Astrology Book Review: Traditional Medical Astrology

March 3, 2012 by  


Lee Lehman’s latest book, Traditional Medical Astrology, is out, and it is a rich work with copious detail.  As she points out in her preface, “the study of medical astrology is not especially sexy,” but when we need it, we really need it.   The same is true for this book; there is little flash here but much substance for when the need arises.  Lehman’s book is a good start for those interested in the historical underpinnings of medical astrology – and historical they surely are, since the Western and Middle Eastern application of astrology to medicine originated in antiquity and lasted until the 17th century.  Lehman’s focus and sources are strictly traditional, though she will use the outer planets on occasion to fill in an interpretation.  Note that Lehman is not a medical practitioner.  As a result, we do not see the application of medical astrology to cases under the author’s care, an essential perspective that distinguishes the classics in the field, such as the works of Nicolas Culpeper.  As an overview of the many astrological methods applied to medicine, however, this thorough book is outstanding.


Traditional Medical Astrology is a well-researched overview of traditional astrological medical methods, with a good historical and conceptual overview of the key basics of ancient medicine.  The book covers natal topics, such as the temperament and length of life calculations, in addition to decumbiture/horary charts for specific instances of diseases.  The last few chapters are devoted to electional astrology and prediction of the course of a disease.  A solid reference book for those of us interested in the theory and practice of traditional medicine.

Contents and Structure

In an early chapter, “A Word to the Modern Astrologer,” Lehman encourages readers coming from a modern astrological tradition to dive in.  This strikes me as sensible, given that traditional astrology can be intimidating, due to its plethora of foreign terms and frequent reference to ancient books.  Few of us in this age of superficial knowledge have been educated to grapple with intellectual difficulty, but as with everything, more effort usually equals better results.

Chapter 1, “The History of Medicine and Astro-Medicine” is a good summary of the historical movements of medicine starting with prehistory, with a strong section on the four-humor structure, especially as applied to astrological diagnosis and theory.   In the chapter, Lehman articulates a theory I have long held myself – traditional medicine worked hand in hand with electional astrology to assist in determining the best time for preparation and administration of treatments.  The theory is that astrology fell out of the picture at the end of the 17th century and the treatments were timed according to what is convenient/practical for the practitioner.  Perhaps for this reason, traditional medical treatments lost much of their effectiveness, and modern medicine began to be born from the search for a better alternative.

Chapter 2, “Understanding Hippocratic-Galenic Medicine” provides background on ancient ways of thinking about health and disease, and gets into the specifics of establishing and maintaining humoral balance by keeping the hot, cold, wet, and dry qualities in balance.  This chapter provides some background on the four complexional types – choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, and melancholic – their personalities and predominant diseases.   There are a few valuable tables here, notably Hippocrates’ injunctions for balancing health practices by the season.  In winter, for instance, we would be required to do lots of walking but eat only one meal daily.  The austere winter regimen is offset by Hippocrates’ recommendation to have as much sex as possible to heat the body (“But honey, the doctor said it’s for my health!”).  In summer, we are encouraged to wrestle in the dust and keep our exercise short and infrequent.

Chapter 3, “The Body, Its Health, Temperament, and Virtue as Shown by the Natal Chart” gets into the eternally disputed methodology for calculating temperament.  Lehman makes a few good points, notably the element of the Sun being used, rather than the season.  I am not convinced that a perfect calculation exists, seeing the temperament as one of the tools in the astrological toolbox, but not necessarily the most important one.  The author then provides a few temperament calculations of celebrities.  It would have been nice to see a few charts for people known to the author that she can comment upon personally; with public figures; it is difficult to know what is reality and what is the public image, especially when it comes to health and the overall constitution.  I enjoy speculation as much as anyone (possibly more), but for teaching purposes, the more first-hand information, the better.

There is an interesting section on Richard Saunders’ natal Almuten of Virtue, which looks to the 5th cusp almuten to see which bodily functions were likely to be impacted for someone.  The 5th house is an unusual choice for a health reading, since we initially look to the 6th or the 1st houses of disease and vitality, respectively.  The 5th rules the liver, however, the traditional seat of vitality, which regulates the humoral balance.   I would have enjoyed seeing additional analysis and examples of this method, especially since Saunders’ method was of his own invention.

Chapter 4, “The Body and Its Diseases As Shown by the Natal Chart” starts with an interesting observation; unlike classical astrology, which mostly cared about the timing of one’s death, modern astrology tries to determine the exact cause of death – will it be cancer or heart disease?  One can hardly wait to find out.  There are difficulties with the modern approach.  The Pluto in Leo generation, in a most inconsiderate fashion, has 36% lower rates of death by coronary heart disease than preceding generations, happily ignoring the fact that Pluto is a malefic and Leo rules the heart.

This chapter is where the author gets into some data crunching.  It would be ideal if she delved into the statistics, and I hope to see more information in Lehman’s future articles or talks.  Comparison of each factor to the norm to see the deviation, a discussion of the sample characteristics, and controlling for variables such as age and sex would be outstanding.   Lehman looks at a sample of about 700 A-rated charts and the natal planetary hour and 1st/6th house rulers represented in heart disease, cancer, and drug abuse.  There are a couple of short sections on traditional analyses of disease, namely by Lilly and Gadbury.

Chapter 5, “The Body and Its Longevity” deals with the traditional length of life calculations.  As in many other books on this topic, the author starts with an apologia, presumably to comfort the more sensitive readers who may be learning of the existence of death for the first time.  This is followed by a substantive listing of Arabian parts around mortality and morbidity, and Morin’s own list of significators for the same.  The author shares some statistics and bar graphs describing the placement of the Arabic parts and planets in heart disease and cancer deaths.

Lehman then walks us through the hyleg and alcochoden calculations that lead to a length of life estimate.  This is a rather complex and hotly contested area of astrology, so the interested reader will want to review as many sources as possible, test many charts, and draw her own conclusions.  As with calculating temperament, no one method works 100% of the time, but some are better than others.  Ten examples are given for the reader to follow along with the author.

Chapter 6, “Astrological Iatromancy” is my favorite chapter, not only because iatromancy is a great word, but also because this is where we learn to apply some of the most useful techniques of medical astrology.   The author discusses the difference between horary (question) and decumbiture (start of illness or diagnosis) charts, and a checklist for evaluating such charts.  Then we are off.  This chapter is where Lehman’s skills and insights as a researcher and compiler really shine.  There is a handy six-step checklist (I bookmarked this page, as it is a great summary), followed by a lengthy list of medical aphorisms (of which there are thousands) from traditional sources including Saunders, Culpeper, Lilly, Hermes Trismegistus, and Blagrave.  She then provides a few charts that she has run through a computer program that has all – yes, all – of the aphorisms in Lehman’s sources.  It is interesting to see all the aphorisms fighting it out amongst themselves, and one cannot help but reach the same conclusion as Culpeper; let us keep our brains in our heads and not in our books.  Each chart is different and applying thousands of rules to it will not give us a magic answer.  The author seems to come to a similar conclusion, as most of the charts consist of her analysis with her six-point checklist, rather than a mindless application of aphorisms.

Chapter 7, “Prediction through Time: Crises and the Development of Disease” is a fascinating topic, as the ancients spent a lot of time evaluating the changes in a disease.  Specifically, astrologers and doctors set charts for the crisis points of the disease and watched for the good and bad aspects in those charts.  Crisis times are when the transiting Moon makes a major hard aspect to the decumbiture Moon.  Judicial (intermediate) times are when the transiting Moon makes a minor hard aspect (semi-square and sesquiquadrate) to the decumbiture Moon.   For chronic illnesses, we look at the same positions of the Sun relative to its decumbiture position. I have used this method for myself when ill, and it works extremely well.  We then see some of the predictive value of solar return charts when it comes to illness and injury.

Chapter 8: “Surgery: Electionals and Events” shows us some rules for surgery, as well as examples of surgical elections and charts for surgeries done without astrological consultation, with discussion of how the procedures had turned out.  The attentive reader will not be surprised to know that the surgery where the #1 rule of medical astrology was violated – never have the Moon in the sign ruling the treated body part – turned out terribly.  The patient almost died and had to have multiple re-dos of the surgery.

Chapter 9: “Non-surgery Electional Astrology: Purges, Diets, and Breaking Habits” provides more opportunities to apply the art of electing the right moment for treatment.  These are the moments that are more electable than surgery; few surgeons have very flexible schedules, but if we want to find the right moment to quit smoking, start a new drug regimen, or start a diet, elections can be helpful.  We see a summary of the therapeutic methods of the Hippocratic/Galenic practitioners, few of which are in common use today; bloodletting, vomiting, purging, enemas, sweating, and diuretic procedures.  Even for today, there are some helpful rules here, e.g.: to stop a nasal discharge, put the Moon in Earth.  Lehman applies the ancient rules for more modern problems, like beginning a weight loss regimen: eat your first “diet” meal on a waning Moon, then once you enter a maintenance phase, do a second chart with lots of fixed signs to keep the weight off.

In Chapter, 10, “Conclusion: When We No Longer Engage in Bloodletting,” the author puts the study of traditional medical astrology in context.  As she points out, U.S. medical expenses have tripled in the last 50 years, yet life expectancy has only risen 10%.  She expects that inevitable cutbacks in medical funding will lead to more alternative treatments, where medical astrologers could find a niche combining their skills with alternative medical modes such as herbalism, traditional Chinese medicine, or homeopathy.

Finally, there are a helpful few appendices: classical concepts necessary for horary (for those brand new from the land of modern astrology), a glossary of terms used in the book, where we may learn the meanings of words such as abstergent and spagyric.  There are a few worksheets for temperament calculation, and medical rulerships of various body parts.  Don’t miss the small but useful table comparing indications of a physical vs. mental or spiritual disease as indicated in horaries.


I enjoyed delving into this book, as it summarizes many of the traditional medical books on my bookshelf in easy-to-understand modern language. Though it is not a substitute for the classical texts, it provides a painless, accurate introduction to many essential topics that one can learn about in more depth from the masters themselves.  This is not astrology lite by any means, but rather straddles the ground between a reference work and a critical text, as many of Lehman’s books do.  Highly recommended.


Traditional Medical Astrology

By: J. Lee Lehman, Ph.D.

Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 2011

34.99 USD

Available at and

Astrology Book Review: Astrologia Gallica, Book 17 (Jean-Baptiste Morin, trans. James Herschel Holden)

May 31, 2009 by  

Astrology Book Review: Astrologia Gallica 17

James Herschel Holden, the premier English translator of the works of Jean-Baptiste Morin, recently published this essential volume, Book 17 of the Astrologia Gallica. Book 17 discusses the qualities of the 12 houses, and, as is typical for Morin, he lays out and refutes the objections of those who say that the division of the sky into 12 parts is arbitrary. Never one to shrink from ambitious projects, Morin discusses the reasoning behind the meaning of each house, and makes some of his own emendations according to his own logic. Then, he moves on to discussing the various house systems, and makes arguments for his own preference for Regiomontanus, after which he explains his own eponymous system. Book 17 concludes with some theoretical discussion of the calculations used in determining house cusps, which is primarily of theoretical and historical importance, though less so for practicing astrologers today.


A slim but essential book for understanding Morin’s system of horoscope construction and interpretation. The theory behind house construction is interesting, primarily for those with interest in the history of astrology and astronomy. For astrologers who simply want to understand Morin’s assignations of the house meanings, there is plenty of food for thought and in-depth discussion as well. Perhaps the most unique feature of Morin’s house meanings is his linking of opposite houses. For example, the traditional meaning of the sixth house is that of illness; Morin also assigns this as one of the meanings of the opposite, the 12th house, precisely because the two are opposite and therefore share some essential meaning. Book 17 of Astrologia Gallica will be of interest to intermediate to advanced astrologers, but beginners can get a great deal out of it as well, provided they can keep up with the various historical references to other astrologers and some of the more obscure astrological/astronomical terminology. For those who want additional information by Morin about the houses, he wrote a short work called The Cabal of the 12 Houses, which was translated in 1659 by the English astrologer Sir George Wharton.

Contents and Structure

The book is divided into three major parts: Section 1, “The Cabal of the Astrological Houses and Its Natural Foundation That We Have Revealed,” Section 2, “The Erection of Celestial Figures for Astrology,” and Section 3 “In Which the Essence or the Formal Reason for the Astrological Houses Is Stated.”

Section 1 begins with restating basic arguments that Morin made in Book 14 of Astrologia Gallica, namely that the “birth, bigger, decline, and the death of things” are all distinct periods of life on earth, and therefore are shown by different parts of the heaven. Philosophically, Morin assumes agreement with the basic notion of “on earth as it is in heaven.” Chapter 2 begins with the most basic distinction in the heavens; above the horizon and below it, with the ascendant, or the rising place being the most powerful of all the points in the heavens. The Midheaven is the apex of the path of the body as it travels through the heavens, the setting represents decline, while the angle of the earth or the fourth house is directly below the Earth and represents the death or end of something. In Chapter 3, Morin provides a table listing the meanings of each of the houses. The two major differences between his meanings and those of the older astrologers is the assignment of illnesses to the 12th house and the assignment of both the parents to the fourth house, whereas before it was only associated with the father. It is interesting to note here Morin’s reference to Kepler, who correctly stated that it is the earth that turns, and not the heavens. Morin apparently went to his grave believing that the earth is stationary, in accordance with the Church dogma of that time.

Chapter 4 affirms that there are 12 divisions of the heavens, and they are divided by three because of the divine Trinity. Thus, it follows naturally in Chapter 5 is an explanation of the threefold division, the triplicity. Each of the four triplicities is associated with with one of the angles; for example, the first house in the first triplicity is that of the ascendant, followed by the ninth house of religion, and then the fifth house of children. Morin calls it the triplicity of life. He goes through each of the triplicities in turn, concluding that everything that happens to humans can be shown by one or more of the 12 houses. Chapter 6 presents Morin’s view that the opposite houses are related, as discussed above with the example of the sixth and 12th houses. Chapters 7 and 8 are theoretical reputations of anti-astrological writers, including Pico Mirandola, and an additional exploration of the relationship of the fall of man and the division of the heavens into 12 houses. Morin comes to the conclusion that even if we lived in a prelapsarian state, the heaven would still have been divided into the 12 houses we know today. Here, he runs into the theological problem of suffering, which is only said to have begun after Adam’s exile from Eden. This makes it difficult to place houses four, eight, and 12, which are associated with suffering, but he performs a little logical legerdemain.

Section 2 takes up the division of the houses into two halves, that above and below the horizon, and of the vertical division of the Meridian. Chapter 2 examines and rejects be equal house system which divides the ecliptic into 12 equal parts. Morin attacks that on the basis of the two most important points of the horoscope, the Ascendant and the Medium Coeli, not starting their appropriate houses. In Equal House system, the first house would begin at 0° of the given sign, and the Ascendant would be somewhere in the house, but not necessarily copresent with the beginning of the house. Morin also shows the horoscope of Cardan, “the Prince of Astrologers,” to demonstrate the efficacy of systems other than the equal house system. Perhaps somewhat inevitably, Morin shows his own nativity, which he uses throughout Astrologia Gallica, and complains of his Pisces stellium in the Vale of Miseries, also known as the 12th house. This is an interesting chapter, because in it, Morin gives great autobiographical detail, and reveals his character indirectly. He uses the difficulties of his life to show that in the Regiomontanus system, his miseries were shown by all the planets in the 12th house, whereas in the Equal House system, they would have been in the benefic 11th house. Of course, some might argue that his life was indeed very fortunate, prosperous, and highly accomplished. He then uses as an example another nativity that shows up throughout Astrologia Gallica, that of Gustavus Adolphus, the King of Sweden. He died in battle, and his chart is indeed very violent and indicative of a military death. Another horoscope is given, that of the Duke of Montmorency, and that of Albert Wallenstein, the Duke of Friedland. These were all military commanders during the war-filled 17th century, all of whom died violently in battle.

Chapter 3 lists a few other house systems of which Morin disapproves, including that of Porphyry and Alchabitius, the latter having been used extensively before and during Morin’s time. In Chapter 4, Morin examines the Campanus method of house division, and finds it wanting, partly because the system divides the ecliptic and the equator into unequal parts, and often does not intersect the ecliptic. Moran also shows his natal chart as it would have been drawn using the Campanus system, and points out that in that system Saturn would have ruled his ninth house of religion, rather than Jupiter, and Saturn would not have made Morin as deeply devout as he had been. He then displays the Nativity of François de Bonne, the Constable of France, who ascended through the ranks of the nobility, which is better indicated by the Regiomontanus system. Chapter 5 comes to the inevitable conclusion that the Regiomontanus is the better house system, and Morin’s own variation of it, which later becomes known as the Morin house system, is by far the best method to use.

Section 3 is the most theoretical and perhaps mathematical of the entire book, and begins with the assertion that the essence of an astrological house is the relation of its location to the native’s location on the earth. Chapter 2 states correctly that the houses are determined by a line that passes through the center of the earth, even though a human is born on the surface of the earth. The difference between these two locations should be corrected by parallax, but Morin does not apparently do so for any of his charts. Chapter 3 determines that the heaven should be divided into 12 houses, rather than some other number, and reaffirms the privacy of the ascendant degree. Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 discuss some of the ambiguities that are writes from dividing the sky into houses. Chapter 6 briefly discusses some traditional divisions of the houses, such as into four quadrants. Moran quickly dispenses with these, stating that it is illogical for the fourth quadrant, comprising houses one, two, and three, to be called that of the old age, because it contains the first house, which represents the beginning of life, not its end.


Book 17 of Astrologia Gallica is challenging, but essential for understanding some of the concepts that Moran later takes for granted in the following volumes. It is particularly useful to look at the concepts that he retains from the tradition, and those that he discards, such as the division of the heaven into four quadrants, as shown in the last chapter. The book is also worthwhile for examining the lives and natal horoscopes of people largely forgotten by history, and to watch over the master astrologers shoulder as he interprets them. Another highly recommended book from the Astrologia Gallica series.

—+ + +—

Astrologia Gallica: Book Seventeen, The Astrological Houses
By: Jean-Baptiste Morin
Translated by: James Herschel Holden, M.A., Fellow of the American Federation of Astrologers
American Federation of Astrologers, 2008
21.95 USD
Available from,, and

Astrology Book Review: America Is Born (Regulus Astrology LLC/Dr. H.)

May 16, 2009 by  

Nun in Thought. Astrology Book Review: America Is Born

The full title of this book is America Is Born: Introducing the Regulus USA National Horoscope. In it, the pseudonymous author, Dr. H., brings his horoscope rectification skills to bear on the U.S. national horoscope. He uses medieval astrological techniques and a great deal of historical data to arrive at a rectified version of the well-known Sibly horoscope for July 4, 1776.

Along the way, he demonstrates his primary direction sequence as a means of predicting events from the horoscope, as well as Abu Ma’shar’s method of directing planets via primary motion through the bounds (aka the planetary terms). As was the case with Dr. H.’s previous book on rectification, much of the really juicy material resides in the book’s appendixes. For example, Appendix C contains the rectified horoscopes of several individuals who strongly influenced the U.S. national consciousness, and the links between their horoscopes and that of the USA.


Another excellent, substantive book from Regulus Astrology, America Is Born is primarily suited to intermediate and advanced astrologers. Dr. H. really works the medieval techniques, and assumes his readers will have some familiarity with such methods. This is a book for enthusiasts of mundane astrology; the art of predicting political and public events, but many methods are presented that could also be used for natal horoscopes, such as directing planets through the planetary bounds. America Is Born is best read in conjunction with, or after, A Rectification Manual, which goes through the building blocks of astrology in greater detail.

Structure & Contents

America Is Born has perhaps the most fascinating preface I have ever read – in an astrology book or elsewhere. In it, the author discusses the symbolism of afflicted Mercury in the USA natal chart, suggesting that astrologers, being Mercury-ruled, are in particular danger should they make public their predictions of US events. This is interesting, but begs the question whether other Mercury-ruled professions in the US are in similar danger with going public (writers, finance people, accountants, lawyers, etc.).

Chapter One discusses the role of national horoscopes in mundane astrology, showing that the widespread adoption of the national horoscope really arose with Charles Carter in the 1950s. Dr. H’s book makes a compelling case for the use of such horoscopes, but one should note that such usage is not traditional; the medieval astrologers used planetary conjunctions and ingresses to make mundane predictions.

Chapter Two jumps right in, using primary directions to test the broad-brush positions of the Sibly chart; the chart’s sect and the position of the Moon. Chapter Three is an interesting meta-analysis of the “astrological moment,” the time that is most propitious for an astrologer to actually perform a rectification.

Chapter Four details Abu Ma’shar’s system of distributors and participators. This is essentially the method of moving a planetary significator by primary motion through the planetary terms. This method is a time Lord system, so for example, the distributor for 27 Aquarius 51 (the position of the Moon in the Sibley chart) is Saturn/Aquarius. Saturn refers to the Egyptian term ruler for that position. The author’s point is that we do not simply look at the nature of the planet ruling the bound, but also the sign, and we interpret them as a whole. The participator is a planet which has most recently contacted the point under examination (27 Aquarius 51 in our example), and which must be analyzed as a time Lord of the same influence as the distributor.

Chapter Five introduces the calculation of primary directions, with the author taking us through some of the key steps of calculating primaries. This is a very useful chucker for those who want to learn how to calculate primary directions, as well as those who want to understand the astronomical justification behind this method. Chapter Six gets to delineation and comparison of important events and periods in the United States history compared with some of the distributors of the time. For example, the period between May 27, 1960 and September 28, 1966 was ruled by Venus/Leo. The author’s attributions to this influence include Camelot, cocktail culture, and the Rat Pack, all indicative of pleasure, partying, and celebrity.

Chapter Seven introduces all of the planet-ascendant primary directions of the Regulus USA horoscope. This is the participator portion of Abu Ma’shar’s method introduced in Chapter Five. Chapter Eight starts with the Moon and its directions to the Regulus USA horoscope. The subsequent chapters all discuss each of the planet’s primary directions; the Sun through Jupiter, in Chapter 15.

Appendix A provides a list of events used for the chart’s initial rectification, comprising about five small-type pages. Appendix B gives a list of all ascendant directions by primary motion, direct and converse, that had been presented in previous chapters. For example, approximately the first three years after 1776, the distributor was Mars/Sagittarius sextile the Moon. Given that, per Dr. H.’ s analysis, this Moon has as one of its significations the political philosophy of human equality, it is fitting that the Revolutionary war (Mars) should be connected to these ideals. Appendix C shows the influence of directing through the balance on individuals, specifically those who particularly exemplified an era in American history. For example, the rectified horoscope of John Marshall, with his Capricorn Saturn in the 12th house, is associated with the Saturn/Capricorn distribution in the United States horoscope.

Appendix D details the author’s test of the efficacy of Egyptian versus Ptolemaic bounds, concluding that the Egyptian bounds are more accurate. Appendix E shows the author’s results from test of solar arc directions as compared to primary directions. He concludes that solar arc directions show more public events, where his primary directions show events more directly tied to the individual.


In some ways, America Is Born is a more specialized book than the author’s prior manual of rectification. This is because many of the techniques introduced in the previous book are taken for granted here, but for astrologers interested in the political prediction or interpretation, America Is Born is a gold mine of historical and astrological information. For starters, there are few horoscopes purporting to show the beginning of the United States of America that are as well supported as the one presented by the author in his book.  There are certainly few horoscopes supported by as much test data, and additional information (much of it at the author’s website, Regulus Astrology). For those who use national inception horoscopes, the author makes a very compelling case that his rectification should be used. Highly recommended.


America Is Born: Introducing the Regulus USA National Horoscope

Dr. H. (pseudonymous) via Regulus Astrology LLC

Regulus Astrology LLC, 2008, 407 pages, paperback.

USD 39.95

Available from, and

Astrology Book Review: The Judgments of Nativities (Abu ‘Ali Al-Khayyat, trans. James Holden)

May 10, 2009 by  

Prophet Elijah. Astrology Book Review: The Judgments of Nativities

This essential work has been re-released by the AFA more than 20 years after the first edition appeared in print. The Judgments of Nativities is a classic of natal astrology, and a remarkably lucid and systematic exposition of traditional astrological principles. Many astrologers keep their copy of The Judgments of Nativities close to hand, and most copies from the 1988 edition are disintegrating at this stage from frequent use. Thus, the re-release is a most welcome step by the AFA, who obviously took great care in the presentation of their new edition. The new edition font is clear and easy to read, while the cover is a handsome glossy red abstract design. Inexpensive printing options have clearly advanced a great deal in the last 20 years!


The content in the 2nd edition is unchanged, as far as I could tell. The translator’s 1988 preface is still there, providing a good, beginner-friendly introduction to this 1000-year-old astrology text. In the introduction, Holden actually gives a summary of the history of astrology, placing Al-Khayyat’s book in proper historical context. The book is suitable for intermediate astrology students, since some previous knowledge of concepts like triplicity rulers, for instance, is assumed. An excellent text on natal astrology according to the Arabs.

Contents & Structure

The Judgments of Nativities starts with material on rearing of children and the length of life; the traditional astrologers, including Al-Khayyat, always started their analysis by determining whether the native will survive infancy, and if so, the length of his life. There is also material on the native’s quality of mind (what we might call personality today), and several example charts apparently taken from Greek sources. The examples illustrate the triplicity lord method, indicating the success of the native by looking at the condition of the sect ruler’s triplicity lords.

Al-Khayyat then goes house by house to determine the quality of the different areas of the life. There are many aphorisms sprinkled throughout this portion of the text with a distinct Hellenistic provenance, such as “if any one of the fortunes is in the 11th sign from the Part of Fortune, it signifies the acquisition of money and of assets from good things.” There is also some interesting material on determining the parents’ length of life.

Chapters 39-50 are cookbook style materials on the placement of the planets in the houses and signs, with some material on the placement of the Part of Fortune. The latter materials appear to be specific to profection of the Part of Fortune, rather than just natal placements.

There are some excellent appendixes in this text. Appendix I goes through the many example horoscopes provided in the text, figuring out their approximate dates (they are from the 1st and 5th/6th centuries AD. Appendix II is from Masha’allah’s Book of Nativities, giving additional techniques for calculating the native’s length of life, so the reader can compare Al-Khayyat and Masha’allah’s methods, which are very similar, but not identical.


As always, James Holden’s translation is clear and easy to read, bringing this old text closer to modern readers. Because of Al-Khayyat’s thorough and succinct approach, this text is highly recommended for astrologers who want to get started with traditional natal astrology. An extremely accessible and cohesive text.


The Judgments of Nativities

Abu ‘Ali Al-Khayyat, translated by James H. Holden, M.A.

American Federation of Astrologers, 2008, 146 pages, paperback.

USD 23.95

Available from,, and

Book Review: Horary Astrology Re-Examined (Barbara Dunn)

May 3, 2009 by  

Book Review: Horary Astrology Re-Examined by Barbara Dunn

Reading Horary Astrology Re-Examined brought me back to the days when I was just beginning to learn horary, with Olivia Barclay’s book, Horary Astrology Rediscovered, at my side.  Dunn is a student of traditional astrologer Olivia Barclay, and Horary Astrology Re-Examined is similar to Barclay’s book, in that it is a compendium of traditional quotations on various topics from many authors.  Essentially, Dunn appears to have updated Barclay’s book with the new translations that had been obscure or unavailable when Barclay published her book in 1997.  Dunn has taken over Barclay’s horary course a few years ago, and it appears that in writing Horary Astrology Re-Examined, she has updated the course book as well.


This is perhaps the most thorough survey of traditional thought on horary astrology.  However, precisely because of its depth and breadth, I would not recommend this for a beginning horary astrologer.  The book is not written especially didactically, “soup to nuts,” but rather gives the reader absolutely everything, and more, right from the start.  Horary Astrology Re-Examined is more like a compendium of horary.  For the intermediate to advanced practitioner, Dunn’s book is a treasure trove of information, with seemingly everything traditional ever written about horary in one book.  It is best used as an encyclopedia when one wants to understand a specific topic in depth, with footnotes and references to primary sources galore.

Contents & Structure

Horary Astrology Re-Examined is organized into two major parts; Part I is methodology and doctrine, and Part II contains house-specific questions and judgments.

The Introduction sets out the author’s argument for traditional astrology, which is portrayed as losing ground to the new age facsimile of the art.  I am not convinced this is the case, as traditional astrology has come a long way just in the last decade, but Dunn’s basic hypothesis is sound, in that she views traditional astrology as a valuable, internally cohesive system that can be used for accurate methods of prediction.  The introduction is followed by a dozen or so pages of Terms of Art, which the student should understand as they learn horary.

Part I starts with a chapter about the planets; their nature, joys, friendships, associations (Morin, Lilly, and Abu Ma’shar), and rulership of the days and hours.  Chapter 2 describes the houses, the house systems, the nature of the quadrants and directions, and the nature of the angles/succedent/cadent houses.  There is a good-sized listing of the meaning of each house, drawn from the traditional authors (Lilly, Al Biruni, Morin, and Ptolemy).  This is not a substitute for a good book on the houses, such as Deb Houlding’s text, but is a very good start.  Included is a good discussion of the triplicity rulers of the houses, a natal technique.

Chapter 3 discusses the signs of the zodiac, their divisions, and associations with parts of the body, the seasons, colors, directions, fertility, places (for lost objects), and geographical locations.  Chapter 4 covers planetary sect, hayyiz, and the way these concepts are used in natal horoscopes, including the notions of oriental and occidental planets.  Chapter 5 explains planetary movement and aspects, antiscia, beholding, and orbs.  Oddly, not much time is spent on the nature of the major aspects, the heart and soul of horary, specifically the ways in which they can bring about perfection (square brings perfection with difficulty, for example, while the trine does so with ease).  The material on planetary movements is quite valuable, and unique, in the sense that no one has brought together this material as comprehensively as the author.  Concepts discussed include committing disposition – though we are never told what disposition is, exactly – pushing nature, pushing power, pushing two natures, pushing counsel, and the uses of a separating aspect.  There is also some discussion of void of course and feral Moon.

Chapter 6 deals with essential dignities, discussing domicile, exaltation, triplicity, term, and face, according to each of the ancient sources.  The author then gives information on the debilities of detriment, fall, and peregrination.  In the interest of comprehensiveness, it would have been most useful to include Ibn Ezra’s description of the dignities, both here and in the following chapter. 

Chapter 7 continues this theme with a discussion of accidental dignities and debilities, with a heavy emphasis on William Lilly’s point scoring tables, which apparently continue to exert fascination over astrologers despite their limited utility in practice.  There is also a table detailing the nature of the planets when occidental and oriental.  The table dates from the 1930s edition of Al Biruni’s treatise on astrology, and, in my humble opinion, should have been reset for easier reading.  A section on accidental dignity and debility follows, discussing each of the factors that strengthens or weakens a planet, depending on its position in the horoscope and relative to other planets.   Chapter 7 closes with a wealth horary by Lilly, demonstrating Lilly’s checklist of essential and accidental conditions of each planet. 

Chapters 8 and 9 address reception and almutens, respectively.  Both are very well presented, in that they summarize and quote the traditional authors on these multi-faceted topics.  Almutens are not as important in horary as in other branches of astrology, but they are important to know and understand.  A thirty-page chapter on signification follows, dedicated to the method for selecting the correct significator(s) in a horary chart.  There is a good discussion of natural significators, which tend to be under-utilized in today’s practice of horary.  Another good portion of the chapter is the section on planets and their role in appearance, another forgotten but highly effective horary technique.

A chapter on Considerations before Judgment is a good summary of the various pre-judgment cautions given in traditional texts.  Chapter 12, on The Question, is a particularly welcome and unique addition to this book.  Most books gloss over the importance of asking the question properly, but the author does not skip this rather unglamorous part of the proceedings.  An added bonus is a rather amusing deconstruction of a psychological horary analysis.  Chapter 13 gives a big picture view of how to judge a chart, including a section on timing.

Chapters 14 and 15 are titled “The Possibility of the Matter Propounded,” and “The Impossibility of the Matter Propounded,” respectively, and since they match the subtitle of the book, we can assume they form the center of the author’s work.  The chapters essentially summarize the ways that outcomes can perfect or fail to perfect; the assiduous student could create a checklist for each chapter and refer to it when judging a chart.  The more experienced astrologer may not find these chapters as useful, but they are essential to learning to read horoscopes.

Part II focuses on the specific horary types for some of the more popular houses; the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 10th houses are detailed.  It is unclear why, with her obvious penchant for thoroughness and completeness, the author did not address the less riveting but still essential 1st, 3rd, 8th, 9th, 11th, and 12th houses, especially given that the traditional authors usually described them all.  The houses that are not addressed are the ones that have subtle meanings, and that give students the greatest trouble, so one would think that a comprehensive approach would be worthwhile.  The houses that are covered are done very well, with a detailed description of some of the criteria of the ancients, and supplemented with the author’s own examples. 

The book wraps up with an excellent bibliography and index.


An excellent book to round out one’s horary collection.  This is not the book to start with, due to its sheer comprehensiveness, and one would be better off starting with something a bit pithier.  Olivia Barclay’s book is useful, and, of course, John Frawley’s Horary Textbook is a great introductory text.  The attraction of Horary Astrology Re-Examined is that it encourages the reader to peruse the primary sources for himself, rather than rely on restatements by modern authors.  The frequent footnotes and rich bibliography make it easy to discover the sources for oneself.  Highly recommended.


Horary Astrology Re-Examined: The Possibility or Impossibility of the Matter Propounded

By Barbara Dunn

The Wessex Astrologer, 2009, 536 pages, paperback.

28.00 GBP (44.00 USD),,,

Book Review: The Art and Practice of Geomancy (John Michael Greer)

April 26, 2009 by  

The Art and Practice of Geomancy - The Fortuneteller

Geomancy is a divinatory practice heavily influenced by astrology, and I wanted to shine a spotlight on a topic with which few astrologers are familiar. Like astrology, geomancy came to Europe from the Arab world, where it was called khatt al-raml, “cutting the sand.” Geomancy uses the random generation of marks or dots to create a four-line figure, one line for each of the four elements. The divinatory meaning of the figure depends on the number and arrangement of the dots. The most common way to perform a geomantic reading is to generate fifteen such figures, the first twelve of which are assigned to houses, just as in an astrological chart. The remaining three figures summarize the situation asked about.


The Art and Practice of Geomancy is perhaps the most comprehensive book on the subject available today. With a basic understanding of astrological principles, one can use geomancy with ease, though I am of the opinion that astrology proper provides a richer, more nuanced symbolism than the somewhat abbreviated version used in geomancy. The author provides numerous ways to interpret the geomantic chart to extract the maximum information possible, so whatever information a geomantic reading provides, the reader can make the most of it using this book. There is also some information on geomantic magic and invoking spirits, which is not necessary to the practice of geomancy, but presented as a way of enhancing the divinatory experience. Personally, I would not go to those lengths to get an answer, but the reader’s mileage may well vary.

Contents & Structure

The Art and Practice of Geomancy consists of three parts: I) The Art of Geomancy, II) Geomantic Divination, and III) Geomantic Meditation and Magic.

Part I introduces the reader to the various way of practicing geomancy, giving real-life examples of the way the art had been used in the past. There is a good section on the history of geomancy, which discusses a possible link between the geomantic systems of equatorial Africa and their later adaptation by the Arabs. One conjectures that the astrological symbolism had been superimposed on geomancy by the Arabs once they had picked up astrology from the Greeks.

Chapters Two and Three contain information about the geomantic figures, followed by a list of the sixteen geomantic figures, with a detailed list of associations for each. For instance, the figure Acquisitio (Gain) contains information about its other names, a pictorial representation, keyword, quality (stable or mobile), planet, astrological sign, astrological house relationships (where Acquisitio is strengthened and where weakened), its outer and inner elements, its associated parts of the anatomy, body type, character type, colors, commentary, and divinatory meaning. This richness of meaning provides a useful divinatory alphabet for most questions.

Part II starts with the step-by-step instructions for conducting a geomantic reading. Because of the emphasis on magic in this book, one of the possible methods involves invoking planetary spirits relating to the topic of one’s question. Chapter Five shows the method of interpreting the fifteen figures, but the real fun for astrologers begins in Chapter Six, where the first twelve geomantic figures generated in a reading are arranged in a square astrological chart, one per house, and we are off to the races. The general themes of the houses are described in detail, though the astrologically-minded reader can get additional information in Deb Houlding’s Houses: Temples of the Sky. I don’t agree with every single house attribution in The Art and Practice of Geomancy, but the author’s method is generally traditionalist in nature, and I was delighted to see that that Greer does not assign either transformation or sex to the eighth house.

Chapter Six also contains some geomancy-specific techniques, which involve relating houses in the chart to one another for additional layers of divinatory meaning. Chapter Seven discusses advanced interpretive methods, such as geomantic readings used daily, weekly, monthly, or annually; life readings; finding locations and directions; timing; the geomantic/planetary hours (including a handy method of calculating the planetary hours in the day); determining names, and dealing with deceptive questions.

Part III, Geomantic Meditation and Magic, contains information not found in most astrological texts, so one gets the sense that this book is a rather different kettle of fish. Chapter Eight contains instructions for geomantic meditation and scrying, which of course are ancient practices that can be applied to methods other than geomancy. The author does give the reader the warning to test the spirits, which is sensible. Chapter Nine gets into magic proper, and provides instructions for creating geomantic talismans and gamahes. Chapter Ten gets into the ritual elements of geomantic magic, giving names of the planetary gods, intelligences, and spirits, and methods for invocation of one’s guardian genius.

The book closes with an appendix of the Orphic hymns, a classical collection of invocations of the Greek gods translated in the 18th century by Thomas Taylor. Included are also conjurations of the planetary intelligences.


The Art and Practice of Geomancy is a unique book on the topic that will undoubtedly become a classic in the field. It takes a common-sense approach to a long-forgotten subject, and covers all of the bases very thoroughly. The astrologer might find geomancy an easy adjunct to the astrological practice, as there is considerable overlap between the two systems. For beginning astrology students, Greer’s book can provide an excellent introduction to astrological basics from a traditional perspective, presented in a simple but substantive manner.


The Art and Practice of Geomancy: Divination, Magic, and Earth Wisdom of the Renaissance
By John Michael Greer
Weiser Books, 2009, 252 pages, paperback.
$18.95, available on

Astrology Book Review: Astrologia Gallica, Book 25 – Universal Constitutions of the Caelum (Jean-Baptiste Morin, trans. James Holden)

April 25, 2009 by  

Astrology Book Review: Astrologia Gallica 25, Morin

Book 25 of Morin’s Astrologia Gallica, a text on mundane astrology, is available for the first time in English, thanks to James Holden’s recent translation.   Mundane astrology, which focuses on predicting events of political and national/international magnitude, is a complex area of the art, one that few people have completely mastered.  The Universal Constitutions of the Caelum is a very coherent and practical treatise on the subject, and English-speaking astrologers everywhere should rejoice that it is finally available to them.  An abbreviated version of Book 25 was translated into French by astrologer Jean Hieroz in 1946, and until now, Hieroz’s was the only non-Latin version available.  In contrast to modern astrologers of the time, who were blindsided by WWII, Hieroz used Morin’s methods to correctly predict the war, and his 1939 article for an astrological journal is included in Holden’s translation as an Appendix.


The Universal Constitutions of the Caelum is not necessarily an introductory text, in that it assumes the reader’s familiarity with numerous astrological terms and concepts.  However, the “how-to” methods of mundane analysis presented by Morin are straightforward and easy to apply.  This book is best read with a pen in hand, because Morin gives step-by-step instructions on interpreting a mundane horoscope.  As is typical for him, Morin gives many examples of his method; in conjunction with Jean Hieroz’s article on WWII, the reader can see for himself the application of Morin’s principles.  Similar to other Morin books, The Universal Constitutions of the Caelum deserves careful study.

Contents & Structure

Book 25 is separated into two parts; the first is the more theoretical one, while the second focuses on practical application of mundane methods.  However, there is a significant amount of overlap, which means that one should read the entire book, not just skip ahead to the “good parts”!

Part I begins with chapters setting forth the basic concepts of mundane astrology, starting with a discussion of its validity.  Morin’s key concepts include the doctrine of subordination of horoscopes; the notion that mundane horoscopes do not act alone, but like nesting dolls, they are a manifestation of a larger cycle.  Therefore, the reader is directed to examine the lunations preceding an Aries Ingress, for example, and look for repeating themes among the horoscopes.

In Part I, Chapters 7 and 8, Morin discusses the specific characteristics of eclipses and planetary conjunction horoscopes.  In Chapter 9 and subsequent chapters in Part I, he gives guidance on interpretation of mundane horoscopes. 

The first step is to select ruler(s) of the horoscope, which are those planets that are especially powerful, and whose reemergence in subordinate horoscopes provide timing of the potentials promised earlier.  Here, Morin gives an interesting technique of ruler selection; focusing on the angle subsequent to the Primary Point of a horoscope.  For instance, an Aries Ingress with the Sun in the 12th house would have the Ascendant as the angle, and its rulers, occupants, and aspects would all be essential to determining the ruler – and thus the main theme — of the Ingress.

Chapters 11 and 12 provide details on the places where a mundane horoscope’s promise would most likely manifest, and the specific times in which the events will occur.  In his prediction of WWII, Jean Hieroz utilized the latter methods with consummate skill, and comparing Morin’s instructions with Hieroz’s application is most instructive.  Chapters 14 and 15 focus on the kinds of events one might expect with certain rulers (e.g.: Saturn and Mars ruling the mundane horoscope are bad, but fixed stars make them even worse).

Part II begins with a discussion of the elemental composition of mundane charts, and the planets’ behavior in signs of various elements.  This is especially important for weather prediction, a subset of mundane astrology.  Morin then goes on to emphasize the importance of the Aries Ingress as a description of a year’s events, with special attention to the rulers of the Ingress.  Chapter 4 is an excellent summary of the qualities of the planets when they are rulers of the year, with discussion of the fact that the luminaries can also be rulers of the horoscope, something the ancient astrologers did not address.

Chapters 5 -7 focus on the planetary qualities primarily for weather prediction, providing handy lists of planets in aspect and in various signs.  For example, Venus in Aries, as in the 2009 Aries Ingress, “under the sun beams produces humidity; when oriental, thunder and rains; when occidental, winds; when static, humidity.”

Chapter 8 gives an interesting list of aphorisms for determining events from the rulers’ motion; Morin considers all planets to bring rain when they are retrograde, for instance, though this tendency is emphasized when the planet is in a moist sign, a humid Lunar mansion, and in aspect with Venus or Mercury.  Chapters 10 and 11 are chock-full of aphorisms for further weather indications contained in the Aries Ingress and lunation horoscopes.  Chapter 13 provides guidance on comparing subordinate charts; such as that of an Ingress and a subsequent lunation.  Chapter 14 explores the intersection of place and horoscopes.  Chapter 15 gives guidelines for interpreting the appearance of comets.  First, one is to determine the planetary nature of a planet (mainly by its color), and then look at its position in the zodiac, interpreting the comet similarly to a planet in that sign.  Chapter 16 provides details on daily weather predictions, and some additional factors that go into such a specific prediction.

The Appendixes are particularly useful, giving a method for determining planetary strength, the WWII prediction of Jean Hieroz, WWI horoscopes, tables for the year 1625, and a list of the elemental qualities of the lunar mansions (and the mansions’ location).


A highly recommended text on mundane astrology.  The number of concrete guidelines and tips in this book justifies careful reading and re-reading.  James Holden’s translation, as always, is careful and thoughtful, with plenty of footnotes.  His preface is informative and places the book in appropriate context for the reader new to Morin.  A worthwhile addition to any astrologer’s library.


Astrologia Gallica Book Twenty-Five: The Universal Constitutions of the Caelum

By Jean-Baptiste Morin (trans. from the Latin by James Herschel Holden, M.A., Fellow of the American Federation of Astrologers)

American Federation of Astrologers, 2008, 241 pages, paperback.

$24.95 on and


Astrology Book Review: A Rectification Manual – The American Presidency (Regulus Astrology/Dr. H.)

April 18, 2009 by  

Scholar - Astrology Book Review

A Rectification Manual, 2nd ed., is an ambitious, no-holds-barred traditional astrology book on this often difficult subject.  Rectification is the process whereby an astrologer uses known facts about an individual (appearance, past life events, personality traits) to determine their birth time or even birthdate.  The pseudonymous author, Dr. H., rectified the horoscopes of all U.S. Presidents through George W. Bush, using traditional techniques and comprehensive life event databases. 

His goal is twofold; first, he wishes to have birth times rectified “within 30 seconds of accuracy for 90%” of the included horoscopes, so that the reader can rigorously test astrological techniques on reliable charts of well-documented individuals.  Second, his goal is to restore the rigorous methods of pre-20th century rectification to their rightful place.  He succeeds most impressively in both aims, producing perhaps the most rigorous and detailed book on traditional horoscope delineation, prediction, and rectification available today.  Gryphon Astrology has interviewed Dr. H., where he gave more information about his methods and projects.


Make no mistake about it; A Rectification Manual is an intermediate-to-advanced text.  Intermediate astrologers, especially those unfamiliar with traditional astrological techniques, will likely find plenty here that is new, but the author gives sufficient detail and examples that with a little effort and patience, one can follow along with ease.   The best way to approach A Rectification Manual is a a workbook, not only for rectification, but also for delineation and prediction once accurate birth data has been calculated. 

The author writes in the Preface how to use the book: “Choose a single President.  Read at least two biographies – one for the subject directly and another for a family member or other significant professional colleague.  Create an event database and work sequentially through delineation and prediction techniques outlined in Parts One and Two.  After recreating measurements presented in the rectification database, test additional events against the full battery of predictive techniques…There is no better way to learn astrology than to study actual people and past events.” Yes, it sounds like work, but the more one puts into this book, the more one will get out of it, with rich dividends.

Contents & Structure

A Rectification Manual is composed of two main sections; the first is delineation, predictive methods, and rectification methods, while the second contains empirical tests of hotly-contested astrological methods, and rectification details for each American president, a longevity prediction and significator table for each president, and trial rectification data for all of the First Ladies. 

Part I deals with Delineation, that is, the process by which one assesses the potentials in the natal horoscope.  Chapter 1, Planets in Signs, uses case studies to show the effects of planetary sign placement, with a special section devoted to the minor dignities of bounds/terms and dwads (2.5˚ divisions).  Chapter 2, Modern Planets, discusses the role of the outer planets in natal delineation (hint: it’s more of a bit part than a role), utilizing primary directions of the outers to show the ways in which they can be integrated into delineation. 

Chapter 3, Planets in Houses, discusses house systems and why they matter, concluding with a case study of Thomas Jefferson.  The author uses both quadrant houses, such as Alcabitius, and whole signs, similar to Robert Zoller’s approach.  Chapter 4, Arcus Vitae (“Arc of Life”), explores the method of determining an individual’s longevity using the hyleg/alcochoden method, and then finding the candidates for the anareta, or killing planet.  In traditional astrology, the primary direction of key points in the horoscope to the killing planet, or vice versa, determines the most likely time of death.

Part II describes various predictive methods available to the astrologer once the natal delineation is complete.  Chapter 5 deals with “The Problem of Under-specification.”  The author describes this as the problem of life events “improperly attributed to various predictive techniques because the modern predictive toolbox [consisting of transits, progressions, and solar arc directions] is incomplete.”  Here, the author explores the massive 1834 fire that destroyed a large portion of Andrew Jackson’s Nashville estate.  Dr. H. first uses modern techniques, then traditional methods to delineate the fire in Jackson’s horoscope.  Chapter 6, Temporal Indicators, uses several traditional methods, including differentiating between New Moon and Full Moon births, to describe the ways in which one’s characteristic traits or luck changes throughout one’s life. 

Chapter 7, Planetary Period Methods, explores the very old, accurate methods of dividing the life into several periods, each ruled by a planet.  The strength or weakness of the planet gives a broad-brush description of the given life period.  The author uses the triplicity ruler method, Firdaria, and planetary days and hours.  Chapter 8, Directions and Progressions, introduces Dr. H’s Primary Direction Sequence, generating a set of dates by computing the same primary direction with zero and full latitude for both the natal and the directed planets.  The dates correlate with key events corresponding with the natal promise of the planets in question. 

Chapter 9, Solar Returns: Profections and Time Lords, explores the technique of profections (assigning each year of life a whole-sign or equal-sign house, starting with the Ascendant), and the interlocking relationship between annual profections and the solar return.  Chapter 10, Solar Returns: Delineation and Prediction, describes the author’s findings on some popular variants of this predictive technique; precession and relocation.  He then goes on to show the steps of delineating the solar return and using it for timed predictions for the following year.  Chapter 11, Solar Returns: Arabic Parts describes the Parts’ use in prediction in the solar return, and also their role in rectification.  Because the Parts change very quickly, they are invaluable in determining the position of the Ascendant/Descendant axis.  There are 23 presidential nativities given in this chapter, including the Part of Fortune calculation for Richard Nixon.  Nixon’s Fortuna fell in the 12th natal house, showing “money from secret and illegal dealings.” (205)  The Part of Fortune was activated in the solar return for 1952, when Nixon was accused of conflicts of interest relating to an unreported campaign fund. 

Chapter 12, Lunar Nodes and Eclipses, are shown by the author to portend beginnings and endings, and so are some of the best predictive tools in astrology.  Their transits and those of the lunar nodes are useful for rectifying the angles of the horoscope.  Chapter 13, Transits, tests out the most useful transit aspects, orbs, and transiting planets’ contacts to planets, cusps, and parts. 

Part III gets to the titular subject of Rectification.  Chapter 14, Preparing the Event Database, walks the reader through the steps necessary to prepare a good list of life events by means of which rectification can occur.  Chapter 15, The Three Stages of Rectification, explains each of the key three steps of any rectification endeavor: Determining the Ascendant sign; calculating the ascending degree within 1-4 degrees; determining the exact degree and minute of the Ascendant.  Chapter 16, Rectification Case Studies, demonstrates the three rectification steps on five presidential nativities.  The Afterword shows the way in which nativities continue to work after death, for example through publications, or dramatic posthumous revelations, such as those about Thomas Jefferson’s relationship and children with his slave Sally Hemings.

The Appendixes comprise about one half of the Rectification Manual’s page count, to give you a sense of their importance.  Appendix A details the author’s study of directing planets through Egyptian and Ptolemaic bounds.  The Egyptian bounds come out the more accurate system.  Appendix B tests competing systems of calculating the Part of Fortune and Firdaria.  Appendix C, The Presidential Database, contains the rectified birth data of all of the U.S. Presidents through George W. Bush, and the 2008 Presidential nominees and their vice-presidents, while Appendix D details the rectified birth data of the Presidential spouses.  Finally, the author supplies a ten-page bibliography and handy biographical index.


This is an excellent study text for astrologers wishing to learn traditional techniques and see them in practice.  The ancient texts don’t give very detailed examples of the methods they describe, but this book fills much of that void, experimentally verifying the efficacy of competing methods.  A Rectification Manual works well as a drop-in reference book, too, for the more advanced reader.  For example, if one wishes to learn more about the interaction of solar returns and profections, one can turn to the apposite chapter and read up on that method and its application.  The author writes such that the chapters are largely self-contained – to the extent possible – making the book very useful for such mini-lessons.  Highly recommended.


A Rectification Manual – The American Presidency

By: Regulus Astrology LLC (Dr. H.)

Regulus Astrology (publisher), October 2008, 2nd edition, 791 pages


Available through 

(more information on the data presented in the book, including errata, is available on the Regulus Astrology website)

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.

Astrology Book Review: The Introduction to the Science of the Judgments of the Stars (Sahl Ibn Bishr/trans. James Herschel Holden)

December 26, 2008 by  

Another fascinating translation from James Herschel Holden, M.A., this time of a key horary and electional work by Sahl Ibn Bishr. The Introduction was written in the ninth century by the Court astrologer to the rulers of Baghdad during its heyday. It is a sourcebook for later Western horary astrologers, specifically Bonatti and William Lilly, both of whom borrowed liberally from the text. Holden translated this text from the 12th century Latin version, presumably the same version drawn upon by Bonatti when he wrote his Book of Astronomy 100 years later.


The Introduction is for intermediate astrologers, who are comfortable with the basic concepts of traditional horary and electional astrology. The beginner may easily be overwhelmed by the complex terminology Sahl uses to describe the various relationships between planets, such as deterioration, return, giving virtue, and other now-uncommon terms. However, a more skilled horary astrologer may also have difficulty with these terms, because they represent many subtle gradations of planetary strength and differences in relationship, which we are unaccustomed to making today. Reading this book will require an open mind, unencumbered by more modern variations on horary techniques and a willingness to think through the author’s reasoning. The time and effort invested will bear rich dividends of knowledge for the careful reader.

Contents & Structure

One feature of Sahl’s astrology that bears mention. As Holden notes in his thorough introduction, the whole sign method of house division is used. This means that the entire rising sign is the first house, though with special attention paid to the rising degree; that is, there is no distinction between the fourth house and the fourth sign of the chart.

The text is composed of five books. Book 1 is the introduction, common in many ancient astrological texts, which reiterates the basic building blocks of traditional astrology. The usual impulse of more practiced astrologers may be to skip these introductions, but they can be quite useful in familiarizing the reader with terms that the author later takes for granted, that may be unique to that author. For example, today we consider the signs Gemini, Leo, and Virgo barren; Sahl lists Aries, Leo, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Capricorn as the sterile signs. We can see here that the tradition, while unchanging in its broad strokes, was also changeable, and the details were not identical from place to place and throughout history. The introduction also lists the meaning of each house,the aspects, and the relationships among the planets, such as translation of light, separation, reception, and others.

Book 2 is called “The 50 Precepts,” and contains a list of the meanings of planetary behavior and relationships. As we see often in older astrological texts, the behavior of the planets takes on almost anthropomorphic qualities with a high level of specificity about the situation. For example, Precept 48 says that a planet in its first station about to go retrograde signifies the destruction, tardiness, and dissolution of the matter, while the second station “signifies the renewal of things and their suitability and strength or directness.” Today, astrologers might take note of the planet being in station, but may fail to tease out the specific nature of the situation with the kind of detail we see in Sahl.

Book 3 is called “Questions or the Book of Judgments of the Arabs,” which contains methods of answering specific horary questions arranged by houses. There is a heavy emphasis on seventh house matters; women, commerce, theft, and wars, and a lengthy series of questions on letters, their senders and recipients, their contents, and rumors. The 21st-century reader will get a strong sense that we are in a different place and time, when we get to the section entitled “If a Slain Person Will Be Avenged or Not.”

Book 4 is entitled “The Book of Elections,” and contains some good information on the natures of the signs (cardinal, fixed, and mutable), and their influence on elected events. There is also a good section on the impediments of the Moon to watch out for when calculating elections. The usual topics are covered, such as travel, war, medicine, and the buying and manumission of slaves – the latter may not seem very appropriate today, but we could likely use similar electional rules for purchasing animals, whether as pets or working beasts.

Book 5, entitled “The Book of Times,” provides additional guidance on horary and electional astrology, mixed together. It is kind of a grab bag of useful astrological knowledge that did not fit readily into the other books. There is also an appendix on questions about visions or dreams, which helps the astrologer identify and interpret a questioner’s dream.


Holden’s translation is very lucid and accessible, as always, in easily understandable language. It is no small task to make a 1200-year-old text reader friendly, but the translator does so with aplomb and copious but straight-to-the-point footnotes. He frequently refers to parallel passages in Bonatti, and points out where the two differ. A highly recommended source text for fans of traditional astrology, and those curious about the source of more recent horary writers’ material.


The Introduction to the Science of the Judgments of the Stars

By: Sahl Ibn Bishr (author), and James Herschel Holden, M.A., trans.

American Federation of Astrologers, 2008

24.95 USD

Available at and

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