Saturday, December 20, 2014

Astrology, Prophecy and Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Using USNO Website for Fixed Star Elections!

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Moon and Intuition: Key for Astrological Prediction?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Procyon Consecration Election & USNO Page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Easy! Thanks USNO!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Traditional and Modern Astrologers: Never the twain shall meet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 13, 2014

Astrological Magic without Astrology?

Astrology, alchemy and magic are called the Hermetic Arts because they are under the patronage of Hermes Trismegistus, the Thrice Great Hermes.

Hermes Trismegistus is a liminal figure, literally threshold, but also relating to doors, boundaries and gates. To be truly Hermetic is to embrace paradox, to be both fish and fowl simultaneously and to love having your cake and eating it too.

This makes astrological magic particularly Hermetic, since astrologers and magicians mix like oil and water. Astrologers, as a general rule, are loath to do magic, they prefer to sit back and passively observe the Heavens. While modern astrologers don't tend to like the idea of Fate, as astrologers they are, in fact, the votaries of Fate, watching it unfold in the celestial cycles. Magicians, on the other hand, tend towards the exercise of will, seeing themselves as acting and acting independently. Whether or not this is actually Free Will depends on the person and how you define it, but the stereotypes of the active magician and passive astrologer have some merit.

Astrological magic, therefore, combines these two arts. The astrological magician must act, but only at a time that is astrologically propitious.

Getting astrologers to act and do magic is very difficult, for various reasons it seems to go against their grain. Magicians, on the other hand, don't seem to like the idea that they are not in control, that they have to wait to express their will. Also from a practical standpoint, learning traditional astrology is difficult.

A basic resistance to any timing and the practical difficulties of learning traditional astrology means typically when the normal magician does planetary magic, they use very little astrological timing, generally not much more than planetary days and hours. This itself is very traditional, the Greater Key of Solomon, a very popular Solomonic grimoire, is pretty much limited to planetary day and hour, with the occasional Moon phase or planet in sign.

There are three different factors that give power to astrological talismans: the materials and design of the talisman, the consecration ritual and the astrological timing. So, if you make a Jupiter talisman, for example, with a great whomping ritual and appropriate materials, you can still get results from it, even if the timing isn't right. Of course, you're going to get better results if you have proper design and materials, ritual AND astrological timing.

Personally, I get nervous about astrological magic that's not astrologically timed. For example, early on I made a Jupiter talisman, Jupiter day and hour, but Jupiter in detriment and retrograde. I started immediately losing large amounts of money until I deconsecrated it.

As Picatrix says and this is applicable to any serious affliction of any planet, "If [Saturn] is retrograde and you ask him for something, what you seek will come about with delays and miseries and great labor." Bk II ch 7.

I don't want to be dogmatic about this and imply some sort of minefield effect where you blow up if you make a single mistake. So, I don't make talismans with a planet afflicted and this includes being retrograde, because this freezes the conditions permanently. On the other hand, I do planetary invocations daily, regardless of the planet's condition. That seems odd, but then I have been doing these continuously every day for over 10 years. I think the continuous repetition makes up for the occasional negative conditions. Similarly, once a planetary talisman is made, it seems to be ok to re-consecrate on planetary hour even if other conditions are problematic, since the talisman is already made.

The key point here is that astrological conditions do matter for astrological talismans. There's some flexibility here, but it really is a mistake to ignore astrology when working with the planets, stars, etc. Align yourself with the celestial cycles and the power of your magic will increase tremendously, to ignore them, or worse to fight them is to fight the tide, "Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. But omitted, and the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and miseries" -- William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Act IV Scene 3.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

USNO page for Astrological Magic: Part 2, Fixed Star Elections

Ok, in the previous post on the USNO page, I discussed how to use the page for planetary talismans using the rising or transiting/culminating time as determined by those friendly folks at the Naval Observatory. (I used to walk by the Observatory when I lived in DC, this is where the Vice President lives.)

So, this time we are going to use the USNO page to do a fixed star election. Let's go to the USNO rising, etc page Now to make a fixed star talisman you would like to have the Moon applying to conjoin (this is best) or applying to sextile or trine the star plus the right Moon phase, plus the Moon and star unafflicted. The USNO page won't do all this.

However, for a fixed star re-consecration, once the talisman is made, having the star rising or culminating/transiting, is fine. It's good to reconsecrate every six months or so, though you can do it more frequently if you want. Note, that when you get a fixed star talisman from Renaissance Astrology you get one free consecration election. After that you need to either do the election yourself, or order an election from me.

Again, for a US location use the top section, for a non-US location use the lower section. Just google the longitude and latitude for a non-US location, and google the elevation in meters for all locations.

Now choose the "Celestial Object of Interest" The USNO page actually lists a number of key fixed stars for astrological magic including Spica, Regulus, Aldebaran, Antares, Capella, Procyon and Vega.

So for my location Iowa City IA, elevation 203 meters on April 22, 2014 Spica culminated/transited at 00:31, that is 12:31 am and then rose at 19:0, ie 7:06 pm.

So start your consecration 15 minutes or so before the set time and end 15 minutes or so after the set time. Voila!

Ok, that's very cool for the listed stars. One that is not listed, but often needed is Algol. What I realized was that if we used Aldebaran, which is not far from Algol in the Zodiac, and had Aldebaran culminating/transiting, then subtracted an hour, we could get the Algol time.

So, for my for my location Iowa City IA, elevation 203 meters on April 22, 2014 Aldebaran culminated/transited at 15:40, that's 3:40 pm, so subtract an hour, that's 2:40 pm. and yes, 2:40 pm is when Algol culminates/transits. Start your Algol consecration at 2:25 pm and end at 2:55pm.

Thanks USNO!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

USNO page for Astrological Magic: Part 1

While there is some good astrological chart drawing software online, for example Astrodient use "chart drawing Ascendant" you need a good deal of training to use full chart software for astrological magic.

For planetary talismans, my PMP, planetary magic program, is an excellent shortcut for planetary elections. It's not 100% as good as using full chart software, but great if you don't understand how to do talismanic elections.

Similarly Decanichron is great software for decan/face talisman elections, that like PMP for planetary talismans, basically automates the whole process.

Ok, Mansion Tracker is software that tells you when the Moon is in a particular Mansion. It doesn't tell you if the Moon is afflicted and doesn't tell you if the Moon is rising or culminating.

Then finally fixed star elections. Unfortunately my software designer was working on a fixed star election program, but then had a serious family illness to deal with.

But I just discovered a great resource! They probably weren't expecting that it would be used for astrology, but the US Naval Observatory website has a great page online software page for the rising, transiting and setting of celestial bodies.

So, what they call rising is also astrological rising,ie conjunct the Ascendant or 1st house cusp, transiting is astrological culminating or conjunct the Midheaven or 10th house cusp and setting we don't tend to use, but it would be conjunct the Descendant or 7th house cusp.

There are two sections, a US section which automatically finds the longitude and latitude of your location and the non-US section where you enter your longitude and latitude. That's easy, Google it! You also need the elevation of your location in meters, again easy, Google it! Pick what celestial object you want to track. Set the date and date range, then click "compute data" You get a page with the rise, transit and set times.

Now this has lots of uses. For the planets, just couple the rising or transit/culminating time with looking at the planets' sign and planetary hour and you are well on the way to getting a good election!

Here are signs ruled by and exaltations of planets:

Saturn rules Capricorn, Aquarius, exalted Libra
Jupiter rules Sagittarius, Pisces, exalted Cancer
Mars rules Aries, Scorpio, exalted Capricorn
Sun rules Leo, exalted Aries
Venus rules Taurus, Libra, exalted Pisces
Mercury rules Gemini, Virgo, exalted Virgo
Moon rules Cancer, exalted Taurus

Ok, so let's try it out! Here's a website showing the signs that planets are currently in

Sun is currently in Aries. Let's try Sun for a week on the USNO page

I have listed just the rising and transit/culminating times. We don't need the other info on the page

2014 Apr 08 (Tue) 06:37 13:08
2014 Apr 09 (Wed) 06:36 13:08
2014 Apr 10 (Thu) 06:34 13:07
2014 Apr 11 (Fri) 06:33 13:07
2014 Apr 12 (Sat) 06:31 13:07
2014 Apr 13 (Sun) 06:29 13:07
2014 Apr 14 (Mon) 06:28 13:06

Ok, then using TPHP, my planetary hours software I looked at the planetary hours for those times.

2014 Apr 08 (Tue) 06:37 Mars 13:08 Jupiter
2014 Apr 09 (Wed) 06:36 Mercury 13:08 Venus
2014 Apr 10 (Thu) 06:34 Jupiter 13:07 Saturn
2014 Apr 11 (Fri) 06:33 Venus 13:07 Sun
2014 Apr 12 (Sat) 06:31 Saturn 13:07 Moon
2014 Apr 13 (Sun) 06:29 Sun 13:07 Mars
2014 Apr 14 (Mon) 06:28 Moon 13:06 Mercury

Ok, interesting thing about the Sun is that it is our timekeeper, so planetary days all begin at Sunrise and the first hour is the planet ruling the day, so Tuesday (Mars day) begins with Mars hour. Then Sun transits/culminates and is directly overhead at local noon, but with time zones this is different from clock time. This is one of the 24 planetary hour starts of the day.

So you could do a Sun Aries rising talisman on Sunday April 13, 2014 at my location at 6:29 am or you could do a Sun Aries culminating talisman on Friday April 11, 2014 at 13:07, ie 1:07 pm.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On a Spiritual Path: Venus Rising Talisman

I am very pleased to present a new current chart, the Venus rising in the 1st degree of Pisces talisman.

This can be a tough talisman to elect for, since Venus needs to be in the 1st degree of Pisces, (that's 0 Pisces 1 to 0 Pisces 59, not 1 Pisces!) and rising. We haven't been able to do this for several years so I am excited about this opportunity to make a rare talisman.

This talisman comes from Cornelius Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy,

"From the operations of Venus they made an Image, which was available for favor, and benevolence, at the very hour it ascending into Pisces, the form of which was the Image of a woman having the head of a bird, and feet of an Eagle, holding a dart in her hand. "

Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk II ch 42.

This Agrippa image is based on several different images from Picatrix,

"Image of Venus. If, under the influence of Venus, you make the image of a woman whose body is human with the head of a bird and the feet of an eagle, in her right hand an apple and in her left hand a wooden comb....everyone who carries this image...with them will receive good and be liked by everyone."

"If, under the influence of Venus, you make the form of a woman, holding an apple in her right hand and a comb in her left hand, in white stone, the first face of Libra ascending, whoever has or carries the above image will always laugh and be cheerful."

Picatrix, Bk II ch 10.

This is very interesting! Note that Agrippa switches Venus' sign Libra for her exaltation, Pisces and combines the two images, showing flexibility and not following slavishly, but not departing entirely from his traditional source, Picatrix. He's not just making it all up and not trying to use a Saturn image for Venus, but on the other hand he's not FREAKING OUT that image doesn't follow Picatrix TO THE LETTER! We can see a master astrological magician in action here, innovating, but fully within the tradition in that innovation.

So, now the most important point, why would you want to make this talisman? Venus is the planet of love, friendship, arts, music and pleasure, so if you want these things, Venus is your planet. This particular talisman is for favor and benevolence, which I read as improving your social skills and getting along better with people, having people like you more and more.

And this is fine, if you are focused on what you want and how you can benefit from this and other talismans. We do need to enhance our lives and our ego selves. But it is possible to use astrological magic as part of our spiritual path as well. But how?

I do a daily invocation of the planet that rules the day and have done so "religiously" for almost a decade. The invocations are adapted from Picatrix see my Secrets of Planetary Ritual Paperback and Kindle versions. so these invocations do involve petitions, ie they often ask for things, but generally these are things like health, prosperity, safety and wisdom, general goals, as opposed to "make X love me" or "bring me $100,000" You can ask for specific stuff, but I like the idea of the superior wisdom of the planetary spirit deciding for me exactly what I need.

Further, through doing an invocation of an astrological spirit I am getting closer to that spirit and building up our relationship. I am aligning myself with the spirits of the planets and the stars who are, at the celestial or intermediate level, responsible for everything in the material world. These are key spirits in the Great Chain of Being connecting us to the Divine World of Archetypes and Platonic Ideas and eventually to the One.

These are not our servants, we serve and embody them! They are not waiting around to get us stuff, but we benefit greatly by being in their presence and rising to their spheres. These are beings of incredible power beyond our limited understanding and comprehension. While it certainly is a valid traditional approach, I find it presumptuous to command these spirits.

To get a sense of their otherwordliness, their being beyond our ken, look at the very bizarre image of Inanna, the Sumerian Venus at the Venus rising in the 1st degree of Pisces talisman which corresponds to the Agrippa and Picatrix descriptions: a woman with the head and feet of a bird. Strikingly weird! Meditate on this image and see that Venus is numinous filled with great spiritual power beyond our limited understanding.

So while it's great to do a Venus love talisman, (Venus loves love!) perhaps you are intrigued, hopefully mysteriously drawn to invoke and contemplate these very powerful, very numinous, ultimately inexplicable spirits.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Book Recommendations from the UPenn Magic in History Series

One of the problems of a magical practitioner in the early 21st century is getting caught between running aground on the Scylla (google it!) of fluffy bunny New Ageism or being whirled into the Charybdis of academic magical scholarship.

It's very tempting to be "serious" and start paying lots of attention to academic sources, after all they are the high priests of our society and their imprimatur (google it!) is necessary for legitimacy and prestige.

Unfortunately, academic observers of magic are still required to reject its actual existence. This makes them very problematic sources of information when one is actually interested in doing magic. Hard to get practical tips from someone that insists the whole exercise is a pointless exercise in outdated superstition. So, I've generally used academic sources very sparingly, in the very beginning of study, simply to get my historical bearings. I hadn't even bothered to read anything new coming out of academia in the past few years, so it was a pleasant surprise to run across two new books in the UPenn Magic in History series that I can actually recommend.

The first is The Transformations of Magic: Illicit Learned Magic in the Later Middle Ages and Renaissance by Frank Klaassen

Klaassen even goes to so far as to say that in his opinion, at least as far as the actual practitioners were concerned, that magic worked. Though I don't think he'd go so far as to endorse the practicing of magic by those in the contemporary world. Klaassen is one of the leading lights of the Societas Magicae, which is extremely frosty about actual practitioners. Their membership form, for example, asks either for your academic affiliation or a listing of academic articles published.

In any case, I did find Transformation of Magic very interesting and can recommend it because it gives a great amount of information about the split between astrological and Solomonic magic. I had thought that this was a modern phenomenon, but in fact, while astrological magic texts, mostly of Arabic origin, were popular in the Middle Ages, by the time of the Renaissance, the Solomonic style, ala Greater Key of Solomon, Goetia, etc., were all the rage. Very, very interesting!

So definitely worth getting a copy here are the Kindle version of Transformations of Magic and Paperback version of Transformations of Magic

I was then on a roll, and found another good new academic magic source, Magic in the Cloister: Pious Motives, Illicit Interests, and Occult Approaches to the Medieval Universe by Sophie Page.

Here the focus is on the library of the Benedictine abbey of St. Augustine’s in Canterbury, (yes England). Interestingly enough a significant portion of the monks had the time, interest and inclination to collect and presumably practice magic, alchemy and astrology. Very interesting summary of medieval and Renaissance magic and magical texts. Well worth perusing!

Kindle version of Magic in the Cloister and Hardcover version of Magic in the Cloister

So let's just open the floodgates and look at the whole Magic in History series But I wouldn't buy it at the publisher, too expensive! Get Kindle or get used copies.

Here's what I like the most of the rest of the series:

Forbidden Rites: A Necromancer's Manual of the Fifteenth Century by Richard Kieckhefer

Oh, boy, this one really got me in trouble! This is a critical edition of a medieval book of magic, what Kieckhefer calls the Munich handbook of necromancy. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, while it includes the complete Latin, there is no complete English translation. Nevertheless, Kieckhefer gives a lots of information about the talismans, etc.

I got in trouble with the one talisman I made out of this book, a black Mirror of Lilith as you can see following the link. So while I can definitely recommend reading the book, I can't really recommend using it!

Paperback version of Forbidden Rites

The next book I can recommend is Unlocked Books: Manuscripts of Learned Magic in the Medieval Libraries of Central Europe by Benedek Lang

Again, by studying manuscripts and books in libraries, a great deal is revealed about the medieval and Renaissance practice of magic. Still, I'd love to have some actual critical editions of the magical texts discussed if not actual English translations.

Paperback version of Unlocked Books

Two more books in the series that actually contain translations of magical texts are:

Conjuring Spirits: Texts and Traditions of Medieval Ritual Magic by Claire Fanger

This contains a translation of Bokenham's "Book of the Angels, Rings, Characters and Images of the Planets"

Paperback version of Conjuring Spirits

Invoking Angels: Theurgic Ideas and Practices, Thirteenth to Sixteenth Centuries by Claire Fanger

This contains an English translation of Antonio Da Montulmo's "Book of Intelligences" which is very unusual, giving instructions for invoking the spirits of the Zodiacal signs and intelligences of the planets.

Paperback version of Invoking Angels

So you can lose yourself for awhile in a wealth of academic material and even get some actual astrological magic or malefic magical texts!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Review of Electional Astrology Course

Here is a review of my Electional Astrology Course by a recent graduate.

"For the past 18 months I have been working through (and have recently completed) the Electional Astrology course offered by Mr. Warnock. Since completing the course, I have used the skills acquired from Mr. Warnock’s Electional Astrology course in my daily life (and with clients) with good results.

As I browsed through the lessons prior to starting them, it became apparent I had enrolled in a course filled with depth and detail and that I was going learn a great deal which is what I was hoping for. I was also looking to study within the strict traditional approach found in Renaissance Astrology and not Modern Astrology – both hopes were fulfilled. Each lesson builds on the next, filled with the necessary information, reading material and chart examples to work through the questions at the end of each lesson. In the event there is something you are not sure of or have a question relating to the lesson, Mr. Warnock is available to answer any questions in a succinct and prompt manner. As a teacher, I have found Mr. Warnock to be approachable, supportive and helpful at all times, nothing is too much trouble – he is also patient and willing to clarify what it is you might not understand in a lesson. Mr. Warnock also carefully checks the student’s work thoroughly before recommending he/she move on to the next lesson. Over time, it became apparent the vast and extensive degree of Mr. Warnock’s knowledge when it comes to the subject of Traditional Renaissance Astrology - he is also willing to share this knowledge with other sincere and dedicated students.

Due to the detailed nature of the course, I would recommend students take their time to complete it – also, as a student, be prepared to do some additional research or reading on any astrological terms or theories to help broaden your knowledge and understanding. This is a course compatible with those who are self starters or have a high degree of initiative. It is essential that the student take their time with each lesson and refrain from rushing from one lesson to the next to ensure you have understood, grasped and comprehended the reading material otherwise you are setting yourself up for difficulties in the next lesson. I quote from the registration page: “Students should keep in mind that the material presented in the Electional Astrology Course requires commitment to master”. If you want to pass this course effort, patience and commitment will be required but the results are rewarding.

In closing, the course is excellent; I have thoroughly enjoyed it and would not hesitate to recommend it to others who are genuinely interested in learning the art of traditional Electional Astrology. Was the course value for money? Yes indeed it was when one considers the skill and depth of information it imparts. It was a joy and honour to have Mr. Warnock as a teacher."

LS Electional Astrology Student Victoria, AUSTRALIA

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Letter or Spirit of the Rules?

I had a question recently about a reference in Picatrix to only making certain talismans at night or during the day and what to do about this rule.

Really it comes down to whether we follow the letter of the rules or the spirit. But watch out, are we sure we know what the spirit really is?

There's a whole lot of different rules for electing talismans, just like there are many rules for elections in general. Typically our traditional sources relied on many other different earlier sources and just lay out all possible rules, without mentioning what is most important or trying to resolve any discrepancies. One of the nice things about Ramesey in Astrology Restored/Astrologia Restaurata is that he will list off a bunch of rules and then say, "well if you can't get all that, just do x, y or z"

The reality is that we can only elect about 3-5 astrological factors, so we have to pick a few that we (and hopefully our traditional sources) find most important. The day/night rule reminds me a lot of the Moon phase rule, ie Moon must be in appropriate phase, usually waxing. Now clearly day and night are pretty obvious as is the Moon phase, so these are easy rules for non-astrologers or beginning astrologers to follow. An immediate practical problem ensues, however, with both of these rules: right off the bat you lose 1/2 of the total times available for elections. So if you decide that day/night or Moon phase is the ultimate, most significant factor for all elections, and certainly there are some traditional sources that insist on this, you make your life as an electional astrologer or astrological magician very, very difficult.

Now if I am making a regular Moon talisman, or Lunar Mansion talisman or even a fixed star talisman, since fixed star talismans are essentially Moon aspecting the fixed star, I do make sure the Moon phase is appropriate. For any other planetary talisman, no, I don't think the Moon phase is so important that I will sacrifice getting the planet itself in a strong position as opposed to worrying about the Moon. I do compromise a bit here and I do get the Moon unafflicted, ie not combust, in detriment, fall, making nasty applying aspects, etc.

Now this gets into another issue. For the longest time, I've been insistent on looking at traditional (ie pre 1700) sources. This is because we all start out as either conscious or unconscious atheist-materialists and our view of reality in general and astrology and magic in particular, is very different from our medieval and Renaissance predecessors. Our "natural" reaction to almost any facet of magic or astrology is quite different from traditional astrologers and astrological magicians.

However, the next stage is a slavish and total devotion to every jot and tittle of a traditional source. No deviation is permitted and no source may be questioned. This is going too far in the other direction! Consider that traditional sources are often contradictory, what do you do then? If you are grounded in the tradition as a whole, you can find an authentic way to resolve or even disregard the contradiction.

Further, I don't think that magic or astrology have or need to "evolve", in other words what ever does not accord with 21st century sensibilities gets changed. On the other hand, there's a point at which a master doesn't need to look at the books anymore to know how to do the work. Of course, it's tempting to think one has mastered magic or astrology after a few charts, invocations or talismans, which is not possible.

Having been a full time practicing traditional astrologer and astrological magician for close to 15 years, having participated in translating Picatrix, and having elected and created hundreds of astrological talismans, I'm finally to the point of saying, "yes I'm a master of traditional astrological magic"

So when I deviate from a particular source, I've got a reason for it, both practical and traditional. Ultimately while I might not follow an individual thread, I am certainly very much within the overall tapestry of the tradition.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Spirits from Above:
Liber Antimaquis and Astrological Magic

I’ve posted a new translation by John Michael Greer of a passage from the Liber Antimaquis on my web site. The Liber Antimaquis is a Latin translation of the Arabic Kitab al-Istamatis, a medieval book of astrological magic and a source for Picatrix, the most famous grimoire of astrological magic. Similar to Picatrix, the Liber Antimaquis includes both philosophical and practical explanations of astrological magic.

In the beginning of this passage, the Liber Antimaquis speaks of “these spirits” and the spirits of the seven regions. By mentioning the planets later and by the fact that the sections immediately before and after the translated portion discuss the spirits of the planets, we can be sure that “these spirits” are the spirits of the 7 planets. So we have our first key point, that the spirits of the planets and not the visible, material bodies, are what is important. This is emphasized as the the Liber Antimaquis says that the spirits of the planets move in their spheres, signs and powers.

As the planetary spirits move through their spheres and through the Zodiac, changing in essential dignity, as well as accidental dignity from these movements come “good and evil, fortune and misfortune” to all creatures, all that is created of matter. This is a classic explanation of the role of the stars and planets, as the intermediaries between the purely spiritual and the material. The cycles of the Heavens foretell or control the cycles on Earth, depending on what paradigm you adopted.

But the influence of the planets is not equally or promiscuously distributed, instead the people in particular parts of the world, the regions ruled by each planet and depending on the function each person performs, are also ruled by each planet. Finally, Liber Antimaquis says that the planets are assigned to “every man according to the share of intellect he has.” On one hand we could take this as a quantitative measure of intelligence, but I think rather that it has to do with the different thought processes and thinking typified by each planet.

What is the mechanism for this influence exerted by the planets? The Liber Antimaquis explains that the powers (“virtues”) of the planets are embodied into souls and the natures and complexions of the planets run into and are conjoined with souls.

Ok, to moderns this is somewhat confusing. Soul, spirit, virtue, complexion, have all changed their meaning since the Renaissance. Let’s begin to see some connections by looking at the macrocosm, the Great World of the Cosmos and the microcosm, the Little World of each individual. As Agrippa notes in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy, the cosmos can be seen as having a three fold structure of the Material World, Divine World and Intermediate Celestial World. In the individual these correspond to the physical body, the divine spirit and the intermediate astral body. Sometimes the divine spirit is called soul and sometimes this term is used for the intermediate spiritual body, referred to in other traditions as chi or prana.

So the astrological spirits, themselves intermediary, are connected to the intermediate astral body. Their powers are their natural qualities, their nature. This is in a sense an active influence, but also like the warmth of the Sun or coolness of a breeze, simply an expression of the basic nature of these spirits being what they are.

Finally the Liber Antimaquis says, “in every man, as the planets operate in his nativity, so descend the spiritual virtues of each of these spirits”

So now we again have a differentiation of the planets, whose powers are different depending on a person’s nativity. As I read this it is not saying, for example, that if Saturn rules the 7th in your natal chart, that Saturn can be used as a love talisman for you. Saturn’s power is his nature which is not changed by the time of your birth, rather the question is how apt are you to accept this nature? The natural power of Saturn will descend strongly, moderately or perhaps only a little, if Saturn is strong, moderate or weak in your chart.

In discussing astrological magic, Picatrix says, “…workings were more certain if the planet was strong in the natal chart of those people who performed the working.” Picatrix Bk I ch 5. And paralleling the Liber Antimaquis Picatrix says of a Jupiter ritual, that the spirit of Jupiter “will reach out to him…especially if Jupiter is strong in his nativity.” Picatrix Bk III ch 8.

“Reaches out to him” encapsulates very nicely the sense of the astrological spirits as personalities with a specific predisposition to each individual and really shows the underlying devotional focus that guides my interactions with the celestial spirits.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What is the Source of Power of Talismans?

First, let me say that there are obviously many different types of talismans and many different approaches to them. We are only dealing with astrological talismans here, talismans that are ensouled with astrological spirits. Also we are working in a very traditional Western, pre-1700 context.

Even traditional astrologers had different paradigms for how astrology and astrological magic worked. Al-Kindi, for example, wrote a book called On the Stellar Rays that attributed the power of the planets, and in fact, all things to the fact they emitted spiritual rays. Mind you these are not x-rays, or light or some other form of matter and energy, these are spiritual rays, but this is a very congenial explanation for moderns.

The second approach is that epitomized by Plotinus, who writes in his Enneads "Are the Stars Causes?" Ennead II, Tr 3, that the stars are not causes, but since all things are part of the One, one can read events through the stars. In other words the cycles of the planets and stars very clearly indicate the underlying spiritual cycles that govern all material things.

Finally, the third traditional approach, might be termed the magical approach. Here the spirits of the stars, planets, etc., are seen as spiritual entities, with personalities that can be interacted with.

All of these traditional approaches interacted and overlapped. Picatrix, in particular, mentions all three at various points. As a predictive astrologer, I tend towards the second approach, of the common cycles of Heaven and Earth, but as an astrological magician, I am increasingly pulled towards the third, the magical approach.

In fact, I could take this a bit further and say that my approach is increasingly that of a celestial priest. When you go to a temple or shrine in Japan, for example, you can buy talismans which the priests have created/consecrated. Talismans aren’t their primary purpose, the function of the priests, however, more devotional and more focused on serving the spirits and assisting people in their spiritual path. This is certainly the direction I would like to move in.

Ok, so following the magical approach, what is it that we do when we create a talisman? Where does its power come from?

Let’s look at perhaps the most modern style of magic, Chaos magic. The closest to a talisman in this style of magic is the sigil,

“A sigil can be thought of as an original artistic creation, produced by conceiving a sentence that expresses a magical intent, and converting that sentence into a pictorial representation. The point is to obtain an image that can carry the intent past the psychic censor and into the subconscious mind, where it becomes magically effective. He goes on to say, The great advantage of sigil magic is that no particular belief-set is needed to work with it; there are no discarnate entities to summon, no deities to appease, no invisible rays to emanate from your solar plexus, (unless you want to create them yourself as a meta-belief device).”‎

Magical power in Chaos magic, therefore derives from the individual, a very modern attitude!

Traditional astrological magic is based on a worldview where, while an individual has their own personal magical power, most magical powers lie outside the individual. Cornelius Agrippa, in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy, speaks of three worlds, the material, the celestial and the divine world. Astrological magic, therefore comes from the celestial world, intermediate between the material and divine.

Using our third traditional approach, therefore, the power of astrological magic comes from the astrological spirits. Picatrix says, “By sages, magical images are called talismans…To work victoriously he makes it with mathematical proportions and influences, and uses celestial writing. These images are made from their proper substances in order that they might receive the aforementioned influence, and this is done at appropriate times. By suffumigation they are strengthened, and spirits are drawn into these images.” Picatrix Bk I ch 2.

Let’s examine this a bit further. How is it exactly that spirits are drawn into talismans? One way is epitomized by the Goetia and similar grimoires, which command the spirits and use superior power, often divine names and the will of the magician to imprison the spirits.

I follow a different, more devotional approach. Similarly Ficino speaks of making talismans working with the Anima Mundi, the Soul of the World, as a collective spirit containing all of the celestial spirits through, “daemons [spirits] being attracted and gifts from the ensouled world and from the living stars. Again let no man wonder that Soul can be allured as it were into material forms, since she herself has created baits of this kind suitable to herself, to be allured thereby and she always and willingly dwells in them. There is nothing in this whole living world so deformed that Soul [of the world] does not attend it, that a gift of the Soul [of the world] is not in it. Three Books on Life, Bk III ch 1.

Astrological spirits ensoul our talismans because the talismans are made at the correct time for the spirit, are of appropriate materials, images and designs and because we very politely and repeatedly request that they enter the talisman. Finding our request fitting and proper, they ensoul the talisman.