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.

Briefly…

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.

Observations

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.

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A Rectification Manual – The American Presidency

By: Regulus Astrology LLC (Dr. H.)

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

$59.95

Available through regulus-astrology.com 

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

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.

Briefly…

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.

Observations

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.

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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 astrologers.com and astroamerica.com.

Astrology Book Review: The Art of Forecasting Using Solar Returns (Anthony Louis)

October 19, 2008 by  

I am delighted that there is now a book about Solar Returns written – mostly – from a traditional perspective, but for a modern audience. Anthony Louis’s book is grounded in tradition, specifically in Jean-Baptiste Morin’s book on Solar Returns (readers interested in going straight to the source can purchase an English translation of Morin’s book from the AFA), but there is plenty of space given to modern techniques, including minor aspects, outer planets, and secondary progressions.

Briefly…

The Art of Forecasting Using Solar Returns is chock-full of techniques for astrologers to try, summarized handily along the way. Morin alone has 31 aphorisms for judging the Solar Returns, so a less organized book would be overwhelming. The bedrock of the traditional approach is to use the natal horoscope in conjunction with the Solar Return, and Louis does this throughout the book. Louis also summarizes some of the modern approaches to Solar Returns, so there is a great deal of diverse information packed into this 300-page book. As mentioned above, Louis embraces modern elements like outer planets, but his method is nearly always grounded in the tradition. Highly recommended to all but the newest astrological beginners.

Contents & Structure

Louis introduces the Solar Returns with a chapter on basic concepts, including planetary characteristics, the nature of fixed stars, and essential terminology. The following chapter summarizes some basic elements of the Solar Return, as demonstrated through the work of 20th century astrologer, Alexandre Volguine. Some of Volguine’s techniques are traditional (“Never interpret the Solar Return in isolation”), others are more modern, originating with Morin (“…cast the Solar Return chart for the actual location of the individual at the moment the Sun returns to its natal position.”), but the chapter gives a good summary of the technical knobs that the astrologer can twiddle when experimenting with Solar Returns.

The third chapter provides a top-notch explanation of the meaning of the Solar Return houses superimposed on the natal houses. For instance, the Return Ascendant in the natal 10th house shows a year focused on the mother, career, reputation, and other 10th house matters. The chapter includes a summary of house meanings from traditional and modern sources, including the author’s own experience. The author also discusses the planets’ annual strength based on essential dignity.

The fourth chapter uses the Pope and Salvador Dali’s horoscopes to contrast the technique of non-precessed Return charts with precessed Return charts (a modern technique favored by some astrologers). The fifth chapter discusses the technique in detail, and discusses Marc Penfield’s use of this method, along with other techniquest favored by Penfield.

Chapter six discusses the meaning of the Return Ascendant, and the author shows a personal example of his solar return for the year his mother died prematurely. This tragic incident was also prefigured by several eclipses, and the author discusses their role in indicating his mother’s death. The following chapter discusses Emerson’s Point of Death, and its use in timing of the native’s demise. Louis uses several example charts and a method of progressing the Solar Return to show the timing of events during the year.

Chapter eight delineates Morin’s contributions, and it is here that the reader can find true gems of technique. Chapter nine discusses Morin’s techniques with his returns at the time of his death, which he had correctly predicted. This chapter includes Morin’s 12 Steps for Judging a Revolution – the old term for a Return chart. Today’s astrologers only use a few of his techniques, but they are all useful and give the astrologer additional information about the upcoming year or month.

The next chapter summarizes Morin’s 31 aphorisms for judging Revolutions. Judging a solar return using all of Morin’s methods will thus take a few hours, especially when one is just familiarizing oneself with Morin’s methods. However, the resulting predictions are especially rich and descriptive, and in my view, worth the effort. Chapter eleven compares and contrasts the Solar Returns of John Lennon and Bob Dylan, for the years of their death and major motorcycle accident, respectively.

Chapter twelve discusses some recent books on Solar Returns, which are interesting, but to me, as a traditional astrologer, not quite as compelling as the older material presented in the book. A fascinating tidbit is Mary Fortier Shea’s observation of the cyclical nature of Solar Return sign placement, and her consequent focus on house placements in the Return chart. Louis uses an example of the Progressed Annual Meridian technique, which shows the method of timing events using the progressed MC of the Solar Return chart.

Chapter thirteen shows the method of casting solar returns for people with an unknown birth time. Louis uses a sunrise natal chart and generates a Solar Return from it. Chapter fourteen gives a cookbook of aspects in the Solar Return, divided into positive and negative aspects for each pairing, and including the outer planets. Chapter fifteen, “Pulling It All Together” does just that, summarizing all of the key factors you might consider when analyzing a Solar Return. There is enough here to keep you busy for half a day with a single Solar Return, but that speaks to the depth and richness of this book.

Observations

The Art of Forecasting Using Solar Returns is a highly recommended modern work leaning heavily on traditional predictive methods. Louis is a very organized, methodical writer, and it shows in his agile handling of a complex topic. He all but takes the reader by the hand and walks her through the thicket of techniques. As a traditional astrologer, I tended to gloss over the modern astrology parts of the book, and went straight to the hairy bits, like Morin’s 31 Aphorisms. I am sure this condition is treatable, however. Regardless of one’s area of interest and expertise level, there is enough in this information-packed volume to keep one exploring and experimenting for years.

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The Art of Forecasting Using Solar Returns

By: Anthony Louis

The Wessex Astrologer, 2008

20 GBP (about 37 USD at the time of writing)

Available at amazon.com, wessexastrologer.com, and astroamerica.com

Astrology Book Review: The Consultation Chart (by Wanda Sellar)

September 3, 2008 by  

The practice of casting a horoscope for the moment of the consultation is quite ancient, though until now, there has not been a full-length book devoted to the subject. It is fairly rare to see an astrologer using this method today, though when I first started learning about astrology, I thought it was common practice!

The first astrologer I ever consulted was a very hip and alternative-looking lady with a sparkly purple sweater and a laptop in Seattle, Washington. I sat down at her table at the local New Age shop, not knowing what to expect. She pulled up a chart on her computer and started telling me why I had come to see her. I confirmed her analysis of my situation, and she answered my question based on the chart, pulled a few tarot cards for good measure, and sent me on my way (her prediction was correct, by the way). This experience obviously skewed my impression of what a typical astrological consultation entailed, with the result that I was hooked on predictive techniques from Day One.

Wanda Sellar describes a very similar procedure, sans tarot cards. She casts a chart for the moment the astrologer and client meet, with the ascendant and ascendant ruler of the chart representing the client, her mental and emotional state, and specific concerns. At this point, the consultation chart reading looks very similar to a horary reading, whereby applying aspects represent the future, and separating aspects show past events. In fact, one might say that the consultation chart is a horary chart with the question unknown to the astrologer. Sellar’s book proposes to teach the reader just how to interpret a chart with two unknowns; the question and the outcome.

Briefly…

The Consultation Chart is a terrific introduction to this ancient method. Make no mistake about it; the author uses modern house meanings, all of the outer planets, including Chiron, and sometimes takes a psychological approach to the chart. In that sense, The Consultation Chart is a modern astrology book that teaches an ancient method. The book contains thorough explanations of the meaning of the ascendant, planetary movement, planetary house and assigned positions, and detailed house meanings, all in the context of the consultation horoscope.

The most absorbing part of the book are the case histories, forming about one third of the volume. The author’s interpretations are crisp and succinct, helping the reader understand how the author arrived at her conclusion. There is a lovely assortment of various horoscopes for our study, including a chapter on “spooks,” showing consultation charts of clients asking about family members and loved ones beyond the grave.

A book that is highly recommended both for traditional and modern astrologers; the consultation chart method has much to recommend it for speed and accuracy. In Wanda Sellar, the method has found an experienced and gifted proponent.

Contents and Structure

Chapter 1 plunges the reader right into interpretation of the ascendant sign of the consultation chart, followed by a checklist of observations about the ascendant ruler, which will help the astrologer understand what is going on with the client. We are then briefly introduced to the planetary dignities.

Chapter 2 is a brief overview of the way planets interact, much like we would find in an explanation of basic horary concepts such as combustion, prohibition, and the somewhat controversial considerations before judgment. Chapters 3 through 5 give us a detailed tour of the planets and their meaning in the signs. The author uses the planetary dignities to assess the strength of the planet, or whoever the planet represents (a client, their significant other etc.), a more traditional approach. In chapter 5, outer planets are treated as something between full-fledged planets and fixed stars, one example of the blending of traditional and modern approaches we see frequently in this book.

Chapter 6 discusses the nodes and Chiron. Chapter 7 is a detailed explanation of each House, along with a short description of the meaning of each planet in the houses. The houses are interpreted with both modern and traditional meanings. Following are six chapters on case histories; career questions, health concerns, relationships, spooks, consultation/natal horoscopes together, and interpreting the turned chart.

In the examples provided, the author seems to take a more traditionalist approach, though she does use the minor aspects, with a stronger emphasis on the traditional house meanings. It is very instructive to see an experienced astrologer working through a chart where she has very little background knowledge of the situation. That takes confidence and serious astrological chops, both of which are evident throughout the book.

Observations

Wanda Sellar’s book is very timely, in that it gives astrologers an easy way to incorporate a traditional method into their practice, with both an increase in client satisfaction and accuracy. The consultation chart is very clear and efficient, and often cuts right through to the client’s real concerns. It takes practice to become good at this method, as the astrologer’s usually reading the chart on the fly, right there in front of the client. The Consultation Chart gives the reader everything they need to start working with the consultation chart themselves.

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The Consultation Chart: A Guide to What It Is and How to Use It

By: Wanda Sellar

Wessex Astrologer, 2001

14.50 GBP (about double in USD)

Available from amazon.com, astroamerica.com, and wessexastrologer.com