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

Astrologer Interview: James H. Holden (Part 2)

September 4, 2008 by  

This is the second part of an interview with translator James Herschel Holden, an astrological author and translator.  If you are just joining us, read Part 1 of the interview here.

NG: You have a book that just came out, The Five Medieval Astrologers [read the Gryphon Astrology review], and you have picked the very books that I would have wanted in that one book. I’ve always wanted to read The Book of Flowers, but as far as I know it doesn’t exist in English right now other than in your translation.

JH: Well, this is true, but if you read the preface you could see that I actually translated that thing a long time ago. It’s been sitting here in my house and I never had a chance to get it published until recently. And when the executive secretary of the AFA said: “Jim, have you got any books that we can publish?” I said: “Yeah, I’ve got some.”

And I thought immediately we can put The Book of Flowers in there because I think the thing’s interesting. If you’re interested in mundane, I think we’re [AFA] going to publish a book in a few months that will probably interest you. I have translated half a dozen or so of the Jean-Baptiste Morin books from his Astrologia Gallica. Book 25, I have translated that; it’s on mundane and meteorological astrology.

NG: Other than mundane astrology, my other favorite topic is weather astrology, so I’m looking forward to it.

JH: You’d probably like that book, and I would think that maybe by October we may have it published. Right now, we’re working on Sahl’s book on horary and elections. And also, I have translated [Astrologia Gallica] Book 16 on aspects and Book 17 on astrological houses. Both of those will be published later this summer.

When they publish Book 25, we will have nearly all the books from 13 down to the end. The last book, number 26, is on horary astrology, and elections. And I’ve translated the first half of that. And I don’t know whether I’m even going to finish it or not. Morin didn’t like horary astrology. He thought it was silly rubbish that the Arabs had invented. I have a great deal of respect for Morin. A lot of his stuff is good and his Astrologia Gallica is good. But if you think about it, the main emphasis in the Morin Method is on what you would call accidental significators, that is, rulers of houses and things like that, rather than on universal significators.

For example, if you read some of the older books, you find that Mars rules warriors and Venus rules women, and so on like that. And that if you have a chart and you’re reading the thing. and you want to know something about a woman, well you look at Venus. And like if it’s a marriage question, well, look at Venus. Well, Morin says, No, look at the seventh house. See what’s in the seventh!

See what the ruler of the seventh is and how it’s related to all the other planets, then you can look at the fifth house too, but look at the seventh mainly. And what he’s doing that he didn’t seem to understand, is that he’s applying the horary method to natal astrology, because that is exactly what you do in horary if somebody comes in and says; “I have a question about my son,” what do you do? You look at the fifth house. And this is precisely what Morin says to do in reading a natal chart. If you want to know something about money look at [house] two. If you want to know something about marriage and business relations and open enemies you look at [house] seven and so on like that.

And this is exactly the horary method, and yet he says horary doesn’t work. But the reason he said that was two-fold. First, though, he didn’t know anything about the history of astrology. People didn’t in those days.

The old standard was Ptolemy, and they didn’t know there was anything else. And most of the books that were available were books that had been translated from Arabic in the 12th century, and he read those things, and he knew that those books had been written by Arabs. Morin didn’t like the Arabs because he was a devout Catholic, and those people, to him, were infidels. Also, Ptolemy never mentions horary astrology any place in the Tetrabiblos. So plainly it must have been invented by those wicked Arabs.

I think that this is one thing that sort of illustrates the advantage of knowing something about the history of the art. If you know the overall history of astrology, you know where the different techniques came from; you realize that people were making horary charts back in the days when astrology was a Greek science. And that it was medieval, and it wasn’t something the Arabs invented. Arab astrology is basically Greek astrology, because if you read my history book, in the 8th and 9th century Arabs got hold of Greek books on astrology and translated them into Arabic and that’s where they learned the business.

But Morin didn’t know that. And in one place, I think it’s maybe it’s in Book 16 or 17 some place, he even accuses Firmicus Maternus of having copied the Arabs. Well, Firmicus lived in the 4th century, and the Arabs didn’t know anything about astrology till the 8th century. So that didn’t make any sense, but like I said, he plain and simply didn’t know the history of the thing. Nobody did in his day. It wasn’t that he was ignorant and other people were aware, because it hadn’t been studied. This is why I think that it’s important to know something about the history.

Now back to The Five Medieval Astrologers. I had gotten a copy, I guess thirty, forty years ago of a 17th century book that had translations of the three Centiloquies in it. And I’ve been using that all along but I got to thinking, well, if we’re going to put The Book of Flowers out, well, maybe we ought to print all three of the Centiloquies too, because otherwise, let’s say you wanted the Centiloquy of Hermes where would you have found it?

You would have had to have located some old, out of print book or something to get the thing. Henry Coley had translated all three of them, and they’re in his book that was published about 1660 or the late 1600’s. And you can get a copy of that. Maybe you’ve got one. You can get a copy of his book.

NG: I did, before yours came out, but yours is much better, because he translated, but often he just paraphrased and it’s not the same.

JH: He not only paraphrased, but he actually left out about a fourth of it. He didn’t even have it all in there. And that one’s hard to read; I think the Latin’s bad. You can see in the footnotes that I had to struggle with part of it, too. Anyway, I thought to myself it would be nice to have all three of those things in one place. And then also there was The Hundred and Fifty Propositions of al-Mansur, which I don’t know where you’d ever find that. I have never seen it any place, so I thought we’re going to put all this together, and if anybody is interested in this old stuff, there it is all in one book.

NG: That’s wonderful. I’m really glad that you did, because I think a lot of people just don’t know it’s out there.

JH: I guess you read the little thing I put down there about why would anybody want to read a thousand year old book. But anyway, some of these books that I put out, well, I have to think about what Mark Twain said about a book once. “ This is a good book for people that like this kind of a book.”

[Read Part 3 of the interview with James H. Holden.]

Astrologer Interview: James H. Holden (Part 1)

September 2, 2008 by  

Last month, I spoke with James Herschel Holden, M.A., author of A History of Horoscopic Astrology (now in its 2nd edition), and translator of countless astrological texts, including a dozen or so by Jean Baptiste Morin, and texts by famed astrologers such as Sahl ibn Bishr, Albumasar, Abu ‘Ali, and Masha’allah.   Mr. Holden has been Research Director of the American Federation of Astrologers since 1982.

NG: What got you interested in the history of astrology and how does one kind of get into working with these texts as you have?

JH: Well, all my life I’ve been interested in history, history of everything. When I was in school I didn’t care anything about modern history but I was interested in ancient history. If you say why was that, the answer is I don’t know; that’s just the way I was. And I guess it was perhaps a little exotic, and so it appealed to me more than every day things that you see around you.

And when I first learned something about astrology; I got interested in where it came from, how it got started, and that led me back to the origins of it in the old books and so on

I was about eighteen when I ran across a translation of Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos and I read that. And then about the same time I found a Latin text of Julius Firmicus Maternus. And since I could read Latin, that was another one that sort of whetted my appetite for the old stuff.

NG: So you were hooked. Is there a particular era in the history of astrology that you find interesting? It sounds like you’re very interested in the ancient texts, even before the medieval era, is that accurate?

JH: Well, not to the exclusion of anything else. I would say that I’m interested in all periods of astrology, except maybe what somebody thought up last month. I can say that I’ve been more interested in the older things than I have in a few of the modern things that have come up. But I don’t have any particular [favorite] period. If you’ve got my history book [History of Astrology, 2nd Ed., AFA] you saw how it was divided up into sections.

And each section in that is interesting to me; I’m interested in the classical section, also in the medieval section, what the Arabs had to say, and early modern, and so on. And there’s a whole lot of material to read in each one of those eras.

NG: I saw you have a new edition of your History of Astrology. I know it’s one of those books that it seems everybody I know has it and has read it.

JH: Well, I hope they like it. That’s the distillation of many years of reading about astrology and thinking about it. And you asked the question about the 2nd Edition whether there was any significant change, and I guess the answer is No

What had happened, is that the first one sold out, and we had noticed maybe as many as eight or ten typographical errors in it; most of them trivial, so we had a chance to correct those, and I was also able to correct some omissions that were in the 1st Edition. One of them was rather significant. Being a member of the American Federation of Astrologers, I had written that 1st Edition and never even mentioned our President, Doris Chase Doane.

I just forgot about it. I think the reason is that of the modern people that were alive today, or we’ll say the 20th century people, I was trying to think of those who had done something a little bit different or had acquired some notoriety in recent years or something. And Doris wrote an awful lot of books, but she hadn’t written any very recently at the time that I was putting that history together, and for some reason I just didn’t think of her. And I know the lady personally, or rather knew her. She passed away a couple years ago but, this is one of those things you slap yourself with your hand on the forehead, and you think how in the world could I have forgotten her.

In the 2nd Edition Doris is in there, and also I had left out three or four Europeans that I think were of some importance, and I simply forgot them the same way. So they’re in there now. And one of my friends in Greece, Thomas Gazis, was kind enough to rewrite the whole section on modern Greek Astrology, so that’s revised from the 1st Edition.

And I have a little bit more information about astrology in other countries. And of course in the ten years that went by, some of the people mentioned in the 1st Edition had passed away, so I’ve got their death dates in there.

I think there’s five hundred and some odd [people] in there. And so percentage wise…leaving those few out was a small error, but I regretted it.

NG: What do you think are some of the biggest changes in our knowledge, what we’ve learned in the last ten or twenty years that we didn’t know about the history of astrology before?

JH: I would say that maybe going back as far as thirty years ago we began to get some old books, and I’m talking about English speaking countries, I think what I’m saying is largely true of foreign countries too. But in this country, if you go back about thirty years, about the only old book you could get was Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos. And many astrologers, not being aware that anything else existed, assumed that Ptolemy invented astrology and that everything that was original about it was in that book, which isn’t true.

Ptolemy was a science writer. He was like Isaac Asimov who wrote books on practically everything. I suspect that Ptolemy had been hired by some rich man who said: “I’ve got a nice, private library in my house and I’d like to have some books on the sciences. And I’ll pay you good if you’ll write them.” So Ptolemy wrote him a book on astronomy, and he wrote one on geography, and he wrote on two or three other subjects.

And then the man said: “Oh, and astrology; write something on astrology.” So Ptolemy wrote something on astrology. But if you look in the very first chapter of the Tetrabiblos, Ptolemy says he has left out a whole lot of what was current in his lifetime, and he said: “My book is not complete, I’ve left out a whole lot of things because it’s a big subject and if I wanted to put everything in it, it would be a whole lot bigger book.” Why, I think hardly any astrologer after his time ever bothered to read that part of it. Most of them assumed that he was first so he must have invented the whole thing.

For example, there was a man who was a professional astrologer, named Vettius Valens who was living in Alexandria from about 150 to 175 AD, which would have overlapped Ptolemy’s lifetime. He didn’t know Ptolemy and never mentions him once.

I’ve written a paper on this that hasn’t been published yet, but I think what happened is that Ptolemy wrote his books for a client or a patron whose name was Syrus. All Ptolemy’s books are addressed to a man named Syrus who is otherwise totally unknown.

When he finished he gave all the books to Syrus, the guy stuck them on the shelf, and they sat there for 150 years. They were not published or made available to the general public until around 300 AD. And Valens lived in the same town with Ptolemy and never heard of him, though Valens was a professional astrologer and also had a school of astrology. He would have known if the Tetrabiblos had been available; he would have had a copy; and he would have known all about it. And yet Valens’s book is true to what was going on at the time. For example, I think it’s got almost a hundred example horoscopes in it. Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos doesn’t have a single one.

So one is a theoretician, and the other one was a practicing astrologer. Ptolemy went down to the Alexandrian Library and got out two or three books on astrology, read through them, and then thought, well, I’ll talk about this part of it, and wrote the Tetrabiblos. Now, what he put down there is good, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not complete, that’s the point I’m trying to make.

And yet, I don’t think up until thirty years ago, hardly anybody knew about that. But since that time, various people have translated some of the old books. I think Robert Schmidt translated all or most of Vettius Valens, for example. A translation of Firmicus came out in 1974, I think. People little by little began to get some of the old books and found out, hey, there was more to it back then than we thought.

Then, in the last ten or fifteen years, why there have been people who got interested in medieval astrology and began to read the medieval books. And that opened up a whole new field too. So those are things that have happened in recent years that have expanded our knowledge. Now, if you are a working astrologer and you’re dealing with clients and so on, you probably don’t have time to sit around and devote yourself to reading the history, and as a result many astrologers today haven’t read any of the old stuff. They havn’t read my book. They haven’t read any of those old texts either. So they’re not familiar with that. I think it’s good to know how things started.

Did you ever see the movie Fiddler on the Roof? Well, there was something very significant in that. At one point some fellow says to Tevye the dairyman, “why do we do this particular thing?” And Tevye says, “it’s tradition.” And the man says, “Why do we have this tradition?” And Tevye says, “I’ll tell you, I don’t know.” That’s kind of situation that I think many astrologers are in. They learn the rules and they even learn to read charts pretty well, and so on. But if somebody said: “why do we do it this way?” all they could say is: “Well, that’s the way I learned it.”

And where did the rule come from? It says that Mars rules Scorpio? They were using Scorpio, and so on like that. Well, somebody made that statement 2000 years ago and we’re stuck with it.

I think that’s interesting, but most people don’t. I guess I could say that if you have any interest in the old stuff, I think my book is helpful because it not only mentions a lot of the old timers, but it gives some excerpts and it gives you a lot of footnotes and refers you to where you could find additional material.

[Read Part 2 of the interview with James H. Holden here.]

Iran: The Astrological Path to War (Part VI)

August 28, 2008 by  

Last week, we narrowed down the possible dates for a war in Iran to 1980/1981, and for the death of Iranian Supreme Leader Khomeini we got 1988/1989.  This week, we look more closely at these years and find out which year is the relevant one.

When Would the Iran War Start – 1980 or 1981?

The 1980 Aries Ingress Mars is on Regulus, a fierce, bombastic royal star, conjunct the expansive North Node.This combination is quintessential warlike puffery; “I’ll see your gas weapons and raise you a few thousand foot soldiers!”This configuration occurred around the world, of course, but in Iran, we saw it in the Ingress 1st house of the nation as a whole.Mars rules the Khomeini 1st house of the Iranian people, so they will be deeply affected.

And, of course, they were, with the Iran-Iraq war resulting in 100,000 Iranian young men dead.Still, Mars in Leo has little essential strength – this was a war that Iran could ill afford.Just a year after the revolution, Iran obviously believed that it could quickly end the conflict and instill a much-needed shot of Iranian national unity in the process.I suspect that this is the reason the war ballooned to the unbelievable dimensions it did; Iran was still in the “Regulus” mindset, where creating and maintaining an image of military might became paramount.The 1980 Aries Ingress indicates that the border skirmishes of 1980 didn’t have to turn into a full-blown war.But the Mars in Leo egos on both sides simply would not back down.

The 1981 Aries Ingress looks much more serious; 1980 was the dress rehearsal, with everyone excited about the war.The 1980 Ingress was like the opening of Gone with the Wind, with Southern society folk excited about the prospect of beating the Yankees, with the young men parading around in their brand-new military uniforms.The Sun-Mars conjunction is right on the Khomeini Ascendant.Note that Mars is in its own fiery sign of Aries, so the war is in full swing, it is also combust, indicating that the Iranian people both could not see what they were getting into, and they were also afflicted by their ruler (the Sun).Though I cannot find data on this, 1981 must have been the year that Iranians began getting drafted in significant numbers, since the Mars-Sun conjunction is on the Ascendant, ruling the people.

The 1980 Jupiter-Saturn conjunction was on the malefic fixed star Vindemiatrix, associated with widowhood and regret.The Jupiter-Saturn-Vindemiatrix conjunction is still active in the 1981 Aries Ingress, and falls on the Khomeini 7th house cusp of open enemies.The Moon in the Aries Ingress opposes the Khomeini Moon and Ascendant, and is immediately applying to oppose the Ingress Mars.Oppositions are particularly warlike, and this Ingress simply screams “war!”Finally, the 1980 Great Conjunction Mars opposes the Ingress Midheaven.When we see a planet afflicting the IC/MC axis, it afflicts the Asc/Desc axis by mundo aspect, so all four angles of the Ingress chart are electrified by this Mars.

Death of Khomeini

Last week, we determined that Khomeini would likely die in 1988 or 1989.The 1988 Ingress is suggestive of death; the Moon rules the turned 8th house of death in the Khomeini chart, and applies to trine Saturn (the ruler of the King).Jupiter conjoins the Moon, however, so we might assume that Khomeini at least got a reprieve in 1988.The 1989 Ingress does not look as positive, however; Saturn is right on the 4th house cusp of the grave in the Ingress.The Moon applies to trine Saturn – this time, there are no helpful interpositions.Moreover, the Moon is conjunct the Khomeini chart Saturn.Without a doubt, 1989 would be the fateful year for Khomeini.He died in June 1989.

Coming Next Week: Using the methods shown in all the previous parts of this series, we will start examining the 2000-2020 period for Iran and determine whether war is likely.


Read Part I of the Iran Series – The seeds of the revolution in the Shah’s Coronation and 1961 Great Conjunction charts.

Part II of the Iran Series – The revolution draws near: Eclipse hits to the coronation and 1961 Great Conjunction.

Part III of the Iran Series – The revolution is here and the Shah is deposed.  Aries Ingress charts for 1977 and 1978.

Part IV of the Iran Series – War comes again: the charts for the Islamic Republic and the 1980 Great Conjunction.

Part V of the Iran Series – Early indications of war and Khomeini’s death.

Part VI of the Iran Series – When would the war begin?

Part VII of the Iran Series – The 2000 Great Conjunction and the Khomeini horoscope.


Iran: The Astrological Path to the Revolution and War, Part II

July 28, 2008 by  

As we discussed last week, this series aims to look for astrological triggers that reliably foretell serious conflict in Iran. Given the current uncertainty about a possible war with Iran, looking at past indications of war in that country should be useful to help us predict any future wars there. Last week, we looked at the two key charts for the 1961—1981 period in Iran: the coronation chart of Reza Khan (1926) and the Great Conjunction of 1961. Both of these charts held clues to the timing and nature of the 1978-1979 revolution in Iran.

Upheaval in Iran: The Great Eclipse Search

Both solar and lunar eclipses are a malefic influence on world affairs, and typically act as triggers of Bad Things happening in the world. They act most powerfully on the angles of state horoscopes, and any planets closely aspecting those angles. This is because the angles represent the four cardinal elements of a state: the people (1st house), the land and the king’s enemies (4th house), the enemies of the state (7th house), and the government (10th house). When eclipses afflict these points, the balance between these four elements is lost, and chaos reigns.

1926 Coronation of Reza Khan

1926 Coronation of Reza Khan

If we do a search on eclipses hitting the angles of the Reza Khan coronation chart, we find several possible candidates:

1. Lunar Eclipse – December 1963 on 4th/10th axis

2. Lunar Eclipse – June 1964 on 4th/10th axis

3. Solar Eclipse – March 1968 on 1st/7th axis (also aspecting the Moon, the Shah’s significator)

4. Lunar Eclipse – March 1978 on 1st/7th axis (aspecting the Moon)

5. Solar Eclipse – October 1978 on 1st/7th axis (aspecting the Moon)

Eclipses in the 1961 Great Conjunction

An astrologer would carefully watch other astrological testimony around the 1978 eclipses, because we have two direct hits to the angles, mere months apart. However, the same is true for the first two eclipses on the list. The next step would be to look for confirming evidence in the 1961 Great Conjunction horoscope.

1961 Great Conjunction - Tehran, Iran

1961 Great Conjunction - Tehran, Iran

Only four eclipses contact the angles in the 1961 chart, and of those, two are anywhere near in time with respect to the Coronation chart eclipses:

1. Solar Eclipse – December 1977 on 4th/10th axis (aspecting the Moon)

2. Solar Eclipse – April 1978 on 4th/10th axis (aspecting the Moon)

We have a repeating theme here, from 1977 through 1978. It wasn’t that difficult to narrow down the most difficult time for Iran from 20 years to two years.  So, we have the “when,” for a Bad Thing to occur in Iran, but we still lack a “what,” other than expecting the “what” to be malefic as per the nature of eclipses.

In Part III of this series, we will look at the horoscopes for 1977 and 1978 to determine the nature of the problems the eclipses promised.


Read Part I of the Iran Series – The seeds of the revolution in the Shah’s Coronation and 1961 Great Conjunction charts.

Part II of the Iran Series – The revolution draws near: Eclipse hits to the coronation and 1961 Great Conjunction.

Part III of the Iran Series – The revolution is here and the Shah is deposed.  Aries Ingress charts for 1977 and 1978.

Part IV of the Iran Series – War comes again: the charts for the Islamic Republic and the 1980 Great Conjunction.

Part V of the Iran Series – Early indications of war and Khomeini’s death.

Part VI of the Iran Series – When would the war begin?

Part VII of the Iran Series – The 2000 Great Conjunction and the Khomeini horoscope.

Astrology of War – Horary Astrology: Will I Get the Kingship of Africa?

September 29, 2006 by  

Horary Astrology of War - King - Arab Warriors

One of my interests in astrology is looking at horoscopes done at some time in history, because very often they have topics we simply do not encounter today. In the past, it was not uncommon for astrologers to be employed by the nobility or royalty. Part of the reason for this, I think, is that the upper classes, not unlike today, were constantly involved in political intrigue and warfare. If they could find an astrologer to increase their odds of winning, so much the better. Many upper-class individuals still employ astrologers today, though as you may imagine, this is kept under rather tight wraps. When Ronald Reagan’s astrologer went public with the name of her powerful client, that meant the end of the relationship between her and the Reagans.

In this post, however, we are going to return to a happier time, at least for astrologers. The rest of society, as we will see from the chart, was not quite doing so well. This horoscope comes from a book on astrology titled On Reception, which was written in the eighth century A.D. by an astrologer writing in the Arabic astrological tradition, named Masha’ allah ibn Athari. He came from Basra, in modern day Iraq, and was one of the astrologers who created a horoscope for the founding of Baghdad. Baghdad is one of the few cities we know was founded at a specific time under appropriate astrological configurations, by the way.

This is the horoscope of a horary question asked by a Duke who was promised a kingship in Africa by a king. There was only one small problem: the kingship was in the hands of a rebel Lord, and the Duke naturally wanted to know whether he would get the kingship and what would happen to the rebel Lord.

The data for this question has been calculated by Robert Hand in his modern translation of this text. The closest date is December 1, 794 AD, at 4:00 a.m. Universal Time, in Baghdad. This time (yes, 4 am) proves that astrologers had to be on call 24/7.

The chart that is in Robert Hand’s text is not a chart that I could reproduce at my computer. The further back we go into astrological history, the more difficult we find it to reproduce charts in old texts. They simply do not match up to our computer-based databases. If we get the Sun to match its position in the text, Saturn is out of place, and once we put Jupiter where it is in the chart, Mars has suddenly moved 15°. This may be because the old astrologers were not working with ultra-precise instruments, or perhaps there is more to this art than having all the planets in the right places. Somehow, Masha’allah still achieved a high degree of accuracy even though his planets seemed to be where they shouldn’t. Below is my very primitive (but very authentic-looking) mockup of the approximate positions of the planets.

Astrology of War - If Get the Kingship of Africa?

Let us take a look at what is going on with this chart. The Lord of the ascendant is Jupiter, which is in the 10th house of kingship. This, by itself, is not sufficient proof that our man is going to get the throne he desires. Rather, it shows that he is entirely fixated on obtaining the kingship. In Virgo, Jupiter is in its detriment. The Duke is not in a good situation; this is because Jupiter is in the sign of Mercury. And how is Mercury? Bad. It is in Scorpio, retrograde, and in the 12th house of imprisonment. Mercury is also ruler of the seventh house of open enemies. This makes us pause and step back to reconsider the Duke’s question. He is not exactly asking whether he will get the kingship; he has already been granted the kingship by the King. Rather, the Duke wishes to know whether he will defeat his rival. As a result, we are going to be less interested in the 10th house, and more interested in the seventh house. This will tell us who will emerge victorious. This is a close contest.

However, while in the short term, there will appear to be a stalemate, the Duke will eventually win. Here’s why: Jupiter is in the 10th house, in the sign of Mercury. Therefore the rebel Lord has power over the Duke right now. However, Mercury is very weak in the 12 house, so he is in no position to act. What is worse, after spending a little more time relatively safe in Scorpio, Mercury will enter Sagittarius, which is Jupiter’s sign, and the rebel will fall into the Duke’s hands.

In his analysis of this chart, Masha’allah also observes that the enemy’s troops were owed back pay, and by paying part of what they were owed, the Duke would sway them to his side. Since ones support, military and otherwise, is shown by the second house, the rebel Lord’s troops are shown by his second house, the eighth. Mars in cancer retrograde is in this house, and will shortly be opposed by the moon. The moon rules the second house, and therefore represents the soldiers themselves. Both the moon and Mars are very essentially weak, but in strong mutual reception. The troops are not in good shape, and neither is the rebel Lord’s money, which is also shown by the second house. At this point, Masha’allah does a little handwaving, and tells us that the troops are owed money by the rebel Lord, so by paying them, the Duke will effectively disarm the rebel Lord.

It’s fairly hard to believe that Masha’ allah would be able to divine this from the chart alone, and I believe it is more likely that the Duke already had this information and related it to Masha’ allah. But, Masha’ allah was a great astrologer, so I would not cast aspersions on his skill unless I was sure of my argument.

Celebrity Astrology: Wealth in the Horoscope – When Would He Acquire Wealth?

September 27, 2006 by  

Wealth in the Horoscope - Cardinal Richelieu

Yesterday, we looked at the potential of wealth in a famous person’s horoscope. In the natal chart of Cardinal Richelieu, we saw that his second house Mars and to a lesser degree, 10th house Venus, would contribute to his great wealth. Given that Cardinal Richelieu was born into the minor nobility, there was likely already some amount of money in the family (do we do not know just how much), so when we see the great increase in wealth that his chart shows, we know that on an objective scale, he will end up quite wealthy.

So then, if the Cardinal came to us as a client, he would of course want to know when this wealth was likely to materialize. We already know from our examination of Cardinal Richelieu’s horoscope yesterday, that his wealth would come through his own efforts, and through royalty, specifically the Queen. It now remains to be seen at what time these influences would be most active in his life.

We can use the old Arabic system of triplicity rulers, also sometimes known as the Dorothean triplicities. The list of the Dorothean triplicities is on the Gryphon Astrology website, in the ancient text section. We look at the triplicity rulers of the Cardinal’s second house, using the order of the triplicity rulers given. The order given is: Venus, Mars, and the moon. We can thus divide the Cardinal’s life into three thirds. We know the first third will be ruled by Venus, the second third by Mars, and the last third by the moon. It is quite convenient when the chief significator of wealth appears as one of the three triplicity rulers, as it does here. Since we have determined that Mars signifies wealth for the Cardinal, we can safely say that his wealth (and the greatest increase in wealth) will come during the second third of his life.

Thus the wealth in the first third of his life will be pretty good, because it is ruled by an angular and elevated Venus. However, Venus does not have much essential dignity in 3° of Leo, so we know that while the Queen will be helpful in setting Richelieu on the right career path (10th house), and he will do fairly well financially as a result, the real wealth will not arrive until the second third of his life, ruled by the essentially and accidentally strong Mars in Scorpio on the ascendant.

The last third of his life will still be okay, wealth wise, but nowhere near the levels seen during the second third of his life. In his natal horoscope using the Placidus house system, the moon rules the Cardinal’s ninth house of faith, religion, and the Church. How is the moon? Not great; it is in the fifth house, which is not terribly strong, it opposes the Sun (and affliction to any planet because of the Sun’s burning beams), and has little dignity in 19 Pisces. Financially, Richelieu seems to have done just fine during the last third of his life, though he had spent vast sums of money on building his Palace in Paris, which was filled with major artistic treasures. The fifth house is the house of pleasure, so we see financial expenditures in that arena. Too, the moon suffers by the opposition to the Sun, which can mean the King’s money, or his ministers. Richelieu spent a lot of time and effort on quelling the various conspiracies against him, and it is unknown whether the King continued to reward him as generously as he had earlier in his career.

Then, if we wanted to know more specifically when Richelieu is great wealth would arrive, we would look at more time-the specific prediction methods. However, as an overall picture of the life, the triplicity rulers tell us quite a bit.

Horoscope - Cardinal Richelieu - Wealth in the Horoscope

Celebrity Astrology: Wealth in the Horoscope of Cardinal Richelieu

September 26, 2006 by  

Wealth in Horoscope - Richelieu

Finding the level of wealth and the sources for money in the natal horoscope has always been fascinating to me. Most of us will end up at a similar economic level that we were born into, plus or minus some amount. In other words, we will probably never leave the class into which we were born. Some would argue that money and class are two separate topics, but when I say class, in this article I refer to the level of economic prosperity. One of the challenges in looking at a natal horoscope with regard to wealth is that we must realize that we are not looking at an absolute prediction. This means that the horoscope will show gain or loss relative to the level at birth. This is why we typically do not see huge changes in class one way or another. Most horoscopes show preservation of the financial status quo with minor variations up or down.

This is why, when we do see a horoscope with strong promises of wealth, we sit up and pay attention. One such horoscope is that of the Cardinal Richelieu, France’s first Prime Minister, way back in the 17th century. Today, he is best known for his Machiavellian ability to direct the government of France (largely considered for its benefit), however, he made a fortune as Cardinal. He had come from minor nobility, so he was a better positioned for the gain of wealth than most people in France at that time. Regardless of this, however, his horoscope still indicates a clear ascent to wealth.

Horoscope - Cardinal Richelieu - Wealth in the Horoscope

We must look to Richelieu’s second house of wealth, which in this chart is in 27° Scorpio. Scorpio is ruled by Mars, which in Richelieu’s chart is just inside the first house in its own sign, triplicity, term, and face. Thus, Mars is incredibly strong in Richelieu’s chart, and its prominent position in an angle shows that it is well able to act. This alone bodes well for Richelieu’s finances throughout his life, compared to the level toward which he was born.

However, the fact that his financial success is represented by a malefic (albeit a very strong malefic), the success will come but with difficulty, or through martial means. This means through strife, aggression, and war. The fact that Mars is in the first house of the self, shows that Richelieu will gain his great wealth through his own efforts, and also through who he is. So, who is he? As someone with Mars in the first house, he is going to be warlike, and will lead a martial, or militaristic life. Indeed, the fact that Richelieu became a Cardinal was largely an accident, as he had been planning to go into the military. So we can see that Richelieu will make his wealth through being warlike. This was very much the case, as he spent his career attempting to unify a fragmented country and raised money for the state by whatever means necessary.

What will be the source of Richelieu’s wealth? We already know that he would make his money himself, but of course that money still has to come from somewhere. Mars, in addition to ruling the first house (or most of it), also rules the sixth house and the seventh house. So he will make money through his servants, subordinates, and people working his lands. Those are all meanings associated with the sixth house. He also made money through partners and colleagues, and from his open enemies, which are all associated with the seventh house. Richelieu was given lands and high honors, and later founded the town of Richelieu, near which he built a large château. Likewise, he was given some rewards from the estates of the Protestant Huguenots, whom he helped persecute while in office.

His association with the Royal Court, however, was the chief reason for his wealth. We will notice that Mars is squared by Venus in Leo in the 10th house. Richelieu began his career at court via the French queen, who approved of his strict Roman Catholicism. The 10th house, of course, is the house of the King — with Venus being a female kind of King, or a queen. And yet the reception between Venus and Mars is difficult, with Mars being in Venus’s detriment, and Venus not caring for Mars much at all. Too, the fact that the aspect linking the two is a square, shows that there is tension and difficulty in this alliance. In his first two years of service to the queen, Cardinal Richelieu was exiled along with the queen from the French court, and only negotiated her return to the court with great difficulty. But once he returned to the Royal Court, he quickly ascended to become the King’s chief minister. The good ending of the story likely comes from the fact that Mars is so strong and dominates this Venus-Mars connection.

The Part of Fortune also has a role to play in Richelieu’s acquisition of wealth. It is in 3° Taurus, and therefore is disposited by Venus. This is the same Venus that is the source for Richelieu’s wealth. We are told by ancient authors that aspects to the Part of Fortune, especially from its dispositor (if it is strong), are highly beneficial for the acquisition of fortune. Here, Venus squares the Part of Fortune exactly. With a square, we again see that there are difficulties in the acquisition of the fortune, and the road to riches is not without some serious bumps. Mars opposes the Part of Fortune, giving the impression that Richelieu’s warlike personality and life was not without its financial costs. By the time Richelieu died, while still extremely wealthy, he was perhaps the most hated man in France. This reminds us that the Part of Fortune does not deal only with the financial fortune, but also with the overall fortune in life.

Besieging a Castle: How Not to Do It

October 27, 2005 by  

Besieging a Castle: How Not to Do It.

If you haven’t yet read Bonatti’s On War, you owe it to yourself to do so. This is not so much because it will come in handy in your daily life (note: if you routinely lay sieges as part of your workday, you may need a new career), but because it is a fascinating firsthand account of a “field” astrologer in the 13th century Bonatti had participated in many military expeditions, and there are several stories of his astrological prowess saving the day (check out Holden’s History of Horoscopic Astrology) The text is also an excellent illustration of the fact that even then, the commander did not always listen to his astrologer’s advice!

In this post, I will examine a chart from 1261, when Bonatti went on an expedition with the then-podesta (a type of military commander) of Urbino, Guido di Montefeltro. By way of historical context, Guido was one of the Ghibelline faction and was consigned to Hell by Dante Alighieri in Canto XXVII of his Divine Comedy. Guido was apparently quite a character; he ran Urbino for over thirty years, no small task in those unstable times, and at the end of his long life became a Franciscan monk, presumably to atone for his sins. As an astrologer, Bonatti earned a place in Hell also, though Dante gives every indication of possessing quite advanced astrological knowledge himself! In our chart, Guido and his army were besieging a castle, and the commander wished to know whether they would take it or not.

Technical Details: I am using Robert Zoller’s translation of On War, which I would recommend highly to interested readers. Though the place, date and time for the chart are not given, the closest approximation I could find is October 11, 1261, 9:05 am GMT, Urbino, Italy. Interestingly, the Sun and Moon for this chart are where they should be, but several of the other planets are in different degrees from Solar Fire’s calculation. This could be because Bonatti was doing the chart on the go, as it were, and he probably did not bring a watch, mainly because they did not exist in 1261. The computer approximation is close enough for our purposes, anyway. If you have Zoller’s translation, the chart reproduced from a 16th-century manuscript is the preferred version.

In a siege chart such as this one, Bonatti says to use the 1st house and the Moon for the querent and his side, and the 4th house for the enemy’s castle or land. One then weighs the accidental and essential dignities of each house and ruling planet to see who will emerge victorious. This seems simple enough. However, Bonatti acknowledges other authorities who would assign the 10th house to the enemy’s land (under the reasoning that it is the 4th from the house of open enemies, the 7th). There is yet another possible analytical approach we can take, which Bonatti does not mention, but it seems the most plausible to me: weighing the relative strengths of the 1st and 7th houses, house cusps, planets therein, and their rulers, as in any contest. The 4th/10th house axis becomes largely irrelevant in that case. I will apply each of these three techniques to this chart, and see which one(s) gives the result Bonatti describes.

METHOD 1 (Bonatti’s original method):

Querent and his army are represented by Moon in Taurus in the 5th house, and Jupiter in Capricorn in the 2nd. The 1st house cusp is conjunct Antares, the star of the autumn equinox, symbolizing endings. Two planets below the horizon, one in fall, Asc conjunct Antares; not a terrible start for Guido, but it could be a lot better.

The enemy (the castle’s army) are shown by the 4th house, also ruled by Jupiter, so we cannot use it twice. However, we do see the North Node in the 4th, and also Saturn. In his book, Bonatti says that Saturn is positioned at the entrance to the house, which it clearly is not. I think he just does this with 20/20 hindsight, since the castle (spoiler alert!) was not taken by Guido. Normally, seeing Saturn in a house is not good for its occupants. It seems, however, that the North Node may have helped quite a bit.

We will also note (and this is NOT what Bonatti says) that to find the ruler of the 4th, we simply move on one sign from Pisces, and take Mars, ruler of Aries. Mars is the most elevated planet in the chart, conjunct the fixed star Vindemiatrix, the widow-maker, and conjunct the South Node. Note that Jupiter exalts Mars; Jupiter is in Mars’s power. With the Moon applying to a trine with a weak Jupiter, we can assume Guido will not win. Bonatti says Guido’s men lost because they were slothful; given that Jupiter is in its fall, perhaps they spent too much time in excess to really do battle. Attacking the castle with a beer in each hand just doesn’t work.


Bonatti mentions that this method is used by some authorities; give the castle the 10th (as 4th from the 7th) and 1st to the besieging army. We’ve already talked about the 1st above; the 10th is ruled by Mercury, which is in Scorpio in the 11th house (so elevated over Jupiter). As we mentioned previously, Mars is conjunct Vindemiatrix and the South Node in the 10th house. The South Node does not bode well, but elevation seems to mean a lot in these charts, and having the God of War on your side, elevated over all the other planets is not a bad thing. Even according to this method, then, Guido\r\nloses.


I like this method the best, because it’s based on first principles. Our team gets the 1st house; our opponents get the 7th. It doesn’t really matter if our house (4th) or castle (4th) or cattle (12th) or child (5th) is at stake. This is a duel. Mano a mano.

On this reality check, we proceed: As we noted the 1st house and its rulers are not in excellent shape. The 7th house looks a bit better; Mercury is in the 11th. The Moon just opposed it, so we can assume that our armies have clashed, or at least that negotiations were broken off and Guido announced that the castle is now officially besieged. Note that Mercury hates the Moon; it is in Scorpio, the Moon’s fall. The Moon could care less about Mercury, on the other hand. Guido’s men just don’t seem that motivated. Jupiter recently squared a very nasty Saturn in fall; our men are doing really badly, now that we look at it.

As Bonatti points out, it’s not that the enemy were such amazing fighters, it’s just that Guido’s men were in such pitiful shape. And why were they in such pitiful shape? Bonatti mentions that when they leave the siege field, the men are grateful that for the first time in four months, it stopped raining. No wonder they were glad to go home!