real estate agent in Las Vegas is also not going to do the trick all by itself.

I do elect important events, but sometimes I get the impression that clients think I don't step out the door without checking with the stars.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Renaissance Astrology Talismans in the British Museum

I am very pleased to announce that two Renaissance Astrology astrological talismans have been added to the permanent collection of the British Museum!

More info and links here. The British Museum website is loading rather slowly and takes awhile.

I think this is a real tribute to the incredible time, energy and effort we put into making authentic astrological talismans, following the ancient sources closely and penetrating through to the essence of the tradition.

Full Evocation to Physical Manifestation?

I had a post recently alluding to "full evocation to physical manifestation" This is one of the ideas bouncing around in contemporary magic and has come to mean that invocation of spirits isn't really complete unless they can be seen, heard, etc., physically.

I find it telling that our modern test of the efficacy and even existence of a spiritual being is its material manifestations. We have such an ingrained skepticism about the spiritual that unless we can touch, feel or see it, we question its existence. This again seems very natural, but is it a standard we even apply consistently?

When people ask me, "do you REALLY believe in astrology, magic, etc.?" I ask them in return, "Do you believe in atoms?" And that sounds like a nonsensical question to them. One believes, despite the sheer absurdity of it, in things like Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairly, angels and God. On the other hand, despite having never seen, heard, touched or tasted an atom, despite it being impossible to ever have anything but a second or third hand experience of an atom, we have no doubt of their reality.

So with atoms we have an underlying constituent of matter, invisible, only discernible second hand, but consistent with the modern atheistic/materialist world view. On the other hand, spiritual beings or the Platonic Forms, similarly invisible, discernible materially only second hand through their effects on matter, we doubt because the spiritual is incompatible with the modern worldview.

Traditionally, the spiritual underlay the material and was the ultimate basis of the material. The closer the material corresponded to the spiritual, the more perfect it was.

The modern view inverts this, the ultimate test of truth is the material. This accounts for the popularity of the 13th sign, aka the constellational Zodiac.

I don't doubt that it is possible to physically see spirits and for them to manifest materially. I personally haven't done this, though I certainly see spirits from time to time, in my "mind's eye". What I question is the idea that physical manifestation is the appropriate test for the success of an invocation and seemingly the point of invocation.

It is definitely useful to be able, as I did yesterday, to invoke the 3rd Mansion of the Moon, and have a huge amount of business. But, as Jason Miller recently noted in a post for his Sorcery class, if you want to make money you'd do better getting an MBA and going into banking than using magic. I've often thought that the material results of magic and astrology are like shiny baubles that an infant is attracted to and reaches for. It may get us started on the path, but the fact that magic and astrology really do work and what that means in terms of the nature of reality is actually more significant.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Incorporation for Astrologers & Magicians?

I had an interesting question on one of my discussion groups asking if it wasn't a good idea to incorporate or form a limited liability company ("LLC") to protect against lawsuits if you were a professional astrologer or magician.

Key point for any business is that you are not going to be able to insulate yourself from liability for anything you do personally by setting up a corporation you control. If you commit malpractice or are negligent, etc., you are personally on the hook for it. Your corporate stock or LLC ownership interest, is an asset, just like your house or bank accounts and they can all be seized.

Now, a corporation or LLC makes sense if you own property or have employees. If you own a building, for example, you have it as a corporate asset and if someone slips and falls, through no personal fault of yours, then only the corporation's assets, including the building, are at risk. You have corporation and have an employee, they injure someone, you had nothing personally to do with it, again only the corporation's assets are at risk.

Now astrologers and magicians in particular. Is there really any need to be concerned about being sued? I've heard crazy stuff like you should get malpractice insurance. First off, you can never stop anyone from filing suit, there's nothing anyone can do about that. Being incorporated or an LLC will NOT stop lawsuits. But seriously folks, there is almost no chance that an astrology or magic malpractice lawsuit could succeed. First off who sues over a reading that cost less than $100? Secondly, how are they going to prove malpractice, getting a prediction wrong isn't enough. Are they going to call in another astrologer or magician who testifies that you failed the national standard for astrology or magic or aren't licensed? No court is going want to hear conflicting testimony about astrological analysis or magical practice!

Being incorporated and being sued is for "legitimate" businesses, while astrology and magic are just borderline legal. You can still get prosecuted simply for being an astrologer in some cities and states. This is more of a problem than a lawsuit, depending on where you live and practice. Normally these cases get thrown out on 1st Amendment grounds with the courts saying even if we don't like astrology, we can't legislate people's philosophy or spiritual beliefs. But suing an astrologer or magician is like suing a priest, the courts are just not going to want to get involved, nor should they, unless there is actual fraud involved. Actual fraud would be someone who didn't believe in astrology just using it as a scam.

This is general advice and as always consult an attorney licensed in your locality.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Amazon Picatrix & Green Magic Mini-Course Launch

I want to celebrate the full fledged launching of the Complete Picatrix, now “official” with an ISBN, and available on Amazon! or the Renaissance Astrology website, Complete Picatrix

The Complete Picatrix will now be available in several newly revised editions, the Liber Atratus, “the Black Book” which is the edition available on Amazon, the Liber Viridis “the Green Book” our Green Magic edition (keep reading for info on the new Green Magic Mini-Course!) and the Liber Rubeus, “The Red Book”.

Each of these editions contains our authoritative complete translation of Pingree’s critical edition of the Latin Picatrix, but each edition adds its special material and has a different look.

The Liber Atratus and Liber Rubeus use black letter decorative fonts and woodblock engravings for a “goth” medieval look. The Liber Atratus adds a section on astrological poisons from Ibn Washiyya’s Book of Poisons. The Liber Rubeus adds a rather macabre section on the creation of a divinatory head.

The Liber Viridis uses Renaissance calligraphic display fonts and lavish foliage illustrations for a more Renaissance, “florid” look. The Liber Viridis adds a Green Magic introduction and special Green Magic Index.

Everyone that pre-orders through the Renaissance Astrology website before August 27, 2011 either the Liber Atratus, Liber Viridis, Green Magic Mini-Course or Liber Rubeus will get two free Picatrix pdf books.

The first free pdf is “Sigils from the Arabic Picatrix” this is 8.5 x 11 with 15 pages of sigils from the Arabic Picatrix. Very interesting and useful to compare with the sigils in the Latin Picatrix.

Second free pdf is the 77 page, “Picatrix Selected Translations” this contains selected Picatrix translations, some from the Arabic Picatrix, but more importantly my commentary on significant passages.

Here’s the standard order info, but if you already bought a copy of our translation of Picatrix Books I & II or the blue version of our complete Picatrix translation, keep reading for a GREAT deal!

The Liber Atratus is available from Amazon and from the Renaissance Astrology website Liber Atratus

The Liber Viridis is available only from the Renaissance Astrology website
Liber Viridis

As part of the Picatrix full launch extravaganza I am also introducing the new Green Magic Mini-Course. This course is an introduction to using traditional astrology and astrological magic for planting, harvesting and ecological magic through the Moon and her phases, Mansions and in the signs. The Green Magic Mini-Course also discusses how to use planetary rulerships and advanced Green Magic.

The Green Magic Mini-Course on CD includes a free copy of the Complete Picatrix Liber Viridis Green Magic edition, plus TPHP, the planetary hours program and Mansion Tracker, lunar mansions software. It also includes over 1000 pages of material on traditional gardening with traditional green magic material. The normal cost will be $69.95 plus shipping, you can order here

The Liber Rubeus is only available from the Renaissance Astrology website and only available intermittently on special request. Liber Rubeus orders will only be initiated when the Moon is in her 5th Mansion and each Mansion set will bear the date of its initiation.

You can order the Liber Rubeus here, Order before August 20, 2011 to catch the August 21-22 Moon in the 5th Mansion

If you have a copy of the earlier blue version of the Complete Picatrix with Nigel Jackson’s illustrations, you are in luck because this first edition is now out of print! You can expect to see the price increase as the antiquarian booksellers start jacking up the price.

But I have an even better deal. If you already bought a copy of our translation of Picatrix Books I & II or the blue version of our complete Picatrix translation you get an additional $10 off if you pre-order through the Renaissance Astrology website before August 27, 2011 either the Liber Atratus, Liber Viridis, Green Magic Mini-Course or Liber Rubeus.

E-mail me at and let me know the approximate date and e-mail address you used when you bought Picatrix Books I & II or the blue version complete Picatrix from me or just tell me the 2nd word in the 2nd chapter of the 2nd book of Picatrix. I will then e-mail you the special discount order page!

So let’s recap, new versions of the Complete Picatrix + Green Magic Mini-Course, free pdfs if you pre-order before August 27th and special $10 discount for pre-orders if you already bought a copy of our earlier editions! These special deals are not available if you order the Liber Atratus through Amazon, the special deals are just for orders through the Renaissance Astrology website!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Guardian Angel & Almuten Figuris

The guardian angel/personal daimon is extremely important in traditional theurgy and traditional astrology does indeed have a role to play here. The key part that astrology plays is in the identification of the planet of the personal genius.

Agrippa says,

Now the ancient Phylosophers teach us to know the nature of the Genius of every man, by Stars, their influx, and aspects, which are potent in the Nativity of any one; but with instructions so divers, and differing amongst themselves, that it is much difficult to understand the mysteries of the heavens by their directions.

For Porphyrie seeks the Genius of the Star, which is the Lady of the Nativity: but Maternus either from thence, or from the Planets, which had then most dignities, or from that into whose house the Moon was to enter after that, which at the birth of the man it doth retain. But the Caldeans enquire after the Genius, either from the Sun above, or from the Moon. But others, and many Hebrews think it is to be enquired after from some corner of the heaven, or from all of them. Others seek a good Genius from the eleventh house, which therefore they call a good Demon; but an evil Genius from the sixth, which therefore they call an evil Demon.

Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk III, ch 21.

My tendency is to agree with Robert Zoller's identification of the personal daimon/guardian angel with the almuten figuris whose calculation is provided for in Ibn Ezra's Book of Nativities. The almuten figuris, literally the ruler of the chart, is found through determining the almuten over a series of points in the natal chart.

Here is the Ibn Ezra method as set forth by Robert Zoller, which I use.

Find the essential dignities of the 7 planets in the degree of the Sun, the Moon, the Ascendant, the Part of Fortune, the previous syzygy (i.e. New or Full Moon closest to the nativity).

Add the point values for each planet. sign =5 , exaltation=4, triplicity ruler (day ruler by day or night ruler by night only) =3, term=2, face=1.

Then add 7 points for the day ruler, and 6 points for the hour ruler

Then add the following accidental dignity points to each planets' score

1st house =12
2nd= 6

The highest scoring planet is the almutem figuris.

The almuten figuris is indeed connected with the personal daimon or guardian angel. Iamblichos, in Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Assyrians, notes that the personal daimon can indeed be determined from the natal chart. Wilder trans. (titled Theurgia at 270.

Iamblichos notes that,

"This [daimon] therefore is present as an exemplar before the souls descend into the realm of generated existence. As soon as the soul chooses him for leader the [daimon] immediately comes into charge of completing of its vital endowments and when it descends into the body it unites with the body and becomes the guardian of it common living principle. He likewise directs the the private life of the soul and
whatever the conclusions we may arrive at by inference and reasoning he himself imparts to us the principles."

Theurgia at 271.

Zoller citing Picatrix says,

"If the Almuten figuris is the Sun, the native will want to lead, express his creative power and be recognized. If the Moon, s/he will want to care for, be cared for, eat and make love, dream, etc. If it is Mercury, s/he will be diligent in the sciences, business and communications. Id it is Venus s/he will be a lover of beauty, of music, of men and women etc. If it is Mars, s/he will fight in order to dominate. If it is Jupiter, s/he will philosophize and teach. If it is Saturn he will retire from society, investigate hidden things and suffer adversity."

So the role of astrology is initially to simply identify the planet of and planetary spirit ruling the almuten figuris.

Next it is also possible to determine the name of one's personal daimon or guardian angel using traditional astrology. Agrippa lays out the method for this at Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk III, ch. 27 and explains various methods for assigning Hebrew letters to the degrees of the Zodiac for a particular natal (or other) chart and then deriving the name of the ruling spirit or angel. Note that this will not be Michael or Gabriel or another angel you can Google, but unlike the almuten figuris, will be unique to you and not shared with anyone else unless they were born at the exact same time, date and place.

I provide both the almuten figuris and name of the guardian angel/personal daimon as part of my Astrological Checkup and
Spiritual Path Reading
and Full Natal Reading

Once the planetary ruler of the personal daimon is identified then we have a good idea of the type of spiritual path we are best suited to, and a beginning idea of the method of contacting the personal daimon. For example, if Saturn is the almuten figuris, our path and method of contact is to "retire from society, investigate hidden things and suffer adversity"

Iamblichus in De Mysteriis, says that, "...the invocation of daemons is made in the name of the single god who is their ruler, who from the beginning has apportioned a single daimon to each individual and who in the theurgic rites reveals according to his good pleasure the personal daimon to each...when the personal daimon comes to be with each person then he reveals the mode of worship appropriate to him and his name and imparts the particular manner in which he should be summoned." IX 9-10 trans. Clarke & Dillon (SBL 2003) at 341.

So traditional astrology can be of immense assistance in the process of identifying and contacting the guardian angel/personal daimon. I can also say that doing the rituals and astrological talismans of the almuten figuris can be quite beneficial. I have had excellent results from mine!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Elections & the Higher Cycles of Fate

When I talk to clients sometimes I get the impression they think I don't step outside my door without doing an election. Having done elections for over a decade I realize that it just isn't practical. And while it's probably not that great for hard selling, frankly elections aren't as all important as client appear to think.

Definitely for important activities it is nice to get a good election, to start with the flow rather than fighting against it. But again, I get the impression that some clients feel that if they only found the "perfect" election that success is 100% assured. A good reason, therefore, to be super prickly and insistent about getting the election of the century from 9-5 Monday-Friday in the next 5 days!

Think about it, if I pick an absolutely fabulous time to announce my candidacy for President of the US, will I be elected?

This mono-focus on the time of the election loses sight of the fact that elections are just one of multiple, interlocking circles of fate and while significant are probably the least important. If we pick a good time for an investment, for example, this is dependent on our personal fate, as set forth in our natal chart and the fate of our family which conditions how much money we have and our training, the fate of our locality, the fate of our nation, plus the local, national and world economies.

Lilly has an excellent discussion along these lines,

..for a Beggar's child may have a Nativity [natal chart] equal with a King's but then they are not both the sons of Kings...[while] a King obtains extraordinary or very great honour upon the influence thereof: the young Beggar having the very same [chart factors] has no more falls to his share, then either to fall to some course of life, not so sordid as to beg. A King has Loans or Moneys of his Subjects; it happens the Beggar has some more than usual bountiful Alms from some good people. A King performs some honourable exploit: a Beggar has more than ordinary respect among his fellow-beggars..."

Christian Astrology, pages 616-7.

I've often thought that if you had an extremely positive natal chart or election in Poland in 1939 you'd get to be a penniless refugee rather than being dead.

So let's consider planting. Clearly, even if you had a superlative election if you plant tomatoes in Iowa in January, they will not thrive. I planted mine a bit early, but covered them from the last cold snap and now they are doing great, without an election. The higher cycles of fate, here of the seasons, overcome the lack of an election.

Now certainly if you can elect, it is often worthwhile to do so. I once elected the planting of 20 seeds and every single one germinated, which was far better than normal.

This explains, however, why I have a more relaxed attitude about elections than some of my clients. They are like astrological magic, most useful in addition to taking practical action, not capable of totally overthrowing all of the other cycles of fate by themselves.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

At the End of My Rope with Electional Clients

I'm at a point where I am seriously considering dropping doing elections altogether, it's just too much aggravation!

How did I get to this state? Let me lay out the typical electional client scenario. The client knows a little bit about modern natal astrology. They have a limited date and/or time range available, usually in the next 30-90 days, but often less. I had a recent client who had less than week available.

I look at the date and time range, and give what I consider to be the best of the times and dates available.

The client gets the analysis, in which I layout the factors I considered and invariably says, "I'm worried about X or Y or Z" They then say, "I like date A, B or C better, could you please look at them for me?"

From the client side this is all very understandable, they are trying to find the absolute best time to do whatever it is they want to do, and from their knowledge of astrology they can see that there are MAJOR PROBLEMS with the election I propose, whereas the election they suggest is MUCH, MUCH BETTER!

The problem is that the client doesn't understand the following:

(1) Traditional astrology is different than modern astrology

(2) Electional astrology is different than natal astrology


How about some examples? Traditional versus modern: A recent client was concerned about Saturn in the 1st, except that Saturn was dignified by exaltation, triplicity and face and finally direct. As Bonatti says in his Aphorisms

The 44th is, To consider if the Significators, Fortune or Infortune, be in his own House, Exaltation, Triplicity, Terms or Face (but the latter being not of that virtue with the rest, ‘tis necessary it should be assisted with another Dignity, which is Hayz or Light); for in such case the Infortune loses his sting; and being rein’d in like a wild horse from doing mischief, his malice is converted into good, and though this seems strange, yet the ancients affirm and I myself have often found it true by experience.

Natal versus Horary: same client was concerned about the Moon square Saturn, and was not particularly mollified when I pointed out the aspect was separating. In horary and electional applying versus separating is a key different, applying showing current and future events, separation past or events that will not come about Christian Astrology pages 109-10

NO ELECTION IS PERFECT! This is the hardest concept for clients to grasp. Again the client yesterday, I explained it by saying, "What if I was a matchmaker and you said, 'get me the best date that walks down the street in the next 20 minutes' I do and they say, 'Hey this guy is short and fat, I want someone like Brad Pitt or maybe George Clooney' How likely is it that Brad Pitt is going to walk down the street in the next 20 minutes?

We are almost always dealing with a very small set of possible elections due to practical considerations, often we are limited to business hours, for example. We usually have a limited date range to deal with. This means that we cannot get the perfect election and invariably have to settle for the best that we can get, rather than the election of the century. There will almost always be negative factors in the chart, and the best we can do is minimize the negative and maximize the positive as much as possible.

This is not what client want to hear. They want to hear that everything is wonderful with their elections. I'd love to be able to do that, but I have to work with what the Heavens provide me with.

This problem is compounded by the client, not understanding traditional and/or electional astrology and thinking that innocuous factors are negative or otherwise misunderstanding how traditional elections are done. A constant problem is looking at irrelevant houses, "I don't like Saturn in the 3rd" in a business election for example. In natal astrology, yes we look at all the houses. In horary and electional we concentrate on certain key houses. Besides, Saturn and other negative factors have to be SOMEWHERE in the chart, we can't whisk them out of existence!

Finally the client is worried, worried they won't get whatever they are hoping for from the election, worried about X, Y or Z from their limited astrological knowledge and worried that clearly I don't know what I'm doing since I gave them such a piece of $^%& election.

So they tell me, "I'm worried" and they suggest other elections. What I don't understand about this is, if I am so inept that I overlooked important negative factors in my suggested election, isn't my opinion worthless? Why bother with me further at all, why try to get my seemingly useless seal of approval on further elections?

From my standpoint, 99% of the time the concerns that the electional client expresses are either irrelevant, confused or factors that we are stuck with due to the limited range of dates and times available. For $55 I don't have time to spend an extra hour, patiently explaining the intricacies of traditional electional and going through endless elections until the client is satisfied, when they don't know what they are doing.

Ultimately the problem is that what electional clients are looking for is a secretary or personal assistant to pop up charts for them to repeatedly reject, until they finally find one that they like.

As an attorney, this is like having a client want to edit my briefs and change my legal arguments. It's definitely the clients' role to decide the ultimate objective and to set the practical parameters, time, date and location for the election. At that point I take over and use my expertise to get the best possible election that I can using these parameters. The client can decide that they will not use the election, but it is rude and foolish to try to micro manage an expert. If you know enough to micro manage you can do the work yourself presumably!

So I don't know. If I didn't have to earn a living, I think I might just quit doing elections. It's a no win scenario! I thought I would put this out there as a warning for fellow professional astrologers and also to see if anyone had a bright suggestions about how I can perhaps alter clients' expectations or better deal with them in the context of elections. I have started doing a big disclaimer on my website, which is also sent to every electional client. See Electional ordering with disclaimer

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Making Money As an Esotericist Through New Techs Paradigms

I got into a "how can you accept payment for the sacred art of X, Y and Z?" discussion on a group that got me thinking and I realized that books, whether as hard copy or electronic media, were likely to be considered more broadly acceptable. Of course, the "everything I want should be free" contingent won't like any of this, but nobody gets paid for nothing clearly isn't a viable option for the economy.

I'll still run into people that tell me they have written a book, or worse, a novel and are looking for an agent, so they can get a publisher. Folks, this is a very 20th century approach! This is still thinking in terms of printing technology where you do big print runs, store the books in a warehouses, sell through intricate distribution chains from a distributor to book stores. The publisher takes big risks and has big capital costs for author advances, printing, marketing, editing etc. The focus is on bestsellers and mass sales with a tiny profit per sale. Very hit or miss and only for the big boys.

Or alternatively you can do the tiny occult press thing. Again a big, big risk because you need to sink a huge amount of money into your print runs. Sales are slow, then you sell out your print run after many years and suddenly with the book out of print the price skyrockets and the used books dealers get the profit.

The game has, or rather, is changing drastically. Amazon killed the local bookstore. But they never had the titles I wanted anyway, even a huge Borders only had 100,000 titles, while Amazon has everything in print, literally millions of titles.

But the real change is print on demand (POD). Instead having to sink money into print runs, you publish by uploading a pdf and then when the customer orders it, the printer prints the book for them. The cost per copy is higher, but you don't need to have any money upfront. No risk means you can take more chances in terms of sales.

Put that POD book on Amazon and customers can't tell the difference between you and Random House. They order the book and it shows up looking like the paperback or hardcover they are used to.

Now Amazon takes a hefty bite and POD is more expensive, but you aren't paying the bookstore its 40% trade discount and you've cut out the publisher and distributor.

Couple of other points. First, you can target a much smaller, niche audience profitably. Our translation of the Complete Picatrix has sold less than 300 copies, which seems miniscule, but since we aren't splitting the profits with a publisher or distributor and we have no overhead, it's been profitable from the first copy. We even used the POD concept for our high end handmade cloth bound and leatherbound Picatrix editions.

Rather than doing very expensive print runs, the customer orders a copy and we had a local book binder do the binding. This meant that every customer of the cloth and leatherbound got a special dedication page with their name on it, the leatherbound, they could choose the color of leather, designs, sigils, etc, as well.

Basically we are back to the 14th century! Before printing was invented, each manuscript was done only after an order and could be done uniquely for each client. Modern technology has changed the publishing paradigm.

And this is just for hardcopy books! I'm not a big fan of selling pdfs because they are ultra easy to pirate. I know that some of the esoteric heavy hitters do have good luck with pdfs. I'm not quite ready to do Kindle or other e-book readers, but I think these have potential too. I was thinking I would do a pdf with a Creative Commons license that people could freely distribute it if they didn't change or charge for it, to get some useful information out there along with some advertising.

Any hooooo, when I heard on Jason Miller's Sorcery course (very interesting by the way, I love his practical approach) that a popular idea for making money with esoteric stuff is opening a bricks and mortar occult shop, I again, had to say, how 20th century! Heavy overhead, big time commitment and limited to local business. It might be worth it if you used the shop as marketing tool for your Internet business, but otherwise, no way!

I know that there are plenty of people out there that magic, etc., are just hobbies for or are something they do for free for friends and family. That's great, but there are increasing numbers of us that are so serious about this that they want to do it full time and give value for the $.

For those people, don't get locked in the past. We haven't really thought through how to use Internet and these incredible technological changes, but the opportunities are really out there! Don't get locked into the paradigms of fading technology!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Astral High Magic: De Imaginibus of Thabit Ibn Qurra

I am very pleased to announce the launch of the newest book from Renaissance Astrology, Astral High Magic: De Imaginibus of Thabit Ibn Qurra. Here is a link for MORE INFO

"What's this Chris?" "Don't you already have a translation of De Imaginibus?" "What's it about anyway, I've never heard of it?"

Ok, first this is a brand new and greatly expanded translation. I did the earlier translation, John Michael Greer, whose Latin is far better than mine, did this second and much improved translation. One thing that makes a big difference is that this translation uses two different versions of De Imaginibus, where the earlier translation was just based on one. So significant and important improvement! I've also gone ahead and revised my already extensive commentary and added several example talismans and charts, so you can see these talismans in action. Finally, Astral High Magic features the art of Robert Place, a very talented visionary artist.

But what is De Imaginibus? Why is it important? De Imaginibus means "On Images" or more loosely, "How to make talismans" This is the most important book of astrological magic after Picatrix. Everybody who was anybody, Albertus Magnus, Ficino, Agrippa and even Picatrix, quote from and use De Imaginibus. And truly it is the highest of high magic since it combines ceremonial magic with house based talismans the height, the acme, the summit of astrological magic.

This is a key text and if you are at all interested in astrological magic you want to have a copy, particularly of this newest, highly revised edition with a new, bigger translation.

The cost is $24.95 plus shipping, Here is the info page

Here's what John Michael Greer, the translator had to say about Astral High Magic: De Imaginibus of Thabit Ibn Qurra:

First of all, Chris isn't overstating the importance of this book. It's not an equivalent of Picatrix in any way; where the unknown author of Picatrix was a collector and editor who assembled every scrap of magical lore he could get into one big volume, Thabit ibn Qurra was one of the major intellectual figures of his time, a brilliant scholar and astrologer who wrote on a wide range of subjects and received patronage from the very top end of the political scene. De Imaginibus is Thabit's own work through and through, a description by one of history's greatest astrological magicians on his methods of casting elections for world-class talismans. Translating it was a little like sitting in a corner of Thabit's study and looking over his shoulder as he worked; I tried to catch some of that quality in the translation.

Second, while Chris tends to be overly modest about his Latin abilities, I had a huge advantage in making my translation that he didn't have -- since I was working off two different Latin translations of the Arabic original, which routinely used different words and grammar to communicate the same point, I was able to get a much more precise sense of Thabit's meaning. There are some places in each version where the Latin is ambiguous, and in making his translation from one version, Chris was forced to guess at the meaning; his guesses were good ones, by and large, but as it happened, some of them were wrong -- and that led him to misstate some important details of the magical work. Even if you've got the older translation, in other words, , you need the new one.

And if you don't have the older translation, and you're going to be practicing astrological magic -- well, in that case, you need the new one!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why the Moon in the 1st is Meaningless: Traditional Astrology is NOT Reductionist

I definitely have a tendency to get cranky, certainly part of that is Mars in Leo retrograde opposed to Mercury, not an excuse for a character defect, but perhaps a partial explanation.

The other more reasonable explanation for crankiness is that it's hard to swim against the stream. What do I mean?

I frequently get questions like, "What does the Moon in the 1st mean?" and no other info! We don't know if this is a horary, election or natal chart, we don't know the surrounding life situation and we don't know the time, date and place of the chart. Under these circumstances, the Moon in the 1st is meaningless, because we don't know the context.

This is hard for the questioner to understand because the question seems natural to them. They almost certainly haven't thought why this is "natural' way to proceed, but it is, for most students of astrology and likely astrologers.

What they are doing is trying to break down the chart into its smallest constituent parts and then find the meaning in these individual parts. They can then take all of these meanings, string them together and understand the meaning of the whole chart. This is analytical reasoning "The process of separating something into its constituent elements." This is very basic to the modern scientific method.

We always have a worldview and a philosophy that we apply to organize and filter our experiences. "I don't have a philosophy" just means that we are unconscious of it. The standard scientific approach is reductionism Wikipedia article on reductionism "an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things" Understanding this method of organizing our understanding makes it perfectly understandable why it would be "natural" to want to break a chart down to understand it.

However, is this how a chart works?

I was watching some new BBC updating of Sherlock Holmes recently, which is a very good example of analytical reasoning. Holmes, looks for tiny details, the multiple scratches on a cell phone charge slot (modern) or scratches on a watch key slot (original), and deduces that the owner is frequently drunk or the burns on a discarded hat indicating the wearer has gas lights. Seeing all these tiny details separately, Holmes deduces the facts of the cases he investigates.

In fact, this NOT typically how actual detectives solve crimes. For example, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets is a 1991 book written by Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon describing a year spent with detectives from the Baltimore Police Department homicide squad. What is notable about the murder cases that are successfully solved in the book is that either the detectives get a lucky break, slog, slog, slog or if there is a flash of brilliance, it is of a singularly intuitive, holistic nature. In one case, a very experienced detective comes into the crime scene and intuitively points to a glass sitting casually on the counter, with nothing apparently distinctive about it. The crime lab fingerprints it and it comes back with the fingerprints that turn out to be those of the suspect! The detective had been in many crimes scenes and the glass just "felt" out of place in the context of the entire scene. But what alternative is there to reductionist thinking? Was the detective just making a wild guess?

While the word "holistic" has been super New Age-ified, it does identify an alternative to reductionism. Wikipedia alternatives to reductionism
Quoting from Wikipedia,

"many systems are so complex that it will not ever be possible to describe all their details. Drawing an analogy to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in physics, he argues that many interesting and relevant ecological phenomena cannot be replicated in laboratory conditions, and thus cannot be measured or observed without influencing and changing the system in some way. He also points to the importance of interconnectedness in biological systems."

An astrological chart is not a long list of discrete bits that are best understood by breaking down into bite size pieces. This is a "cookbook" methodology "Moon in the 1st means X" "Sun in Leo means Y" "Jupiter trine Saturn means Z" All of the constituent parts of the chart need to be considered together so we can look through the chart and see the underlying pattern of the situation that the chart reflects.

So while holistic has connotations of loosey-goosey fuzzy New Age gibberish, while analytical seems very rigorous and scientific, in fact, when it comes to traditional astrological delineation, the holistic method gives the most voluminous, most precise and most accurate predictions.

Admittedly we need to start with a cookbook method at the very beginning of our astrological studies. But just like looking at Hitler's chart and others where we know the outcome already, these are kindergarten methods, not how we want to proceed if we wish to be masters of traditional astrology.

The traditional astrological learning process is not, as one would surmise from the analytical/reductionist methodology, just a process of piling up more and information. Invariably my students seem to bumble around when they get to actual charts and then suddenly "AH HA" a light goes on and they can put all the pieces together.

But this leaves me with a dilemma. How do I respond when someone asks "What does the Moon in the 1st mean?" For them this is a perfectly normal and natural question and if I am going to be a helpful teacher or source of information I should answer them and give a brief bite sized explanation of the Moon in the 1st, eg "You may feel more nurturing today. Feeling like mothering people and showing you care. Your emotions will right on the surface. You may feel more vulnerable on this day." online astrologer

This is like being a cab driver and having a passenger want to go to the Air & Space Museum on Sunday at midnight. Are you helping them by doing what they ask, when you know the museum is closed?

I suppose from now on, I can give them a link to this post!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Talisman Consecration Ritual

I had a recent request for a talisman consecration video. One of the things I really like about the Internet is the proliferation not just of written information, but also visual info. For example, I have hosta, popular lily type plant, in my yard. It grows like crazy and you are supposed to split them periodically. How to do it? About 100 videos that tell you how. Having never done it, I think I can pretty easily now.

So, I'm sympathetic to wanting to see how talisman consecrations are performed. Personally, I don't have any videos that I have done on this. Main reason is that the production values that the modern audience demands, even for free videos on Youtube, is very high. I get complaints about the sound quality of my videos made before I had a professional quality microphone and a recording expert buddy who does the sound recording and editing for me. To film a ritual would require multiple cameras, makeup, costuming, lighting, video editing, etc., if I wanted to avoid getting pounded by critics for not making the super glossy, professional free videos that today's discerning Youtuber clearly demands.

But I want to reassure everyone about ritual. In our atheistic/materialistic world ritual is something alien to most of us. We likely haven't had contact with anything other than dead ritual, haven't been able to see or participate in a living spiritual ritual where the participants trusted that the ritual was meaningful and effective.

The basic template for ritual and for consecration in particular, in the Western tradition, is fairly straightforward with three steps: Open, Do the ritual, Close.

(1) Open

You set up your sacred space and begin the ritual by separating the sacred space from the mundane. Alternately you can think of this as opening up a window or door into the spiritual. Or, finally you can think of it as recognizing the true spiritual nature of all reality and briefly dropping our illusory views of mundane reality.

I open by sprinkling water, and invoking divine names. I call on the 4 archangels (Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and Uriel) of the directions and sprinkle water in their respective directions.

Not only does this demarcate the beginning of the ritual, but it cleans out the space from any spiritual hangers on that are attracted by the spiritual energy/work being done there. Also blesses the space and ritual.

Now, the Picatrix style ritual that I use differs significantly from the standard ceremonial magic, particularly Goetic or outright demonic ceremonial magic, in that there is no magic circle and nothing is done to protect the mage from the spirits who are invoked. This is because we are invoking celestial spirits who are basically angelic. We do not need to protect ourselves from them nor can we command them, as one would do with a Goetic spirit or demon.

(2) Ritual

Essentially an astrological talisman consecration consists of invoking or calling upon the respective spirits by name and asking them to take up residence in the talisman.

We have a reasonable number of invocations in our traditional sources, particularly Picatrix Bk III, ch 7 for planets and Bk IV, ch 9 for Mansions of the Moon, but for fixed stars and decans we have to write our own.

Generally the Picatrix invocations call upon the planets by various names and then list their attributes, which can be both positive and negative.

While we are reading the invocation we generally have one or more candles burning and have incense burning as well. These spirits, like most benefic ones, tend to like candles and incense.

A key part of ritual is suffumigation which is simply moving the talisman back and forth through the smoke of the incense, while saying the invocation.

(3) Close

We end the ritual, closing the sacred space and returning to the mundane world. I usually say divine names and just say, "I now end this ritual"

I am very precise and rigid when it comes to astrological timing, but ritual is way more free form. I am increasingly moving towards short but heartfelt ritual as opposed to long, tired ritual. There is a wide variety of things you can do in ritual so long as they are appropriate.

Appropriate? First of all, be respectful! This is not a joke, these are actual, existent and very powerful beings. We can also figure out what is appropriate by looking at planetary rulership. Sun rules yellow, ok, yellow candles. Sun rules frankincense, ok, frankincense is good solar incense.

I can tell, however, that a lot of people are afraid of doing consecrations, in particular afraid that if they make a mistake, that it will blow up like a grenade. This is going to the other extreme of taking consecration as a joke. It is not a joke, but neither is it deadly serious or dangerous.

Couple of influences. First, as mentioned, this is new to most people. Second, 1000 years of anti-magic propaganda by organized religion, jealous of its monopoly on the spiritual. Third, the quite reasonable concern about Goetic spirits and down right evil demons.

My experience with celestial spirits has been overwhelming positive. Treat them respectfully and appropriately and a wide range of ritual, inspiring to you, is possible and effective!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Horaries about the News?

Not infrequently I get asked to horaries about topics in the news like Obama's re-election, or the outcome of a celebrity scandal.

Ok, I wouldn't like to say that this sort of horary was impossible, because Lilly used to do political horary questions. However, the problem is that unless you are personally and viscerally involved in a situation asking a horary about it lacks serious emotional punch. The further you get from a question that affects you personally and directly, the closer it gets to idle curiosity and the less "juicy" and focused the chart is.

The other problem is that with a binary question (guilty or not guilty) you can guess, get it right (?) and fool yourself in to thinking you predicted it. This is a common problem with presidential and other political election horaries. Really you need to be able to get multiple factors correctly predicted in a chart to be able to say that you nailed it.

Part of my problem, too, is that I am a professional horary astrologer. I am typically doing 2 sometimes 3 horaries a day. I find any reading exhausting because I have to really tune in on the situation and I have client who is paying for an accurate prediction. I don't do "freebies" or horaries for fun anymore than most people go into to work on Saturday and put in a few hours for their beloved boss and company for free, "just for the fun of it!"

I do get asked occasionally by the media for this sort of prediction. They like it, it's flashy, it's a topic in the headlines. From my standpoint it's a bit too dangerous because there is too much on the line. I don't feel that an astrological prediction will be judged fairly. The standard modern world view of atheistic/materialism KNOWS that astrology can't work, so an astrological prediction is judged on a much higher and more rigorous standard than say, economics, which is awful at prediction but rests on a more acceptable theoretical basis, so its errors are excused.

Plus when I make a prediction I am not only putting my own competence on the line, often to be judged unfairly, but the very efficacy of traditional astrology itself. If a particular prediction isn't 110% then not only am I fraud, but so is astrology itself.

So, I wouldn't want to say that this sort of prediction is impossible or wrong, but personally, I don't do 'em!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Renaissance Natal Astrology Course

I put on a huge burst of speed and I have now finished all of the lessons in my new Renaissance Natal Astrology Course! We are ready to start taking pre-orders with shipment starting on May 16, 2011!

I was really pleased as I got into working on the Natal Course because I realized that the Renaissance method, which you could almost describe as "quick and dirty" really works well. The Renaissance Natal Astrology Course is based heavily on William Lilly and John Gadbury and could just as easily be described as a horary method of natal astrology, where our focus is on houses and house rulers, rather than the more individualistic, idiosyncratic medieval methods of Bonatti, based on the older Arabic methods. They work too, but take a lot more work to master. The Renaissance method is much, much easier to learn.

That's not to say that we don't use some more complex methodologies. For example, let's look at lesson 10; Manner of Death. This uses what initially seems like a complex technique using the Sun, the Moon, violent signs (?) and violent fixed stars. However, if you sit down and work through it, it's very logical and straightforward and what interesting results you get from it!

One of the things that was important to me in the Renaissance Natal Astrology Course was to strictly avoid "celebrity" charts. We will not be looking at Hitler's chart! Why? Because if you know the native (person whose chart you are reading) and their life you can simply fit the chart to what you know. This is not prediction! In the Renaissance Natal Astrology Course we use charts from real people, with the locations and their identities concealed, but most importantly, you don't know the outcome or results of these charts. You really learn how to predict! We take off the "training wheels" so to speak, go out on a limb and learn how to deal with charts whose results are unknown. If you want to be a true astrologer and particularly if you want to read for clients, this is KEY!

Let's look at the Course lessons

Lesson 1: History of Astrology & the Traditional World View

Lesson 2: Planets, Signs & Essential Dignities

Lesson 3: Traditional Charts & Houses

Lesson 4: Aspects & Accidental Dignities

Lesson 5: Natal Introduction & Temperament, Wit & Manners

Lesson 6: Income & Career

Lesson 7: Health & Illness

Lesson 8: Relationships & Children

Lesson 9: Spirituality

Lesson 10: Manner of Death

Lesson 11: Timing in the Natal Chart

Lesson 12: Natal Talisman Prescriptions

The Masterpiece: Final Readings

Just like my other full courses, we learn the basics of traditional astrology. You don't need to know anything to start my courses and in fact you are almost ahead of the game if you haven't studied modern astrology, since you don't need to unlearn anything. We go step by step, clearly and straightforwardly through the material. I fully explain everything in the lessons and since you are studying with me personally, if you have any questions about the current lesson you can ask me, either by phone or e-mail. There are no grades, you just need to master the material in each lesson before you go on. If you need more material to work with, I create it for you. You can take as much time as you want, there are no deadlines for completion!

Is this a "complete" traditional natal course? I don't think anyone can honestly say that their course is truly complete, the area is just too big to cover everything. What I have done is to focus on those areas which I feel I have mastered, where I can give a very precise, accurate answer. The Renaissance Natal Astrology Course teaches how to give my Full Natal Reading and clients have been very happy with these readings recently. "Astoundingly accurate" or even "Disturbingly accurate" is what they've been saying. Certainly the hot areas that clients want to hear about are covered, money, career, love, health & illness, children, spirituality, even manner of death and timing using firdaria and solar revolutions.

One of things I am really glad I dealt with in the course, however, is working with our 17th century texts. I explain how to read these texts and how to "translate" them, really not a big deal! This opens up 1000s and 1000s of pages of material and allows you to work with any area of traditional natal astrology that exists by making you savvy enough to use original sources. I should mention that included with the course are two free paperback traditional astrology sources Ferrier's Judgment of Nativities and Poole's Country Astrology

On the Course CD are the traditional texts in pdf:

* Johannes Angelus' Astrological Optics
* Al-Biruni's Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology
* Guido Bonatti's 146 Aphorisms from his Liber Astronomiae
* William Lilly's complete Christian Astrology in facsimile and
selections from Christian Astrology Book III in modern font
* John Gadbury's Doctrine of Nativities
* Henry Coley's Key to Astrology-Natal Portions
* John Patridge's Mikropanastron-Natal Portions
* John Gadbury's Collection of Nativities
* John Gadbury's Nativity of King Charles

This allows you to really become a "complete" natal astrology since you then have access to the whole range of traditional materials. This includes all of Ben Dykes' great translations of Arabic astrologers. Though if you read these you will find that the real problem with traditional sources is not the s's that look like f's or the the older style of modern English, but the concepts! This is what taking a course is really excellent for, mastering step by step the complex concepts and techniques.

It's not really a surprise, I guess, that my interest and expertise in astrological magic shows up in the Renaissance Natal Astrology Course! There are lots of cool magical areas you can delve into in natal astrology. For example the name of your guardian angel/spirit can be determined from your birth chart. Agrippa mentions this in book III of TBOP, but is very confusing. I teach how to do this process manually and the course also includes the great Daimon Name Calculator standalone software by quaero lux. Zip! What would take an hour or more is done in a second and all the English, Kabbalistic, Hebrew, evil daimon etc, etc, names listed by Agrippa are right there! I also include traditional images for each of the 360 degrees, very cool, 300 years older than the Sabian Symbols.

What's really exciting, however, is a whole lesson on prescribing astrological remedies based on the natal chart! Before now astrologers could just predict, now with astrological magic, we can actually DO SOMETHING with the birth chart. I explain how to analyze a chart for all types of talismans, in particular planetary talismans. How to figure out which planets are good, fair or to be avoided for a natal chart. But we go further in depth in analyzing problem chart areas and what to do about them, planetary charity for afflicted planets and planetary meditation. very, very useful for yourself and very helpful for reading charts for clients and unique to the Renaissance Natal Astrology Course.

So sounding pretty good! But I want to encourage you to pre-order the Renaissance Natal Astrology Course so there are some special bonuses for pre-ordering, which you can do until May 15, 2011.

First, pre-orders will include the following bonus pdf traditional natal astrology texts:

Christopher Heydon, the Wisdom of Solomon, 234 pages
Kirby, the Marrow of Astrology, 131 pages
Salmon, Soul of Astrology, 800 pages
Searle, Introduction to Astrology, 92 pages
Worsdale, Collection of Nativities, 59 pages
Worsdale, Natal Astrology, 261 pages
Young Student's Guide to Astrology, 270 pages

That's almost 2000 pages of material on traditional natal astrology! Some of these sources I have never even heard of before and all of them are available only from Renaissance Astrology and as part of the Renaissance Natal Astrology Course.

Plus there's more! I have created a special Renaissance Astrology Traditional Natal Astrology page for Solar Fire. This needs a copy of Solar Fire to run, but is very cool! This page has everything you need to judge a natal chart, right on one page. A traditional square chart, aspect grid, essential dignities set up just the way we use them in the Course, fixed stars, planetary speeds, a bunch of useful natal Arabic Parts, and very, very useful, lunar phases with the all important pre-natal syzygy (previous Full or New Moon) for the guardian angel name, PLUS, the complex almuten figuris calculation of Ibn Ezra built right in! Wow! Again, for now, this is only available if you pre-order the Renaissance Natal Astrology Course!

Ok, how much is the Natal Astrology Course? I went back and forth about this, but these prices will be the same whether you pre-order or not. I thought the most fair thing to do was to give a discount to all my students all the time and give the additional pre-order bonuses, too!

If you have never taken a Renaissance Astrology full course, then the Renaissance Natal Astrology Course is $299.95 plus shipping and you can order here

If you have taken either the Horary, Electional or Astrological Magic Courses, then the Renaissance Natal Astrology Course is $50 off!!! Just e-mail me at for the payment link.

Pre-orders and bonuses end and shipping begins May 15, 2011. If you want to lock in the bonuses you can start with a $50 layaway payment, so long as you pay the first installment before May 15, 2011. Just e-mail me at for the layaway payment link.