Many contemporary astrologers got their start in traditional astrology through the writings and teaching of Robert Zoller. I first met Robert in the 1980s at a conference in NYC. He mentioned how he was spending time in the NY Public Library translating medieval astrology texts and, knowing of my interest in William Lilly and in traditional methods, he recommended that I read Bonatti and Morinus. Robert had written a text in 1981 about Bonatti’s methods, entitled Tools & Techniques of the Medieval Astrologers.
At the time some astrologers studying traditional methods were “purists” who refused even to look at the “modern” planets in traditional charts. Other astrologers were open to including Uranus, Neptune and Pluto in charts to see if they offered additional information. Zoller belonged to the latter group.
Given Zoller’s reputation as a pioneer in re-introducing traditional astrology to the modern world, it may surprise those unfamiliar with his work that he used Uranus, Neptune and Pluto with traditional methods. In his writing and teaching, Robert often illustrated concepts using the primary directions of “modern” planets in his own birth chart.
Explaining Bonatti’s method of calculating length of life, Zoller identifies the Moon as his hyleg (giver of life) and Venus as his Alcocoden (giver of years). By Bonatti’s medieval standards, Venus would offer him 82 years of life (the duration of her “major” years). Nonetheless, Zoller notes that an angular Uranus (a modern planet) closely opposes his natal Venus, which is his Alcocoden, and therefore a certain number of years must be subtracted from the “major years” of Venus to determine the likely lifespan.
Noting that Uranus is analogous to Saturn, as is Jupiter to Neptune and Pluto to Mars, Zoller comes up with the formula “Uranus = 10, Neptune = 4, and Pluto = 5” (Tools & Techniques, p. 58). Therefore, Zoller subtracts 10 years from the lifespan promised by Venus to account for the opposition of Uranus to Venus (the Alcocoden), and he states that his expected life span would thus be 72 years.
It is noteworthy that Robert Zoller was born on 25 January 1947 and he died on 24 January 2020 at the age of 72, just one day before his 73rd birthday. One has to wonder whether his belief that he would die at age 72 became a self-fulfilling prophecy or whether the medieval technique with the addition of the modern planets accurately predicted his length of life.