Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lost Item Horary

You know, I've said I'm not that good at lost item horaries, but then a very nice question comes along and proves me wrong! Here it is!

Question: Where is the lost salt?
Time Question Received & Understood: 4:12 pm CST December 17, 2013
Place Question Received & Understood: Iowa City, IA 41 N 39 91 W 31

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

Astrological Factors Considered:

In this chart 21 Gemini rises and it is Moon hour. The chart is not radical/rooted, but we can get an accurate answer from it.

As Gemini rises the querent is signified by Mercury who is in detriment and going to combustion conjunct the 7th house cusp.

The ruler of the 2nd house of moveable objects is the Moon, who signifies the sale. The Moon, rules salty tastes, says Agrippa TBOP BK I ch 24 and Al-Biruni

The Moon is dignified by sign in the 1st house.

The Moon squares Mars. Mercury the significator of the querent conjoins the Sun.


Mercury natural ruler of thought is afflicted and going to combustion. The querent is not thinking clearly and not seeing clearly.

The Moon, ruler of the 2nd naturally rules salt which is appropriate. The Moon is highly dignified, so the salt container is not damaged, but in perfect condition. The Moon is in the 1st an angular house so in the querent’s house and very near by. The Moon makes an antiscion to the Ascendant, a sign of recovery.


About 10 minutes after hearing the horary, the querent realized that the salt was in a different container from the one they remembered and found the actual container, very nearby and in perfect condition.


It really never ceases to amaze me how perfectly horaries can both fit and reveal the situation. This one was spot on and I was relaxed enough with the chart to really nail the reading!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What is It about Elections?

What is it about elections that drives so many clients crazy! I just had an electional client demand a refund because I didn't write in my e-mail, "Dear [Name of Client]" and end the e-mail with "Sincerely yours" This, and my boilerplate electional disclaimer was simply unacceptable!!!!

Yes, indeedy! This certainly strikes me as bizarre since I am fairly old fashioned in my e-mails and do tend to write full sentences, capitalize and use commas and periods. I am accustomed to getting e-mails in "texting" style with no caps, no punctuation and all lower case, but it usually doesn't send me into a rage.

No, it just must be something about elections. I think I am going to do a video about elections, but it's going to be tough, I'd estimate that I have problems with electional customers or they have problems with me about 50-70% of the time. For horary or natal the problems are perhaps 5% of the time, so it's not just me with Mars in Leo.

Let me see if I can identify some of the problems:

(1) Excessively high expectations of the results of an election

Many clients have the expectation that if they can just find the exact, perfect election that anything can be accomplished. Certainly much of modern advertising and indeed the modern ego based outlook does buy into the idea that you can have anything you want and in fact have a constitutional right to whatever you want. The idea of Fate is downright upsetting to moderns.

But in traditional astrology we recognize that an election, a choice of time for an activity, is perhaps the lowest and least powerful cycle of fate in operation. If we chose a good time for money, we must also consider money in our natal chart, our personal life time fate. We need to consider the fate of our family, and our social standing. Lilly says that if the son of a king and the son of a peasant have the same birth chart, that the son of the king becomes a king, but the son of a peasant becomes a big man in his neighborhood. We need to consider the fate of the economy, an otherwise great election during the Great Depression, wouldn't do as well as a similar election in a bull market. We also need to consider the fate of our country and the world as a whole. I've often thought that if you had a good natal chart and good election in Poland in 1939 you get to be a refugee rather than being dead!

So in traditional astrology Fate exists and we operate within the limits that it sets at various levels. Electional astrology is like gardening, if we wisely chose within the options presented to us, we can reap our harvest. We cannot overthrow Fate, just play the cards that have been dealt us well.

This makes sense. If I have the greatest election of the century, will I as a 5'6" 50 year old be able to play professional basketball? If I have a great election will I be elected President of the US? No matter how good the election, these are impossible for me, given my situation.


The next problem is that electional customers feel that having paid, they have a right to, if not a perfect election, then an election with no problem areas.

This is like asking for a whole day with no problems. Even on the best day of my life there were moments of unhappiness and difficulty. No matter what time you chose there will be some astrological problems with it. It simply is impossible to avoid all problems. The secret of electional is minimizing the problems as much as possible. It is always possible to find the best election over any given date and time range, while this election may not be that great, it does have the inestimable advantage of avoiding the really terrible times.

Still many electional customers are unhappy that there are problems in their election, not realizing that this is inevitable.

(3) Modern versus Traditional Astrology

Most electional clients know a little bit about modern natal astrology, thus are an excellent example of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing since I use traditional electional astrological techniques.

Even in traditional there are significant differences between natal and electional astrology, for example the difference in use of separating and applying aspects, or the fact that in natal astrology the whole chart is significant while in electional only particular factors are relevant.

Furthermore, there really isn't any established standard modern electional technique, every modern astrologer who does electional seems to do it differently.

This leads to many misunderstandings and unhappy customers. What they consider to be a problem, may not be in traditional astrology and what they consider to be vital, also may not be in traditional methodology.

So it is not really surprising that there are lots of problems with electional customers. It's really not their fault that they don't understand the process and have unreasonable expectations, it's just a continuing problem that I need to keep working on. Still it may be unsolvable, we shall see.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Incredible Pull of Nothing

Recently I came across this very interesting definition of what was referred to as extreme scientific empirical materialism:

“we're all nothing but matter and energy and eventually the universe is going to die as if we never existed, so what's the point in trying to hope and fantasize in a world full of suffering and destruction where morality is dictated by force. Your consciousness is merely an electrochemical reaction inside a dying chemical reactor called the brain which, out of animalistic instincts to protect itself from pain, creates the illusion of meaning and significance in a reality that has none. Good, evil, morality and thought are nothing but illusions, with no absolute standard in the universe by which to prove their absolute existence as immutable physical laws.”

I would argue that this is a worldview that most of us are familiar with, I might even say it haunts us. In fact, we could distill the whole paragraph down to “we’re all nothing” and “Good, evil, morality and thought are nothing” Or this quote from a book review on a recent popular philosophy book, “which tackles one of the oldest and most profound questions that humans have asked; ‘Why is there something instead of nothing?’” What I find fascinating is that it is so easy to accept the existence of nothing and in fact nothing is the default setting, of which there can be no doubt, while the existence of something, anything is questionable. Properly speaking this is nihilism, but of course nihilism has a bad reputation

Sometimes we talk about worldview like fish swimming in the sea of a belief or attitude, but for moderns the belief in nothing is more than simply a concept, it is a philosophical black hole. Please don’t take this as simply pejorative, as just name calling. I’m trying to make a more exact point. A black hole is so dense that even light cannot escape, it has such incredible mass that it exerts an irresistible gravitational pull if you are within range, everything within a vast distance of the black hole is affected by its great power.

The despair and hopelessness that is a natural result of this nihilistic fusion of materialism and existentialism is simply part of our worldview. The antidote is often a Promethean myth of the hero, who despite the ever presence and inevitability of nothing, strives bravely and self creates, ala Ayn Rand.

For every society except the modern, the idea of “nothing” seems rather odd. After all can you show me nothing? Your hand appears to be empty, but it is full of air and electrical and magnetic fields, chi and prana, etc., etc. Further, once we posit it, once we describe it, once it has qualities, nothing is a something.

Why is this even important? Faith in nothing has incredibly diverse consequences, particularly in ethics, but even in our day to day lives. If nothing matters, if there are no consequences, then there is no real need for limits.

I suppose there are nihilistic mages and astrologers, but since most modern nihilism relies on the sort of extreme scientific materialism noted above this poses a problem. How can we practice spiritual arts if there is no spirit?

Ultimately, for me, while I like the material boosts I have had with magic, and the ability to predict with astrology, perhaps the most important effect of my astrological and magical practice has been to slowly move me out of the gravitational pull of nothing.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Partile, Platic Aspects and Fossilized Technique

I had a good question recently from a student who asked me what the significance of partile versus platic (or platick) aspects. First, what are they? Here's Lilly's explanation from Christian Astrology at pages 106-7:

"There is also a Partill or Platick aspect: Partill aspect is when two Planets are exactly so many degrees from each other as make a perfect aspect: as if Mercury be in nine degrees of Aries, and Jupiter in nine degrees of Leo, this is a Partill Trine aspect: So Sun in one degree of Taurus, and Moon in one degree of Cancer, make a Partill Sextile, and this is a strong sign or argument for performance of anything, or that the matter is neer hand concluded when the aspect is so partill, and signifies good; and it's as much a sign of present evill when mischief is threatened."

"A Platick Aspect is that which admits of the Orbs or Rayes of two Planets that signifie any matter: As if Venus be in the tenth degree of Taurus, and Saturn in eighteen degrees of Virgo, here Venus hath a Platick Trine, or is in a Platick Trine of Saturn, because she is within the Moity of both their Orbs; for the Moity of Saturn his Rayes or Orbs is five, and of Venus 4, and the distance betwixt them and their perfect aspect is eight degrees..."

So, partile does not mean less than a degree away, it means that the planets are both in the same degree of the sign they are in. Ok, Lilly mentions partile and platick, I have students learn it in the course, but what does it mean?

This raises the issue of what I call "fossilized" technique in traditional astrology. Traditional astrology, not surprisingly, is very respectful of tradition and what has been passed down from earlier practitioners. Traditional astrologers did not simply toss out technique when they didn't understand it or didn't use it. Arabic astrology, which is the basis of traditional European astrology, was much more complex and so there are lots of things the Arabic astrologers used, which the medieval and Renaissance astrologers knew about and might even mention, but then didn't use.

Partile and platic or platick aspects are one such fossilized technique. Lilly mentions them, but I don't think he ever really uses them in a delineation. What I would say is that with applying aspects the closer you get the stronger, or the quicker, so clearly a partile aspect is very strong or very quick.

Let me mention another interesting thing about separating aspects of less than a degree similar but not the same as partile/platick, this is from Bonatti's 146 Considerations

"17. The 17th Consideration, is to view whether the Planet that is Significator, be safe and prosperous, that is free from any affliction from the Infortunes; and one of the Fortunes casts his beams or light on the beams of such Significator; for then shall that Planet be said to be safe and guarded till the Fortune is passed by the space of one minute, and signifies the perfection of the thing. But after he has passed him one minute, it will not be perfected or accomplished; for it only raises hopes; as (we said) the malevolent in the like case could do nothing, but create fear. Yet is such a hope as the Querent will believe and fancy himself as it were certain; yet not without something of doubt;

as for example, A Question is proposed of some weighty and difficult business, whether it will be done and brought to pass or not? And 17 degrees of Scorpio Ascends, and Mars is 12 degrees 13 minutes of Taurus, and Venus in 12 degrees and 14 minutes of Capricorn, so that Venus is joined to Mars by a Trine, and receives him in her House, who likewise receives her in his Exaltation; so that the Querent thinks, and all others concerned verily believe, that it would be accomplished by that aspect of perfect friendship; in which flattering hopes they continue till Venus hath passed the Aspect of Mars one whole degree; but at last the business comes to just nothing at all, because Venus was past Mars one minute at the time of the question proposed. Yet may a thing possibly in such a case be brought to pass, but not without extraordinary labour and trouble. "

I've seen situations where we have a separating aspect of less than a degree, and the asked for thing was perfected, but with a huge hassle.

So as traditional astrologers, we frequently encounter technique that we don't use or often don't fully understand, but just because we don't understand it, we don't simply toss it out. We respect the tradition and often, when we delve deeper, we find for ourselves the wisdom and deep experience of our predecessors. This is part of what it means to be a true traditional astrologer as opposed to a modern astrologer using dribs and drabs of traditional technique on an unconsciously modern overall methodology.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Talisman Scores?

I wanted to talk a bit about essential dignity scoring of talismans. As you look at talismans on my website you can see that they have different point values. These come from adding up the essential dignity scores for the planet at the sign or degree it was at when the talisman was made. Sign = +5, exaltation +4, triplicity +3, term +2, face +1. It is possible to have multiple dignities and thus to get greater than +5. For example we have a new Mercury +10 talisman. Mercury is dignified by sign +5, exaltation +4 and face +1, for a total of +10.

It does sound very impressive to have this Mercury +10 because we have multiple essential dignities and it does indeed boost the strength a bit. However, just looking at the essential dignity score alone is too simplistic, particularly when I've had clients turn up their nose at talismans and say, "I won't take less than +10" The problem here is that for many planets it is impossible for them to have +10. The Sun, for example, we have trouble getting less than +7 and it's basically impossible to get more than +8. Refusing anything other than a +10 Sun talisman means no Sun talisman at all!

Secondly, the scale of the points doesn't reflect their effectiveness accurately. (face) +1 is very weak, almost not worth doing. (triplicity) +3 is actually pretty good. +4 (exaltation) is all you ever need in a talisman. +8 on the other hand, is stronger, but is not twice as good as +4.

This is because we are not charging batteries, what we are doing is trying to contact and keep a good relationship with the spirit of the talisman. The power of the talisman is more like the quality of a phone connection. +1 and you have a super staticky line you can't hardly hear the other person. By the time you get to +4, this is like a good cell connection, no problem for a conversation. +8 is like using a T3 line for a phone call, maybe even overkill.

So, while it is nice to say Wow! +10! and yes, it's good, exaltation (+4) is really all you need for an excellent talisman. It is nice to have the extra points, and worth the extra effort to make them and the cost, but refusing a talisman because it is JUST dignified by sign or exaltation, is like telling your friends you won't talk on a cell phone, you only use a T3 line!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Back from Japan Trip!

Wow! An exhausting, but very valuable 3 weeks in Japan.

I went to Tokyo, then Osaka, then, probably the highlight of the trip, Koyasan, then Osaka, Yokohama and Tokyo.

Koyasan is the headquarters of the Japanese tantric Buddhist, Shingon School. I stayed there at a shukubo, a temple lodging for pilgrims and did Shingon jukai, taking the Buddhist precepts and then the kechien kanjo tantric initiation.

Very intense experience, instead of a tourist, I got to be a pilgrim! The picture is of the Daito, the Great Stupa, at Koyasan.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Trip to Japan & Japanese Astral Magic

I wanted to let you know that from September 20 to October 20, 2013 I will be traveling to Japan!

I am going to be lecturing on traditional astrology and astrological magic, plus giving astrological magic ritual workshops. I also will be doing some Buddhist pilgrimage, including going to Koyasan, the headquarters of Shingon, a Japanese Tantric Buddhist sect for the kechien kanjo tantric initiation.

So in practical terms this means that I won't be doing much posting or blogging during this time period. We are going to keep taking orders, so if you want to get talismans, books or courses, you will still be able to do so during my trip, though the response time is likely to be delayed a bit.

I want to mention a little about how my ritual practice has been effected by Japanese & Buddhist ritual and practice. For the last 3 years I have been doing an intense Zen Buddhist practice, doing zazen, sitting meditation every day, with trips to an Iowa Zen monastery for intensive weekend meditation, called sesshin, about every other month.

One of the problems with Hermetic magic, like Picatrix, is that we have only the skeleton of the ritual practice. We have the prayers, suffumigations, spirit names and talisman materials and designs and not much else.

I've realized that if I am going to do astrology and magic, practical spiritual work, that I want to do it in the context of an overall spiritual path, in order to stay centered spiritually. There are many possible paths, Buddhism is certainly one.

You can see an example of how I've used basic Japanese ritual in my magical work here

I have found zazen, sitting meditation to be invaluable, but I also am very intrigued by tantric Buddhism which uses ritual directly. I've started what I call Western Tantric Buddhism, melding traditional astrological magic into Buddhism. What's very interesting is that astrological magic is already there! Japanese (&Chinese) Buddhism already use astrological ritual and magic as you can see here.

Here's an interesting lecture on Japanese astrological mandalas

So, I'm looking forward to my trip and learning more about Japanese astral ritual!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Correct?" Planetary Rulership

I had a very good question from a student about how to deal with differences in list of planetary rulerships.

What do you do when Agrippa says one thing Al-biruni another and Lilly a third thing about which planet rules something?

First, we are in the grip of the modern world view which wants to take a strictly formal logic view of everything. A=A, A is not B, therefore A = B is false. So we want to have strict categories and fit everything into the one "right" category. But reality is more complex than this. While hate is diametrically opposed to love, we have all had the experience of hating and loving someone at the same time. A is not B, but B = A!

This is the baggage we bring to the question of what planet rules a particular thing. But let's step back a bit and see what we are doing when we discuss planetary rulership. In fact all material things contain all 7 planets in varying amounts. "Also, amongst vegetables, every thing that bears fruit is from Jupiter, and every thing that bears flowers is from Venus; all seed and bark is from Mercury, and all roots from Saturn, and all wood from Mars, and leaves from the Moon." Agrippa Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk I ch 30.

So when we say that a particular thing is ruled by a planet, we are making a judgment about which quality or qualities we think predominate in the thing and then a further judgment about which planet is associated with that quality. Generally we would say that roses are ruled by Venus, because of their beauty and sweet smell, but if I get pricked I may suddenly focus on Mars who rules their thorns.

The key with planetary rulership attributions is not to determine the one "right" classification, but to get a sense of what quality the maker of the list was focused on and why. In a very real sense by learning about the things a planet rules, we are learning about the personality of the spirit of the planet, just as if I know a person likes coffee houses, jazz and wearing a beret, I'm learning about their personality.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fixed Stars Not on the List

I had a question recently about working with a fixed star that wasn't on the 15 fixed stars list. One of the reasons we work with the manuscript Hermes on the 15 Fixed Stars is that we have the fullest amount of information with them, including sigils, in various versions, descriptions of their images, plant and mineral rulerships and best of all, effects.

Of course, all the fixed stars, like all things in the Cosmos, have spirit/angel/daimons. If we knew how to approach them and what they were useful for, we could work with any fixed star or constellation, for that matter.

There might be a way to mechanically generate fixed star sigils, akin to the use of magic squares/planetary tables for planets. More to my personal preference is a more artistic and visionary process, similar to what Jason Miller and his collaborator used for their recent set of planetary sigils in "Advanced Planetary Magic" I like the idea of getting images and sigils directly from the spirits in dreams and visions. But we are going to have to wait for this sort of information until our contemporary visionaries make contact with these spirits.

In the meantime we can certainly use the image of a constellation for a constellation talisman, for Fomalhaut, "the mouth of the fish" a fixed star in the Pisces Australis, the Southern Fish we might use an image of a fish or even an actual picture of Fomalhaut, see Wikipedia on Fomalhaut. This approach, using the planets was followed in Israel Hibner's 1698 Mysterium Sigillorum, Herbarum and Lapidum, "The Mysteries of Sigils, Herbs and Stones." Available at Renaissance Astrology.

I look forward to seeing more visionary art and visionary communication with the spirits of the fixed stars and constellations!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Jason Miller's "Advanced Planetary Magic"

I just got a review copy of Jason Miller's Advanced Planetary Magic Thank you Jason!

Jason Miller is one of our best known modern mages.

I really like his approach of combining magic and practical, mundane strategies, particularly for wealth and prosperity.

What I am most excited about in Advanced Planetary Magic are the 7 planetary seals. They are simultaneously very contemporary and brand new, being newly generated and at the same time highly traditional, created by inspiration from the Anima Mundi! I am very inspired by these seals and looking forward to working with them.

Traditional astrological magic is a weird hybrid. Astrologers are passive users of the Great Chains of magical sympathy and correspondence, they sit back, watch the patterns unfold and predict. Magicians are active, they use their will and go out seeking to make change. An astrological magician, using traditional timing and ritual, has to wait until the Heavens indicate the time is right and then use their will.

Therefore both astrological timing and ritual are key for astrological magic. Increasing the potency of one can compensate for weaknesses in the other. So I can do a whomping great ritual and maybe get an ok result with a planet weak or afflicted, or I can do a small ritual, but with the planet very strong and get a decent result. Obviously a lot of powerful ritual at a time when a planet is highly dignified and well placed will give the maximum effect.

So my only reservation with Advanced Planetary Magic is that in my experience that planetary day and hour are not enough to fully time astrological talismans. I've made a Jupiter talisman with Jupiter day and hour, but Jupiter in detriment and retrograde and I immediately started losing money! I do think that doing lots and lots of ritual makes a big difference, but still you are fighting an uphill battle doing Jupiter invocations or magic anytime Jupiter is afflicted. Contrawise, doing a Jupiter ritual when Jupiter is highly dignified and well placed increasing the power tremendously.

Obviously this is inconvenient because then you can't do a Jupiter ritual when YOU need it, and in addition, how do you time your astrological magic when you aren't a traditional astrologer?

The inconvenience is just part of the nature of things, just as you cannot plant lettuce in December in Iowa (at least not yet!). The timing problem is likely not solvable until we get a larger number of qualified traditional astrologers. Modern astrology is useless for talismans!

One thing I do is post on my Facebook page the "Astrological Talisman Weather" I've been stating the current essential and major accidental dignities of the planets and I will start saying "great time for talisman" "ok for talisman" and "avoid talisman" for each planet.

All in all, I like Advanced Planetary Magic however, as a traditional astrological magician, I have to put in a plug for not just ignoring the astrological state of the planets beyond planetary day and hour.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Incense for Fixed Star Talisman Consecration

I had a question about what incense to use for suffumigating a fixed star talisman during consecration. Suffumigation means to move the talisman back and forth through the rising smoke of incense. This is a very important part of any talisman consecration. Take a look at my Consecrating Talismans Video.

There are lots of fixed stars, but we don't have much information on how to use them talismanically except for what appears in our traditional sources. One of the key sources circulated widely in the Middle Ages under the title, Hermes on the 15 Fixed Stars. This lists 15 stars, with some variation depending on the manuscript as far as which stars, and lists for each star what effects the talisman has, what image to put on the talisman, what gem or mineral and plant and herbs are ruled by the fixed star. Hermes on the 15 Fixed Stars was a key source for the Renaissance mage Cornelius Agrippa and his Three Books of Occult Philosophy. You can read Agrippa's fixed star rulerships

One of the reasons that we stick to Hermes on the 15 Fixed Stars is that we have extensive lists of what these stars rule, which allows us to determine appropriate materials for the talisman and for incense to use for suffumigating the talisman. For the fixed star Capella, for example, Agrippa says, "Horehound, Mint, Mugwort, and Mandrake" Hermes says "Horehound seed mixed with equal parts of mint, wormwood and mandrake" For Spica, Agrippa says, "Sage, Trifoile, Perwinkle, Mugwort, and Mandrake." Hermes says, "Sage juice with trefoil, periwinkle, wormwood and mandrake" You don't need to use all of these, so for Capella, mint or mugwort, either of which is quite easy to find, is excellent for suffumigation. Mugwort doubles up with Spica!

Now, of course, for resin incense and herbs, you need charcoal and an incense burner. Lit the charcoal and place the herb or plant on the burning charcoal. ALWAYS do a Google search to see if burning a plant, herb or resin is toxic, as some of the listed herbs, etc. are toxic.

Ok, next option is just to use stick incense. This is what I increasingly do, following Zen Buddhist rituals. The most important thing is to burn some kind of incense and at least one candle. Don't think, "well I can't get mandrake, so I will just give up and do nothing" Incense and candles are pretty key.

Now, I use a very tiny amount of incense as I don't like smoke. Some people can't handle any at all and have used essential oils. The jury is still out on this, probably better than nothing though and if you have a severe allergy, then I think the planets and stars will understand.

Here is More information on fixed star talismans and a Video on Consecrating Astrological Talismans.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Considerations Before Judgment?

I had a poster ask about the "Considerations Before Judgment" citing John Frawley's skepticism about them in his Horary Textbook and asking me what I thought about them.

The Considerations Before Judgment are listed in Lilly's Christian Astrology at pages 121-3. Some contemporary practitioners of traditional astrology have taken to refusing to judge charts if any of the considerations are present.

I agree 100% that the presence of the "considerations before judgment" do not mean that the chart is inaccurate. I have judged many, many charts with considerations and I find that far from making the chart unjudgeable that they provide very useful, albeit typically negative information.

This is similar to technical radicality, which Lilly mentions as the first type of consideration on page 121 of Christian Astrology. This is checking to see if the rising sign corresponds to the planetary hour. Again, I find that being technically radical is a plus, but lacking it does not mean that the chart is inaccurate. This is probably the most confusing part of my readings for clients, since they frequently ask about it. And I'm not being just being modern, here. Nicholas Culpepper in his Opus Astrologicum, Aphorism 21, cites technical radicality and then comments, "I have found many Questions to be true where this [technical radicality] is not so."

Ok, so I go even further than Frawley and the only thing that stops me from judging a chart is 0 degrees rising. This is what I tell clients who get 0 degrees rising on a horary chart,

"Ok, we got 0 degrees rising. This has two possible meanings.

(1) 0 degrees rising means you are not asking the root question. What do I mean by root question? I had a client ask, "Should I move to Austin?" We got 0 degrees rising. I asked, "Is this the root question?" They answered, "Oh, should we even move from Ann Arbor?" The answer was no. Second example, the client asked, "Should I get the surgery with Dr X?" 0 degrees rising, again I asked "Is this the root question?" they asked, "Oh, should I even get the surgery?" Answer, no.

(2) 0 degrees rising means the situation has not jelled yet.

So consider whether you are asking the root question. If not, ask the root question. If you think you are, then wait a bit and ask the question again."

What is really uncanny about 0 degrees rising charts is that the chart/situation really starts talking to you, you almost get a dialogue going! I once had a client who got 0 degrees twice in a row, the chart was emphatic that they weren't asking the right question!

I'm not sure I would describe the considerations as "tricks". We moderns tend to automatically reject anything we don't immediately understand. We have a very rigid view of how things work and if something doesn't fit, out with it! Also we tend to be very skeptical of the past. This is not how traditional thinkers operated. They respected the tradition and were willing to accept many possible outlooks simultaneously. Rather than rejecting past technique, they would typically mention it and then say, "but I don't personally follow this".

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Traditional Astrology"?

After 15 years of using the term "traditional astrology" as a label for the astrology practiced in Europe between 1200 and 1700 without incident, all of a sudden this definition is WRONG!

Everyone must now get in line with the new orthodoxy, which is since "traditional" is good, then all astrology (with the possible exception of modern, at least for now) is now "traditional". After all if there is a tradition of astrology, then certainly Hellenistic astrology must be part of that tradition, therefore it is "traditional" too.

Let me first say that, thank goodness, for the most part we live in societies where we are all free to use whatever astrological terminology we wish. I have no problem with astrologers setting up their own web sites, discussion groups, blog, Facebook pages, etc., and changing around whatever definitions or terms they wish. What I object to is being deprived of freedom of speech on my own website, discussion group, blog and Facebook page. I've been told, in effect, that I am wrong and that I have an obligation to change how I speak, act, write and teach.

So what's going on here? My main goal in using the term "traditional astrology" is to try and have an accurate label and all be on the same page when discussing different types of astrology. Astrology in the West does basically divide itself chronologically and in terms of technique and philosophy into several internally coherent and consistent systems.

Astrology appears to have originated in Babylon and Chaldea circa 400-200 BC and diffused to the Graeco-Roman world. Graeco-Roman astrology circa 200 BC to AD 400 is generally referred to as Hellenistic astrology. Astrology was practiced in the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, and then diffused to the Islamic civilization of the Middle Ages, there circa 800-1000 AD a new type of astrology, a new synthesis of Western Hellenistic and Persian astrology with Syriac and Indian astrology, was created. This Arabic astrology was the basis of European astrology in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The difference is mostly one of simplification as astrology moved forward in time.

So "traditional astrology" is the term I use for European astrology of the Middle Ages and Renaissance or European astrology as practiced between circa 1200 and 1700 AD. Clearly one could move a bit earlier or later, one can always argue over specific boundaries. Nevertheless medieval and Renaissance European astrology is a unified and coherent school and system. Traditional astrology as a term is much less of a mouthful than "European astrology of the Middle Ages and Renaissance" or "European astrology as practiced between circa 1200 and 1700 AD"

Astrology then essentially died out in Europe circa 1700, due to the "Enlightenment" and the rise of atheistic/materialist views of reality. When astrology was revived in the late 19th century, it had lost much of its technique and ability to predict. The fusion of Jungian psychology and New Age thinking gave rise to modern astrology, predominately concerned with psychology and almost entirely focused on natal astrology.

So, basically what we have are 3 general areas of Western astrology, that is Hellenistic, Traditional and Modern astrology. These areas are quite distinct from each other and use very different techniques and methodologies, though of course they have a family resemblance. When I first started practicing traditional astrology, 15 years ago, different astrologers used different terms for it. Zoller, since he focused on Bonatti, said he was a "medieval" astrologer. My main horary teacher Lee Lehman used the term "classical" astrology, though I felt this was confusing because classical usually meant Graeco-Roman and thus there was confusion with Hellenistic astrology. My original horary teacher Carol Wiggers used the term "traditional" astrology. This made sense to me.

However, the other major astrologer, John Frawley, using the term "traditional" astrology had a different twist on it. Frawley speaks of "the Tradition" and this concept is clearly very important to him. See his Tradition article. I'm still not entirely sure what he means by it and this is not what I am talking about when I say "traditional astrology", for me it is just a synonym for medieval and Renaissance European astrology.

Next, the term "traditional astrology" has developed some cachet, some prestige. I think this is due to the efforts of many astrologers, Frawley, certainly, perhaps myself, but more to the fact that traditional astrology is unsurpassed in its predictive power and accuracy and unusual in that there are significant numbers of astrologers who don't mix and match, but practice only traditional astrology.

When we look at what astrologers actually do in their practice and what methods and philosophy they espouse, in my opinion, there really are only 2 kinds of astrologers, traditional and modern. Modern astrology is built on a buffet style, grab bag approach. All other types of astrology are just giant bone heaps that can be mined for little nuggets of technique. The modern astrologer assembles their own personal bricolage of methodology and creates their own personal synthesis. Nothing wrong with that, if one is an astrological genius on the level of Abu Mashar or Mashallah. I know I'm not, so I prefer to stand on the shoulders of giants, our illustrious predecessors, another reason I am a traditional astrologer.

So with this in mind, my view is that there are no actual Hellenistic astrologers, because no one actually practices with all of their technique being Hellenistic. Many so called Hellenistic astrologers are simply modern astrologers with a higher percentage of Hellenistic technique than is normal, with modern and traditional methods also mixed in. Same with Mayan, Celtic, etc., etc. Basically these terms become the equivalent of a designer label, purely for prestige, without accurately describing the contents. This is what the new orthodoxy wants to do with the term "traditional" get the prestige, but make the term meaningless as an accurate label of technique. Traditional is now supposed to mean everything other than modern and no doubt the moderns will argue that they are traditional, too, if the term gets any more cachet.

I was a traditional astrologer when that term was meaningless to most astrologers (it still is actually) or when it was a red flag to various modern astrologer bulls. That it has picked up some prestige is nice, but that's not why I use the term, I use it because it seems to me to be a useful way to label a particular school of astrology. I will continue to use the term "traditional astrology" as I have for the past 15 years.

Others are free to disagree, everybody can think whatever they wish on their own time and in their own space. But that means I get the same freedom not to be hassled, pressured or harassed on my discussion group, blog, etc. Let's grant each other the right to disagree and respect that right. Once everyone has made their opinions clear, refusing to stop arguing, continue to put pressure on those that disagree with one's position is profoundly selfish and disrespectful.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Archeology of the Term Hermetic & Hermetic Reading List

I had a question recently asking me what I meant when I said I practiced "Hermetic" magic?

Well, let's look at the dictionary definition, "(1) made airtight by fusion or sealing.; (2) not affected by outward influence or power; isolated; (3) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of occult science, especially alchemy; (4) of or pertaining to Hermes Trismegistus or the writings ascribed to him. Origin: 1630–40; Medieval Latin hermeticus of, pertaining to Hermes Trismegistus, equivalent to Latin Herme"

Ok, this actually lays things out really well! As we move from definition (1) up to definition (4) we go back in time from more contemporary definitions back to the original and all the definitions fit nicely together. So the original definition of Hermetic, which is what I mean when I say I practice Hermetic magic, means following the teaching attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, which are the philosophical Hermetica, in particular the Corpus Hermeticum as well as the technical Hermetica, which are practical texts of the Hermetic arts of alchemy, astrology and magic. The earliest written versions that we have of these teachings are circa 1st century AD, but likely are older.

Then as we go a bit further forward in time, to definition (3), hermetic has come to mean occult sciences in general, and specifically alchemy. This is the sense in which the 19th century Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn uses the term hermetic. Similarly, we can understand definition (2) how hermetic could come to be isolated, as the word occult means hidden. Finally, definition (1) the current usage, a hermetic or airtight seal, which comes from practical laboratory alchemy.

Very interesting! We have a complete archeology of the term hermetic. By following the etymology of the word, we can understand it more completely.

Now, of course, I use the oldest, most traditional definition, no surprise there! When I say I practice Hermetic magic, I don't mean I use airtight seals or that I am doing occult magic, I mean that I actually follow the Corpus Hermeticum and practical Hermetica, particularly as those sources were known and explained in Picatrix and by Renaissance mages like Cornelius Agrippa and Marcilio Ficino. Well, that and putting this magical practice within a Buddhist context! Here's an example of my Hermetic Zen Ritual

As a good general intro here is my Hermes Trismegistus page

I also have two Youtube videos on Hermeticism:

a History of Hermeticism

and Hermetic Gnosis

Here is a a reading list of authentic Hermetica:

I recommend Hermetica: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum translated by Brian Copenhaver

I can also recommend two good secondary sources on Hermeticism:

the Egyptian Hermes by Garth Fowden

and the Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus by Florian Ebeling

We should also keep in mind that reading and just reading books makes one a dabbler and dilettante in Hermeticism or almost any other practical subject.

Alchemy, astrology and magic are the three Hermetic arts and by actually learning AND practicing traditional astrology and astrological magic, you are preparing yourself for the true Hermetic spiritual path. If you are serious about learning Hermeticism take one of my full courses in particular the full Astrological Magic Course

This includes a free copy of the most important book of Hermetic astrological magic, the Picatrix

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Riffing within the Tradition

I got a very good question the other day about horary and in particular Lilly's famous Christian Astrology, from a student of mine and member of my discusssion group, Spiritus Mundi, Kiel Price.

Kiel asked, "Just a quick question, perhaps I'm missing something here. Page 305 of Christian Astrology says "The Lord of the Ascendant in the seventh, the Querent loveth best;". Yet page 317 of Christian Astrology seems to say the exact opposite. "...when the Lord of the Ascendant was in the seventh, the quesited loved best." If you could shed some light on this that would be great."

Ok, very good question! Let's back up a bit here. First, we are talking about marriage and relationship horaries here. These are pretty key for any practicing horary astrologer since I'd estimate about 75% of my horary clients are asking about relationships. Next, we are discussing emplacement. Lilly explains emplacement as follows:

"Lastly, things are sometimes perfected by the dwelling of Planets in houses, viz. when the Significator of the thing demanded is casually posited in the Ascendant; as if one demand if he shall obtain such a Place or Dignity, if then the Lord of the tenth be placed in the Ascendant, he shall obtain the Benefit, Office, Place or Honour desired:"

Christian Astrology page 126.

Basically emplacement is a way of connecting significators or in this case a significator with the affairs of a house. If the significator of the querent or quesited is in a particular house it indicates a connection between the two.

Ok, so now when we are talking about a relationship, what does it mean when the significator of the querent is in the 7th house, the house of the quesited, the person the querent is asking if they will have a relationship with. Lilly at page 305 says that if the significator of the querent is in the 7th then the querent is more interested and wants the relationship more than the quesited. Conversely, Lilly at 305 says that if the significator of the quesited is in the Ascendant, the house of the querent, that the quesited wants the relationship more. Lilly goes on to say, and this is very interesting, that if the lord of the 7th, ie the significator of the quesited, is in the 7th, that this indicates that the quesited "is free from love, has little mind to Marriage..." ie is not interested in a relationship with the querent.

So it is rather perplexing that at page 317 Lilly says the exact opposite, ie, lord of the 7th in the Ascendant, the QUERENT wants the relationship the most and vice versa. However, the mystery is dispelled by the immediately previous phrase, "Contrary to all the rules of the Ancients, I (!!!!) have ever found..." and then Lilly states his backwards rule.

Very interesting! This gives us a very useful insight into how a traditional astrologer saw his sources and how they fit into the tradition. Much of Christian Astrology is taken right out of earlier traditional sources, in particular Guido Bonatti's Book of Astronomy. In fact, many of Lilly's marriage rules are word for word from Bonatti. Traditional astrologers, just like traditional scholars in general did not consider this plagiarism because they were less concerned with originality. They saw themselves as part of a long lineage and had no problem using ancient sources. Lilly is firmly within traditional astrology, but is not afraid to say, in particular circumstances, that he doesn't follow individual "ancient rules"

Now, my almost invariable tendency when Lilly does this and innovates is to stick with the older methods. In this case, I use the page 305 method, such that significator of the querent in the 7th, the querent wants the relationship more, etc. It is the older method, it makes more sense to me and most importantly in my wide experience as a professional horary astrologer, it works! Similarly with Lilly's use of the modified essential dignity system, I go with the older Dorothean triplicities, etc., etc.

Now I am not saying that Lilly was a bad astrologer, or that he was wrong to innovate. It certainly seems to have worked for him. None of these innovations were so radical as to take him outside traditional astrology unlike having the modern planets rule signs or making the 8th house the house of sex. Also Lilly's innovations are based on very wide experience, Lilly saw huge numbers of clients, in a two year period, for example, 1654-6, he saw over 4,000! Most importantly Lilly's basic philosophy was traditional, he was not a modern atheistic/materialist though those influences were growing during this period.

This wide experience and philosophical orientation are key, but ultimately staying within the tradition is the only way that one can claim the illustrious title of traditional astrologer. Even so, it is very important to be straightforward about what the basis for one's methods are. You should be able to quote a pre-1700 source or be honest about innovating. Nothing wrong with innovation so long as it is acknowledged.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Let's Get Traditional With Reception

A series of unfortunate events made the very useful technique of reception very confusing. First I really regret that the 17th century astrologers messed with it and tried to limit it to mutual reception, then some contemporary traditional astrologers further muddied the waters.

Let's start with the traditional definition from Bonatti, the classic medieval source,

"And it is said if a 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 the lord the [term] or triplicity or face, either bodily or by aspect [they are in reception] However, this is true [only] if it is joined with the lord of the [sign] or exaltation, or with the lord of two of the lesser dignities, to wit with [a planet which is] the lord of the [term] and triplicity, or with lord of the [term] and face, or with the lord of the face and triplicity..."

Liber Astronomiae, Tr. III ch 13 (the corresponding passage can be found in the Dykes trans at 223)

In other words, you need two planets and (1) they are making an applying aspect and (2) at least one planet is in the other's sign or exaltation, or in the others triplicity plus term, triplicity plus face or face plus term.

Even though Lilly only defines reception in terms of mutual reception, ie two planets, both in each other's sign or exaltation, he actually uses the older definition in examples in Christian Astrology. I much prefer the term "generosity" which Ibn Ezra uses for two planets each being in each other's sign or exaltation without needing an aspect. Beginning of Wisdom, Epstein trans page 125.

Then to make things even more confusing some contemporary traditional astrologers starting saying that planets in mutual reception switched signs or places or something, what? I never understood what this was about and it is not supported by actual traditional sources.

So with regard to reception we have a big mess! Actually it is pretty straightforward. If you have two planets making an applying aspect and at least one is in the sign or exaltation or two minor dignities of the other, it makes the aspect go much more easily. A square with reception means problems that can be worked through, for example, and a trine with reception means smooth as silk! See Bonatti, Liber Astronomiae, Tr 6 Horary ch 2 Dykes trans page 362-4 for examples of this. If you don't have a copy of Bonatti's Horary Section of LA GET ONE! Here it is as an Amazon paperback Dykes has even put this out as an e-book.

They don't switch places, they don't increase in essential dignity, the interaction between them just goes so much more easily. For example, if Mercury is the ruler of the 7th applying to Jupiter, ruler of the 1st and Mercury is in Cancer and Jupiter in Aries, they are making a square with reception since Mercury is in the exaltation of Jupiter. However, Mercury is still peregrine and Jupiter, if this is a night chart, just dignified by triplicity, as the night ruler of fire signs. They aren't increased in essential dignity by reception, thus they aren't any stronger, but that argument they are about to have, maybe they can work through it.

Reception is a good example of where I part ways, even with Lilly, when that "modernizing" impulse kicks in. This was a problem even in the 17th century!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fantasy versus Real Electional Astrology

I had question about how to do a house sale election since currently all planets are peregrine or afflicted.

Ok, here is where we get to real electional versus fantasy electional.

What's fantasy electional? When you stand back and lob shots at someone else's election, easy since NO ELECTION IS PERFECT! What's real electional? Having a real situation or real client that needs an election.

A client, or this personal situation, can't wait 50 years until everything aligns perfectly. In fact you generally not only have a specified date range, but also only certain days (eg Monday - Friday) and certain times of day (9 am - 5pm) are available. So we are going to have to tolerate some problems in the chart.

In this case, I know what you mean about peregrine planets. It's like making bricks without straw to have planets without essential dignity.

A Tip: Think about the Moon! She's fast moving, she's going to be exalted in Taurus or dignified by sign in Cancer twice a month. Can that be worked with? yes, no, maybe, see what's up.

Ok, so you've got nothing but peregrine planets, well in a pinch you can work with them. After all, while fantasy elections are about obtaining perfection or at least whining when it's not present, real elections are about at a minimum, avoiding the really #@$%! times. This is definitely worthwhile even if you can't get a great time.

1st house - 7th house elections, ie wedding, and sales in this case the 7th is the house of the buyer, are tough because the only possible planetary combinations are Moon-Saturn, Sun-Saturn, Mercury-Jupiter and Venus-Mars.

I think if you can't get the planets stronger than peregrine, then at least try to get a nice applying positive aspect of the 1st and 7th ruler.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Book Recommendation: Bonatti "On Horary"

Here's another of my semi-regular traditional astrology book recommendations,
Guido Bonatti's "On Horary"

The 13th century Italian astrologer Guido Bonatti wrote one of the most important books of traditional astrology, the Liber Astronomiae literally the Book of Astronomy. This was the standard reference text for medieval and Renaissance (i.e. traditional) astrologers. The famous English 17th century astrologer William Lilly quotes almost directly from Bonatti in his famous Christian Astrology and Bonatti keeps popping up in almost all English traditional astrology texts.

Originally written in Latin, finally this magisterial text of traditional astrology is available in English. Ben Dykes, the translator, has both a strong academic background (Ph.d in Philosophy) and is a practicing natal astrologer and graduate of Robert Zoller's excellent medieval natal astrology course. Dykes has done an excellent job of translating and commenting on the Liber Astronomiae.

While the complete Liber Astronomiae contains an introduction to the basics of astrology, plus horary, electional, natal and mundane treatises, it often circulated in the Middle Ages and Renaissance in smaller subject sections. This is Bonatt's horary section. Definitely well worth getting for all students of horary astrology! Bonatti gives an excellent introduction to horary astrology which uses the time of a question, rather than the time of a birth chart. Bonatti then gives very detailed instructions for determining questions for each of the 12 houses.

All traditional horary astrologers need a copy of both Lilly's Christian Astrology and Bonatti's Liber Astronomiae. With the complete hardcover edition out of print, I am glad the paperback edition of Bonatti "On Horary" is so easily available! You can order Guido Bonatti's "On Horary" on Amazon.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Fixed Stars: Heliacal Rising vs. Ecliptic Mapping

After the recent Cetus talisman election I had an interesting e-mail asking me if it wouldn't be better to use the "actual" rising of the star on the physical horizon for fixed star talisman elections. Let's call this physical rising.

Physical rising, therefore requires different software than is used for standard astrological charts. All standard astrological charts, traditional and modern are a 2 dimensional representation of the 3 dimensional sphere of the Heavens, primarily mapped along the Ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun against the fixed stars. The Ecliptic is the path of the Sun and planets through the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Since stars are distributed throughout the whole sphere of the Heavens and not just on the Ecliptic/Zodiac you'd need special astronomical software that could tell you when, at your location, the star rose above the horizon.

The physical rising is related to a very old astronomical/astrological phenomenon, the heliacal rising. Ok, what's heliacal rising? Check out Wikipedia and Skyscript

Basically this is a solar cycle and thus seasonal. The Sun orbits through the Ecliptic and conjoins the star, then once the Sun moves far enough away from the star, you can finally see it rising in the morning. So basically heliacal rising is a particular type of physical rising.

Heliacal rising was certain used as an astronomical omen and for calendrical purposes, for example the ancient Egyptians used the heliacal rising of Sirius to time the Nile's annual flooding. However, this is not how traditional astrologers used fixed stars. Instead they mapped the fixed stars to the Ecliptic. If the star is close to the Ecliptic, then its position doesn't change much relative to its position in the sphere of the Heavens. The farther away it is from the Ecliptic, however, the more its relative position changes when mapped to the Ecliptic. However, as the relative position of the star changed due to precession of the Equinoxes, approximately 1 degree every 72 years, traditional astrologers would adjust the Zodiacal longitude of the star's position.

Ok, so now we can get a better idea of what we are talking about. Certainly looking at the heliacal rising of a star is something that has a long history, but it is not the standard way that fixed stars were used in traditional astrology. The physical rising, without heliacal rising, wasn't used by traditional astrologer either. Instead traditional astrologers mapped the fixed star to a point in the Zodiac/Ecliptic and then used that location in the Zodiac as the location of the star. For example for fixed star talismans, Agrippa says, "When any star ascends fortunately, with the fortunate aspect or conjunction of the Moon, We must take a stone, and herb that is under that star, and make a ring of that metal that is suitable to this star and fasten the stone, putting the herb, or root under it; Not omitting the inscriptions of images, names and characters, also the proper suffumigations..." Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Bk. I, Chapter 47.

Now, you could certainly make talismans at the heliacal or physical rising of a star, but this would not be traditional astrology. The natural response for the modern is "wouldn't it BETTER to use the ACTUAL PHYSICAL rising of the star?" I've all capped two different segments of the response so I can deal with them separately. First, the modern automatically assumes that what is material and observable is the most significant. This is basically the same atheistic/materialist view that pushes for the constellational Zodiac. The unconscious assumption is that astrology works through some sort of material or energetic cause, ie magnetism, gravity, super strings, etc., because that's all the possible causes that there are. We therefore look to the material world, "actual reality" as our highest test for truth and the nature of things. The problem here is that there is no material or energetic cause for astrology, and therefore if that's the only possible cause, then astrology is impossible. Certainly most scientists would agree with that. So it doesn't make much sense to be an astrologer who operates on the automatic assumption that physical/energetic causality is paramount.

When the traditional astrology maps fixed stars to the Zodiac, they use the fixed stars as sensitive points along the Zodiac. They discover an additional and useful patterning. The scientist might say that this patterning is arbitrary, just as astronomers may claim that constellations are arbitrary since their patterning is only apparent from Earth. But again, this is a modern view, seeing patterning as either caused by physical laws/causality or simply an arbitrary imposition by humans.

Traditional astrology is based on a Neo-Platonic/Hermetic worldview that included the spiritual, that saw the spiritual as underlying the material and as the ultimate cause. Patterning was not arbitrary but an example of the spiritual connection of all things. See Spiritual Hermeticism.

Ok, second point, can we describe one method as "better" than another? The modern view again is that there is an objective reality out there, separate from the observer, that can be accurately determined and is true for all. This dovetails nicely with the egoic desire to be right and to assert the superiority of MY view. Clearly what I see, feel and believe is correct or I would not be seeing, feeling or believing it. Furthermore, what I personally see, feel and believe is right for me, is therefore right for everyone. Put that way, it does seem rather pompous, but it's how our ego unconsciously pushes us 24/7. The obverse is the wishy-washy, co-dependent, total relativist. "Whatever you think is true is true for you"

Is it possible to chart a third course? My sense is that there are many possible worldviews, thus many possible realities. Some work well, some not so well. This is from The Magician's Companion by Bill Whitcomb, page 12,

I Law of Worldviews:

"The world we perceive is actually a mixture of the nominal world (the Tao, the objective reality that is unknowable but which underlies all that we think we know) and ourselves (the subjective). Changing your worldview does not change the eternal, real world, but it does change the world you perceive. That is, changing your worldview makes real changes in the world which is real to us. (see VII: Law of Reflections) Because there are an infinite number of ways to perceive the world, there are also an infinite number of worlds we may assemble without awareness. The true underlying reality is unknowable to us as long as we retain our worldview of separateness and self. You can become one with the universe but you cannot step back and observe it, because you are in it. You cannot observe a phenomenon without altering it by your mode of perception. There is no such thing as an independent observer. You participate in creating the world by perceiving it."

If your worldview is massively out of touch with the Tao, this is quite problematic, you are going to be confused, often surprised and unsuccessful, much of the time. But there are many "paths with heart" as Carlos Castaneda puts it. The key is finding one that fits you.

So I'm not going to say that the traditional astrological method of using fixed stars is the only way to fly, it certainly worked for our illustrious predecessors and it works well for me.