Astrology Book Review: Introduction to Medical Astrology (Wanda Sellar)

April 18, 2009 by  


Medicine is one of the earliest applications of astrology, and one of the most neglected branches of the art today. Granted, going to see a doctor is less often the life-and-death affair that it once was; in the face of such odds, astrology was yet another tool of the physician to cheat death. Today, because much of the medico-astrological knowledge has been lost, and because of laws that prohibit the practice of medicine without a license, medical astrology is a relatively uneventful backwater on the oft-tumultuous ocean of astrology. The result is that there are few good books on medical astrology today.


Wanda Sellar’s Introduction to Medical Astrology is a solid beginner’s text in this vast and complicated field. It has obviously been carefully researched and supported with many references to important primary sources. However, the reader seeking a true traditional medical astrology primer will read Introduction to Medical Astrology somewhat selectively. There are enough 20th-century concepts and ideas, some not based on traditional astrological thought, that the purist must tread with care. Yet Introduction to Medical Astrology covers important subjects in sufficient detail and with copious footnotes, so that one can move on to more advanced texts, if one so wishes.

Contents & Structure

Introduction to Medical Astrology is essentially a primer, which examines each piece of the be horoscope individually, putting them all together at the end. What makes this book stand above the rest are the very accessible chapters on non-natal astrology; decumbiture and electing the times for medical treatment. Neither topic is covered in great depth in most modern texts, and their inclusion was particularly welcome in Sellar’s book.

Chapters 1 and 2 introduce the reader to the basics of medical astrology, and describe in detail its role in mankind’s history, starting in ancient Mesopotamia, up to today.

Chapter 3 starts on the building blocks in earnest, detailing the connections between the zodiac and health, first describing the nature of each of the elemental triplicities, and then going into detail for each sign. Chapter 4 builds on this to describe the basic life processes occurring in the body, again by elemental triplicity, and then describing each sign in terms of its masculine or feminine nature, and the organs which are rules. Chapter 5 then goes on to describe the quadruplicities and their effect on health, specifically the types of illnesses associated with each modality. For example, mutable signs are described as susceptible to “fluctuation in vitality and unpredictability and illness.” These guidelines are particularly useful when judging non-natal horoscopes, and derived directly from traditional medical thought. Chapter 6 explores the relationship (or non-relationship) between inconjunct signs, and the application of the concept to medical astrology.

Chapter 7 describes the planets from a medical standpoint, and though the author uses the outer planets and Chiron, she describes the rulerships of the traditional visible planets very accurately and succinctly. By the time the reader reaches this chapter, she will have been exposed to a number of excellent example charts, for example Vivien Leigh’s horoscope, notable for indications of bipolar disorder. The afflictions to Leigh’s Mercury and Moon, significators of the mind, are, sadly, quite apparent.

Chapter 8 explores the houses and their use in medical astrology, an important topic that is deftly handled by the author, though we would point out that the eighth house does not rule the organs of reproduction, a role reserved for the seventh house. Chapter 9 lists the important aspects in medical astrology, with reference made to William Lilly’s use of orbs; the traditional notion being that orbs are given to planets, not aspects. Chapter 10 is interesting, as it describes uninspected planets and missing elements in the chart. The latter is the concept that one may have an overabundance of fire, for example, but with insufficient water. This necessarily reflects a corresponding imbalance in the body. This chapter is very useful for locating problem areas in the horoscope, and it would have been helpful to get an introduction to basic humoral horoscope analysis earlier on in the text for those unfamiliar with the concept.

Chapter 11 briefly describes the use of midpoints, with which I do not have much experience, so cannot comment. Chapter 12 lays out the various way of dividing the life by planetary stages. We are first given a list of the phases of gestation, each associated with a given planet, and then ways of dividing up the actual life, according to 20th-century astrologers, but also Shakespeare! There are a handful of fascinating example charts in this chapter, and the author makes a usually abstract concept of planetary life phase assignments come to life.

In Chapter 13, all of what we have learned about natal horoscope analysis from a medical perspective is brought together, and the author takes us through a detailed chart analysis to demonstrate her working methods.

Chapter 14 describes the forgotten but ever-so-useful art of decumbiture horoscopes, defined simply as the chart for the time that a sick person first takes to bed when they are feeling unwell. Also, the time of consultation can be a become richer horoscope. These horoscopes are very useful for learning about the cause of the disease, its course, as well as the appropriate remedy. Heavy reference here is made to Culpeper, whose book on medical astrology and decumbiture in particular is very much worth reading as a more advanced source on the topic.

Chapter 15 gives a few electional rules for surgery, noting that the importance of finding the right time is still key today. A fascinating study is cited, noting that “in 1000 cases of postoperative hemorrhaging, 82% occurred between the first and last quarters of the Moon peaking at the full Moon.” If we learn nothing else about electional astrology, surely this tidbit is worth it. Chapter 16 teaches principles of finding fertility and pregnancy in the natal horoscope.

A generous anatomical glossary and disease glossary are provided, along with a substantial of reference section for those who wish to pursue this fascinating topic further.


Introduction to Medical Astrology is an excellent book for those just getting started in the art of medical astrology. More advanced students will find it useful for the liberal use of example horoscopes and their detailed explanations. There are few comprehensive yet balanced beginner texts for medical astrology available today, and for interested students, it is helpful to learn the basics from an easy-to-understand guide such as Sellar’s before they move on to more advanced texts. Recommended.


4 Responses to “Astrology Book Review: Introduction to Medical Astrology (Wanda Sellar)”

  1. Krysta on April 18th, 2009 3:25 pm

    Sooo glad you’re back and as usual very insightful. I enjoyed Wanda’s other book that you wrote about and found it useful, Thanks for your in depth reviews to help us out.

  2. Nina Gryphon on April 25th, 2009 8:10 am

    Hi Krysta,

    It’s good to be back 🙂 Thank you so much for your comment. I have found there aren’t that many in-depth reviews of astrology books, especially the more niche topics, and more detail is always useful for someone wanting more information. There should be more reviews in the coming weeks here, so be sure to check back.

    Best wishes,

  3. Dima on April 29th, 2009 12:27 am

    Gooooooooooooo Nina 🙂

  4. Nina Gryphon on April 29th, 2009 6:54 am

    🙂 Thanks, Dima.

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