While reading about the natal chart of founding father Thomas Paine online, I came across a reference to a book by astrologer Steffan Vanel, whose work I did not know. Amazon.com describes him as “an internationally renowned Astrologer and Tarot Reader … known for his unique synthesis of Astrology, Tarot, Kaballah, and Psychology” and adds that “he was born in Akron, Ohio on September 25, 1951 at 11:51 AM.”
Intrigued by the description, I ordered Vanel’s The Astrological Karma of the USA and found it to be a thoughtful, well written astrological interpretation of the Sibley chart for theUSA. Mr. Vanel’s main astrological reference, however, is an astrology text written by someone named Hilarion, whom I had never heard of. It became clear in reading Vanel’s text that Hilarion does not exist on the physical plane but is, rather, a disembodied spirit (or “ascended master”) who has regular chats with Canadian astrologer Maurice B. Cooke. Mr. Cooke was kind enough to transcribe Hilarion’s words so that we mortals, for a price, can benefit from his cosmic insights. In doing a google search for Hilarion, I got the impression that he has a cult-like status among his followers.
The intelligence and thoughtfulness of Vanel’s discussion of the USA chart seemed to contrast with the sometimes odd pronouncements of Hilarion about astrological chart interpretation. Curious, I ordered Hilarion’s rather costly booket Astrology Plus… to become more conversant with his way of thinking. After reading Hilarion’s text, the contrast between Vanel’s intelligence and Hilarion’s pontifications seemed (to me at least) even more stark. I ended up feeling that Hilarion was a figment of Mr. Cooke’s imagination, accessed though the trance state that he describes in the introduction.
Hilarion must be a bit of a nerd. I say this because there is another website by electrical engineer Jon C. Fox in which Fox describes how he channels Hilarion to receive technical information. According to Fox, Hilarion “insists on being considered as a group,” kind of like the Borg on Star Trek. You may recall that The Borg used abduction and “assimilation” (enforced cybernetic enhancement, connection to the hive mind) in order to achieve perfection. In addition, in one incarnation Hilarion was the Apostle Paul of the Christian Bible, so in many ways Hilarion is responsible for the spread of Christianity.
I don’t mean to offend followers of Hilarion who are free to believe as they wish in Western society. Personally I find many of the statements attributed to Hilarion to defy rationality. Here are some examples of Hilarion’s teachings:
Prior to the appearance of humans on earth, “the planets were different and had different orbits and periods” so that current ideas of astrology were not applicable. Five million years ago there was an “inter-breeding of men and angels” which made the workings of astrology possible. At that time “it was felt” (by whom is not specified) that the planets could be used to teach mankind spiritual or karmic lessons, which Hilarion explains in his book.
Hilarion goes on the settle the thorny issue of house division once and for all. Hilarion asked the “guides who arrange each individual’s birth chart by manipulating the timing of the birth” about which house system they use to plan a birth. It turns out that the guides have used the Porphyry system for the past 5 million years (since the time of the great man-angel interbreeding). The guides calculate the Ascendant as we know it and use the Midheaven as the cusp of the 10th house (so much for the equal houses of the Hellenistic period!). The guides then trisect each quadrant into equal thirds. Unfortunately, Hilarion neglected to ask the guides how they calculate houses for births in the polar regions. If only Placidus and Regiomontanus had been aware of this five million year-old practice, it would have saved all of us a lot of time and wasted effort.
Other than chatting with the guides, Hilarion appears not to have spoken much, if at all, with astrologers who lived prior to the 20th century. He is largely unaware of the ideas of medieval or Renaissance astrology. From reading his delineations, I would guess that Hilarion did a tutorial with departed spirit of the late Alan Leo or one of his disciples. Hilarion clearly has not read Dane Rudhyar or conversed with Rudhyar’s ghost because, like many modern astrologers, Hilarion tends to confuse the zodiacal signs with the astrological houses.
Like older astrologers, however, Hilarion is particularly grim about the 12th house. From reading his delineations, one gets the impression that the rate of suicide was markedly higher in earlier times. I think the current suicide rate in the USA is about 11 per 100,000. Judging from Hilarion’s comments, as many as one in twelve people who reincarnate in modern times may have ended their life by suicide. Maybe the world is getting better!