The Stolen Fish and the Transparent Eye-ball

When I was in high school, we were required to read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1836 essay Nature.  At the time I loved spending time hiking in the woods, so a particular passage really stuck me about enjoying the solitude of uninhabited places in nature:

“There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite spaces, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.”

My first thought on reading this passage was, ‘Is this guy nuts?’,  but I was struck by the poetic wording, and the image of the transparent eye-ball stuck with me like a pop song that you can’t get out of your head.  Trying to understand what he meant by a “transparent eye-ball”,  I checked a book of the essays and journals of Emerson out of the library and read through much that he had written.  In one of his notebooks Emerson commented on Socrates Daemon:


“Can you believe, Waldo Emerson, that you may relieve yourself of this perpetual perplexity of choosing? and by putting your ear close to the soul, learn always the true way. I cannot remark but how perfectly this agrees with the Daimon of Socrates.”

Emerson then quotes Plutarch:

“Socrates, warned by his Daemon to change is road, walked another way saying that the change was the ‘will of admonition’ of his Daemon.  His friends went wearily on, but were overturned by a herd of swine.  So it was shown that Socrates’ Daemon never forsook him.”

As an adolescent, while I was reading these essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, I had also begun my study of astrology.  It occurred to me that what astrologers were attempting to do was to act like “transparent eye-balls” and to “put their ears close to the soul” to “learn the true way” as it might be revealed in an astrological chart.

In recent years I have been studying Hellenistic astrology in which Socrates’ Daimon is represented by the Lot of Spirit (aka, the Lot of Daimon).  In the technique of Zodiacal Releasing, this Lot of Daimon progresses through the birth chart, revealing the lessons and challenges that unfold during each period of the native’s life.

I first got interested in horary astrology in the 1970s and worked my way through the books by Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson (published in 1960) and Barbara Watters (published in 1973) on this topic.  During the 1970s I also read  Zadkiel’s abridged edition of Lilly’s work which was available through Dover Books, but it seemed rather obscure and dense at the time.  In the 1980s I got more serious about Lilly and spent several years carefully studying Christian Astrology (1647, the Regulus Edition), and it occurred to me that horary astrology was perhaps the most obvious way in which Emerson’s ideas about the “transparent eye-ball” and Socrates Daimon manifest in the field of astrology.  In 1994 Geoffrey Cornelius in his book The Moment of Astrology made explicit the connection between horary and the Daimon.  An excellent example of this connection occurs in Lilly’s horary about the stolen fish.

Lilly tells us that he had bought some fish in London to be delivered by barge to his home. Unfortunately on the day he expected delivery a waterman informed Lilly that the warehouse had been robbed the the fish stolen.  Lilly noted the exact time (20 Feb 1638 NS, 9 AM LMT) he got this news, and he cast a horary chart to find out what had happened to his fish and perhaps recover his stolen goods.

stelen fish3

The above chart is for Saturday 10 Feb 1638 (OS).  Below is the chart for Saturday 20 Feb 1638 NS at 9 AM LMT, which shows the Lot of Daimon (Spirit) in Aquarius in the 10th Whole Sign house.

Stolen Fish

Lilly does not discuss the Part of Spirit in this chart, but let’s look at what Daimon is doing.  The Lot of Daimon lies in the 10th house in Aquarius.  Daimon is applying to the prenatal lunation, which was a New Moon at 25 Aquarius.  Saturn is the lord of the Lot of Daimon, and Saturn is receiving a superior square from a retrograde and peregrine Jupiter on the Western horizon.  So Jupiter is annoying the lord of Lilly’s Daimon with a square, and Lilly decides to cast a horary chart to discover who stole his goods.  It appears that Lilly is “putting his ear close to the soul” and taking the advice of his Daimon to cast a horary chart, perhaps enlist the aid of 10th house individuals, and pay special attention to the upcoming lunation.

Lilly first notices that Jupiter is without essential dignity on an angle, which in horary means that Jupiter in Scorpio could well be the thief, as could Mars in watery Scorpio as the ruler of the 7th cusp.

Lilly’s missing goods are shown by the 2nd house of movable goods (Gemini, ruled by Mercury in watery Pisces in the 11th) and by the Lot of Fortune (in watery Cancer, ruled by the Moon in Taurus).  As ruler of the Ascendant, the Moon rules Lilly as well as his Lot of Fortune.  The applying sextile of the Moon to Mercury means that Lilly will get his goods back, but they may not be in great condition because Mercury in Pisces is in its detriment and fall (opposite Virgo).

Next Lilly notes that Mars, ruler of the 7th cusp and dispositor of Jupiter, the thief) is at the very end of his home sign Scorpio and about to change to the new sign Sagittarius.  To Lilly, this means that the thief has recently sold land or changed residence.  Living in a small town, Lilly does some sleuthing and discovers that a jovial fisherman, known for thievery, has recently moved to a new home.

Armed with this evidence and his horary chart, Lilly convinces a justice of the peace to issue a warrant so that a constable can search the house of the suspicious fisherman for Lilly’s fish.  Lilly postpones the search until Sunday, 28 Feb 1638 NS, to take advantage of the Full Moon bringing matters to light.  Note that his Daimon lies in the 10th house of civil authorities like justices of the peace and the constable, and his Daimon is applying to the prenatal New Moon in Aquarius, suggesting that Lilly wait until the next lunation, the Full Moon of 28 February, to go after the fish.

Here is the original horary chart, now advanced 8 days to 28 February 1638 at 9 AM, the day the Lilly went with the constable to the thieving fisherman’s house to recover his stolen goods.  Note that Daimon, which prompted Lilly to cast the horary chart and wait until the Full Moon to serve the warrant, is now exactly on the Descendant, the cusp of the Regiomonatus 7th house, which represents the thief.  Daimon has led Lilly to the site of his stolen goods at the home of the thief.  Of course, at the Full Moon Lilly’s Daimon is with the Lot of Fortune which symbolizes his material possessions.


Although it is not typical horary practice, Lilly’s example of the stolen fish suggests that it might be quite useful to listen to the promptings of our Daimon as evidenced by the symbolism of the Lot of Spirit in our horary charts.

Here is a table of the Zodiacal Releasing from Daimon (Spirit) for the original horary chart. As you can see, the Daimon has moved from Aquarius into Pisces on 28 February 1638, the date of recovery of the stolen fish represented by Mercury, ruler of the 2nd, in Pisces.

Lilly summarizes his findings as follows:

Lilly concludes

John Frawley has an interesting discussion of this chart at


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The Death of Pico della Mirandola

One of the famous predictions in the history of astrology was that of the death of Pico della Mirandola, the precocious young philosopher of 15th century Italy who wrote the key text of Renaissance humanism and the Hermetic Reformation.  Based on his philosophical beliefs, Pico was an ardent critic of predictive astrology.  Legend has it that in retaliation for this criticism, three astrologers of Florence studied Pico’s birthchart and predicted that the life of their philosophical enemy would end before the completion of his 33rd year.  We must remember that this was a period in which the prevailing religious authorities felt justified in torturing and killing anyone who disagreed with their opinions about dogma, so we shouldn’t fault the three astrologers too much for wishing Pico dead. To do so was part and parcel of the culture of the time.

Sure enough, Pico died on 17 November 1494 (OS) at the age of 31. He never reached his 32nd birthday, which would have taken place in February of 1495.  The average lifespan of Renaissance artists was about 63 years, and death at age 31 was certainly uncommon.

What might the Florentine astrologers have seen in Pico’s chart to make such a formidable prediction? During the Renaissance there was a rebirth of interest in Ptolemy and the use of primary directions in which one degree of movement of the MC in right ascension was equivalent to one year of life. According to the birth chart for Pico available at the time, when his MC advanced 33 degrees of Right Ascension (to his 33rd year of life), his Ascendant advanced to the position of Mars in his birth chart.  Mars, being malefic and opposing the Moon in the 8th house of death, was thus a symbol of his potential demise.

Pico face2

Pico was born 24 February 1463 (OS) in Modena, Italy.  The astrologer Girolamo Benivieni, a personal friend of Pico, had cast his chart with a birth time of 20:39 LMT (2h 42 m after sunset).  Here is the chart or a close approximation to the one used by the astrologers to predict Pico’s early demise.


Pico’s natal chart

The Renaissance astrologers looked at the Right Ascension of the 20 Cancer 59 MC, which is  11241′.  They then calculated the number of degrees of change in the MC which would be required to bring the Ascendant to natal Mars, as in this chart:


Pico’s natal chart advanced to 10:59:44 pm LMT with Ascendant conjunct the body of Mars (age 36)

The MC of this latter chart lies at 25 Leo 42, which has a Right Ascension of 147o  58′.  The difference between the MC of the natal and this “directed” chart is  14858′ – 11241′ = 3617′, which in Ptolemy’s measure (one degree = one year of life) means that Pico might die by the age of 36.  It may be that the Italian astrologers who predicted his demise by the time of his 33rd year of life were using a slightly later Ascendant, or much more likely they were measuring the number of degrees of Right Ascension it took for the MC to advance so that the directed Ascendant reached exactly 13o Scorpio, which is the degree containing Mars, thus forming a partile conjunction of the directed Asc with natal Mars, (in theory, primary motion directs Mars to the Asc, but in practical terms the effect is the same).  Here is the chart:


Pico’s natal chart advanced to 10:55:25 PM LMT with Ascendant entering 13o Scorpio (age 34)

The MC of this third chart lies at 24 Leo 35, which has a Right Ascension of 146o  53′.  The difference between the MC of the natal and this chart is  14653′ – 11241′ = 3412′, which in Ptolemy’s measure of one degree per year of life means that Pico might die by the age of 34.

In fact, Pico died on 17 November 1494 (OS) at age 31, during his 32nd year of life, probably poisoned by one of his enemies.  Pico had a rather provocative style (Sun opposite Uranus) and was known to fool around with the wives of some prominent and powerful Italian men, who didn’t take kindly to his dalliances. Around the time of his death, Pico had become friends with Girolamo Savonarola, the fanatical Dominican friar, and thereby enemies with Piero de’ Medici who may have had him poisoned with arsenic.  Given Pico’s personality style and extreme political and religious views, even a non-astrologer could have predicted his early demise as the hands of a powerful enemy.

As a check on the Renaissance Italian astrologers’ prediction, we might look at the Hellenistic technique of Zodiacal Releasing from the Lot of Fortune, which shows what befall the body.  Here are Pico’s ZR periods from Fortune as calculated in Elías D. Molins’ program AstroSpica.


In Level 1, Pico is passing through a Virgo period, which is his 12th Whole Sign house.  This activates Uranus in the 12th and the Sun and Venus in the 6th, with Venus ruling his 8th house of death.  In his houses measured from Fortune, Venus also occupies his derived 8th house of death.

In Level II, Pico is in a Gemini subperiod.  Since Gemini is a mutable sign, this also activates his natal 12th and 6th houses (Virgo and Pisces, respectively).

In Level III, Pico is in a Capricorn subperiod, with Capricorn being his 4th house of the end of life.

In Level IV, Pico is in a Scorpio subperiod, which will change to Sagittarius at 19:55 in the evening.  This activates his natal Mars in Scorpio (death by poisoning?) as well as the opposite natal 8th house of death.  Also activated are the many planets in fixed signs: Pluto in Leo (which is also activated by primary direction), the Moon in Taurus in the 8th of death, malefic Saturn in Aquarius in the 5th (did he have an affair with someone’s wife which lead to his being poisoned?), and Mercury in the 5th (with Mercury ruling his 12th of secret enemies).

The 15th century astrologers were not aware of the existence of Pluto but it is striking that around the time of Pico’s death, by primary direction, there is a conjunction of the Asc with Mars and of the MC with Pluto, a modern symbol of death and the underworld.

Finally, here is a printout from Janus software of the converse primary directions for Pico from the ages of 30 to 37.  These are Placidus semi-arc mundane directions using the time key of Naibod (the Ptolemy key gives dates about 6 months earler than Naibod in this list).


Looking at these directions for the period surrounding his death in November of 1494, we see

  • Saturn opp. Uranus (in 12th of secret enemies).
  • Jupiter conj. Mercury.
  • Ascendant conj. Mars (2 Dec 1494; death was 17 Nov 1494).  Mars rules the Dsc which opposes the Asc, and this opposition can mean a threat to bodily integrity.
  • MC opp. Saturn, malefic of the contrary sect in this night chart.  (Saturn rules his end-of-life 4th house and the 5th house of love affairs.)

Thus, regardless of whether the story of Renaissance astrologers accurately predicting Pico’s death is apocryphal, his early demise does seem to be foreshadowed in his birth chart.

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The logic behind triplicity rulers

Recently I’ve been thinking about triplicity rulers and wondering about the logic behind the different systems.  I first learned triplicity rulers from William Lilly’s Christian Astrology (1647) and later learned the Dorothean system from Dorotheus’ 1st century work Carmen Astrologicum.  The two systems have some similarities and some important differences.

As a refresher, here is the Dorothean system of triplicity rulers:

And here is Lilly’s more simplified version which he attributes to Ptolemy:

As you can see, Lilly assigns only two rulers to each triplicity (day and night rulers) whereas Dorotheus assigns three (day, night and participating rulers).  Both authors use the classical seven visible planets. It appears that Lilly has greatly simplified the Dorthean system by eliminating the “participating” ruler of the triplicity.  In addition, Lilly appears to have eliminated the day and night rulers of the water triplicity and used only the participating triplicity ruler, Mars.  In doing so, Lilly almost certainly introduced an erroneous understanding of Ptolemy into the astrology of his time.  Interestingly, Claude Dariot, a predecessor of Lilly (Christian Astrology, 1647), wrote a book in 1557 in which he gave VENUS as the day ruler of the Water triplicity and MARS as the night ruler.  Like Lilly, Dariot did not use the participating rulers.

Here is a table I put together to illustrate the logic behind the triplicity rulers:


William Lilly appears to have selected the domicile ruler of the fixed sign of each triplicity as its principal triplicity ruler by day.

  • For diurnal Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius), Lilly’s day ruler is the Sun, which rules fixed Leo.  This leaves Jupiter as the night ruler.  Mars cannot be used because it is of the nocturnal sect and is quite malefic in a day chart.
  • For nocturnal Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn), Lilly’s day ruler is Venus because Taurus is a fixed sign.  His night ruler is the Moon which is exalted in Taurus and is the leader of the sect.
  • For diurnal  Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius), Lilly’s day ruler is Saturn because Aquarius is a fixed sign.  Even though Saturn is a malefic, it is a member of the day sect, and its more positive attributes are likely to manifest in a day chart.  Lilly’s night ruler is Mercury, which rules Gemini.  Venus cannot be used because it is of the nocturnal sect.
  • For nocturnal Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces), Lilly’s day ruler is Mars because Scorpio is a fixed sign. His night ruler is also Mars, but there is little logic in his position because both Venus and the Moon are available to be used as triplicity rulers of Water.

Dorotheus uses the domicile rulers of the fixed signs as well as the exaltations of the planets in his system of triplicity rulers.  The sect of the planets is also of paramount importance.

  • For diurnal Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius), Dorotheus uses as his day ruler the SUN which is exalted in Aries and also rules the fixed sign Leo.  Jupiter (domicile ruler of Sagittarius) becomes the night ruler.  Mars cannot be used because it is of the nocturnal sect.  Saturn, as the remaining member of the diurnal sect but which is not a domicile ruler in Fire, becomes the participating ruler.
  • For nocturnal Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn), Dorotheus uses as his day ruler VENUS which rules the fixed sign Taurus, and as his night ruler the MOON which is exalted in Taurus.  Mars, which is exalted in Capricorn, becomes the participating ruler.  [It is notable that Mercury rules Virgo and is exalted there, but does not appear as a triplicity ruler of the Earth signs, probably because Mercury’s sect varies according to its position relative to the Sun.   Pingree, however, in his translation of the Arabic version of the Carmen Astrologicum does have the phrase, “in Virgo there is also a participation of Mercury,” so it appears that either Dorotheus or his Arabic translators considered the idea of Mercury as a triplicity ruler of the earth signs.  At least one modern practitioner of Hellenistic astrology, Rafael Gil Brand, uses Mercury in this way.]
  • For diurnal  Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius), Dorotheus uses as his day ruler SATURN, which is both exalted in Libra and ruler of the fixed sign Aquarius.  Mercury, as ruler of the air sign Gemini, becomes the night ruler even though it is of variable sect because there is no other choice among the possible planets to rule this sect.  Jupiter, as the remaining member of the diurnal sect but which is not a domicile ruler in Air, becomes the participating ruler.
  • For nocturnal Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces),  Dorotheus uses as his day ruler VENUS which is exalted in Pisces, and as his night ruler MARS which rules the fixed sign Scorpio.  Mars cannot be a day ruler because it belongs to the nocturnal sect and is quite malefic in a day chart.  The Moon, which rules Cancer, becomes the participating ruler because it is neither exalted nor the domicile ruler of a fixed sign in the Water triplicity.

It seems to me that Dorotheus’ system has a tightly reasoned logic, whereas Lilly’s system makes little astrological sense, especially as regards the water triplicity.  Why would an astrologer grant primary dignity to Mars as a day ruler of the water signs in a diurnal chart in which Mars is the malefic of the contrary sect and capable of such grand maleficence? Because Scorpio is a member of the water triplicity, Mars has some dignity as a participating triplicity ruler, and this does serve to mitigate its malevolence a bit in a day chart; but Mars remains the malefic of the contrary sect and an extremely problematic planet during daylight hours.


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Carl Jung’s letter about astrology

I was recently talking to a colleague about the views of psychoanalyst Carl Jung regarding astrology and thought it might be timely to post a letter he wrote in 1947 to  B.V. Raman, a Hindu astrologer who was editor of THE ASTROLOGICAL MAGAZINE, a Vedic astrology journal in India.  An original copy of this letter can be found at the site Carl Jung Depth Psychology.

Here is the text of the letter:

Kusnacht-Zch., September 6th, 1947.

To: Prof. B.V. Raman, Raman Publications, P.O. Malleswaram, Bangalore, India.

Dear Prof. Raman,

I haven’t yet received THE ASTROLOGICAL MAGAZINE, but I will answer your letter nevertheless.

Since you want to know my opinion about astrology I can tell you that I’ve been interested in this particular activity of the human mind for more than 30 years.  As I am a psychologist I’m chiefly interested in the particular light the horoscope sheds on certain complications in the character.

In cases of difficult psychological diagnosis I usually get a horoscope in order to have a further point of view from an entirely different angle.  I must say that I very often found that the astrological data elucidated certain points which I otherwise would have been unable to understand.  From such experiences I formed the opinion that astrology is of particular interest to the psychologist, since it contains a sort of psychological experience which we call “projected” -this means that we find the psychological facts as it were in the constellations.

This originally gave rise to the idea that these factors derive from the stars, whereas they are merely in a relation of synchronicity with them.  I admit that this is a very curious fact which throws a peculiar light on the structure of the human mind.

What I miss in astrological literature is chiefly the statistical method by which certain fundamental facts could be scientifically established.

Hoping that this answer meets your request, I remain

yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung

[Letters Volume 1, Page 475-476.]

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An Unexpected Visit

I have told this story before, but for some reason it’s been recently on my mind.  Back in 1967 when I was in graduate school in New York City, I had an experience which helped to cement my interest in astrology.  During the week before Thanksgiving a fellow graduate student, who was into astrology, offered to look at my birth chart.  After getting out her ephemeris and mumbling about my transits and the 11th house, she told me that I would have an unexpected visit from an old friend a few days before Thanksgiving.

To me this seemed highly unlikely since most of my friends were scattered across the country pursuing their own graduate studies, and none of them lived in NYC.   Nonetheless, on Monday evening, November 20, 1967, the doorbell to my apartment rang. An old friend from college had stopped by to say hello.  He was studying in Washington, DC, and was passing through NYC on his way home to Connecticut, where we both hailed from.  Needless to say, I was quite pleased by the unexpected visit but also astonished that my astrologer friend had made such an accurate and specific prediction.

In looking back, I don’t recall how she made her forecast, so I have tried to reconstruct it. Below is my natal chart inside (Whole Sign Houses) with the transits for Monday evening, November 20, 1967, at about 7 pm in NYC in the outside wheel.

Friends are an 11th house matter.  Leo rules my natal 11th house, which contains the planets Venus, Moon, Pluto and Mercury.

On Monday evening, November 20, 1967, the transiting Moon in activating by sextile my natal Sun which rules the Leo 11th house of friends.  The transiting Moon is also activating my natal Ascendant, which is being conjoined by transiting Venus.  Both the Moon and Venus occupy my 11th house natally.  I assume that my astrologer friend was focusing on transiting Venus conjoining my natal Ascendant at the beginning of Thanksgiving week that year, when she made her prediction.  Why an unexpected visit?  Perhaps she was looking at transiting Sun sextile transiting Uranus (surprises) at the same time.



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The Attack on Astrology and Academic Freedom in Spain

A recent article in El Confidencial, News of Galicia, reported that a Spanish university, UNED, had cancelled an astrology course due to pressure from a group of skeptics, expressed through social media.  At first the university lied about its motives, stating that the cancellation was due to technical problems.  Later, perhaps feeling guilty about abandoning the principle of academic freedom, the university officials admitted doing so to appease a group of skeptics whose belief system denigrates astrology.  All of this smacks of the Spanish Inquisition which suppressed beliefs that ran counter to the prevailing religious dogma of the time.


The doctrinal argument of the skeptics, Spanish astronomers, and Galician association of communicators of scientific culture is that “astrology is a superstition and as such lacks rational elements that justify its whimsical and always misleading claims”.  Obviously, this dogma of the skeptics would apply to all the world’s religions, for which there is no scientific evidence and which make unverifiable claims.  Therefore, UNED should also cease offering courses on world religions.  In addition, UNED should stop their offerings about mathematics because, as Gödel demonstrated in his incompleteness theorems in mathematical logic, there are inherent rational limitations of every formal axiomatic system containing basic arithmetic.  Courses in the fine arts should also be eliminated because, as everyone knows, the visual arts are merely pseudo-photography and do not portray reality as it really is.  Studies in ancient Latin and Greek should also be abandoned because many of the original texts are treatises on astrology and cannot be understood without systematic knowledge of astrology.

This incident is reminiscent of the 1975 doctrinal attack on astrology in the Humanist by a group of scientists who sought to curb interest in astrology because they were “eminent” scientists and therefore knew best what the rest of the human race ought to study.  The brilliant astronomer Carl Sagan refused to sign this manifesto because of its authoritarian tone and the fact that those scientists who did sign it had never studied astrology and were speaking simply out of their dogmatic beliefs and prejudices rather than hard evidence.  Sagan also pointed out that simply because scientists can’t explain something does not mean that an explanation will never be found.

In addition, Paul Feyerabend (1924 – 1994), Professor of Philosophy at University of California, Berkeley noted the marked similarities between the attack on astrology and the notorious Malleus Maleficarum published by the Roman Catholic Church published in 1484, outlining how to deal with witchcraft.  It appears that the skeptics of Spain are reviving the intolerance of the Spanish Inquisition.

In my opinion, in a free and open society, it is dangerous to allow a small group of believers in a philosophical position (in this case, the skeptics) to determine what the rest of the society is allowed to study and learn, based on the particular dogma which the skeptics happen to subscribe to.  Those of us who study astrology appreciate its beauty as a highly sophisticated and intricate philosophical system with an internal logical consistency.  A knowledge of astrology is fundamental to the study of the humanities and the symbolic nature of the human mind.  I doubt that any of the skeptics or astronomers who pressured UNED to abandon the astrology course have ever studied the subject but instead are simply expressing their beliefs and prejudices, which are based on their own unverifiable presuppositions about the nature of reality.  An article in The Local in 2014 reported that Spain’s brain drain is the worst in Western Europe.  With such attacks on academic freedom in Spain, is it any wonder that the brightest young minds of Spain are fleeing their country to work abroad?

The original manifesto from The Humanist of 1975 is worth reading, so I have reproduced it below with the compelling responses of Carl Sagan and Paul Feyerabend, who clearly demonstrate the ignorance of the “eminent” scientists who signed the document, which merely states their beliefs and prejudices against astrology and asks us to believe them because they know best what is valuable for the human race.

Objections to Astrology
A Statement by 186 Leading Scientists
(The following statement first appeared in The Humanist of September/October 1975.)

Scientists in a variety of fields have become concerned about the increased acceptance of astrology in many parts of the world. We, the undersigned – astronomers, astrophysicists, and scientists in other fields – wish to caution the public against the unquestioning acceptance of the predictions and advice given privately and publicly by astrologers. Those who wish to believe in astrology should realize that there is no scientific foundation for its tenets.In ancient times people believed in the predictions and advice of astrologers because astrology was part and parcel of their magical world view. They looked upon celestial objects as abodes or omens of the gods and, thus, intimately connected with events here on earth; they had no concept of the vast distances from the earth to the planets and stars. Now that these distances can and have been calculated, we can see how infinitesimally small are the gravitational and other effects produced by the distant planets and the far more distant stars. It is simply a mistake to imagine that the forces exerted by stars and planets at the moment of birth can in any way shape our futures. Neither is it true that the position of distant heavenly bodies make certain days or periods more favorable to particular kinds of action, or that the sign under which one was born determines one’s compatibility or incompatibility with other people.Why do people believe in astrology? In these uncertain times many long for the comfort of having guidance in making decisions. They would like to believe in a destiny predetermined by astral forces beyond their control. However, we must all face the world, and we must realize that our futures lie in ourselves, and not in the stars.One would imagine, in this day of widespread enlightenment and education, that it would be unnecessary to debunk beliefs based on magic and superstition. Yet, acceptance of astrology pervades modern society. We are especially disturbed by the continued uncritical dissemination of astrological charts, forecasts, and horoscopes by the media and by otherwise reputable newspapers, magazines, and book publishers. This can only contribute to the growth of irrationalism and obscurantism. We believe that the time has come to challenge directly, and forcefully, the pretentious claims of astrological charlatans.It should be apparent that those individuals who continue to have faith in astrology do so in spite of the fact that there is no verified scientific basis for their beliefs, and indeed that there is strong evidence to the contrary.Sponsoring Committee(Affiliations, as of 1975, given for identification only.)

Bart J. Bok, emeritus
Professor of Astronomy
University of ArizonaLawrence E. Jerome
Science Writer
Santa Clara, CaliforniaPaul Kurtz

Professor of Philosophy
SUNY at Buffalo

Signed by 183 others, including 18 Nobel Prizewinners

Response from Astronomer, Carl Sagan (1934-1996), who was invited to sign the statement:

“In the middle 1970s an astronomer I admire put together a modest manifesto called ‘Objections to Astrology’ and asked me to endorse it. I struggled with his wording, and in the end found myself unable to sign, not because I thought astrology has any validity whatever, but because I felt (and still feel) that the tone of the statement was authoritarian. It criticized astrology for having origins shrouded in superstition. But this is true as well for religion, chemistry, medicine and astronomy, to mention only four. The issue is not what faltering and rudimentary knowledge astrology came from, but what is its present validity. Then there was speculation on the psychological motivations of those who believe in astrology. These motivations – for example, the feeling of powerlessness in a complex, troublesome and unpredictable world – might explain why astrology is not generally given the sceptical scrutiny it deserves, but is quite peripheral to whether it works.

The statement stressed that we can think of no mechanism by which astrology could work. This is certainly a relevant point but by itself it’s unconvincing. No mechanism was known for continental drift (now subsumed in plate tectonics) when it was proposed by Alfred Wegener in the first quarter of the twentieth century to explain a range of puzzling data in geology and palaeontology. (Ore-bearing veins of rocks and fossils seemed to run continuously from eastern South America to West Africa; were the two continents once touching and the Atlantic Ocean new to our planet?) The notion was roundly dismissed by all the great geophysicists, who were certain that continents were fixed, not floating on anything, and therefore unable to ‘drift’. Instead, the key twentieth-century idea in geophysics turns out to be plate tectonics; we now understand that continental plates do indeed float and ‘drift’ (or better, are carried by a kind of conveyor belt driven by the great heat engine of the Earth’s interior), and all those great geophysicists were simply wrong. Objections to pseudoscience on the grounds of unavailable mechanism can be mistaken – although if the contentions violate well-established laws of physics, such objections of course carry great weight.”
~ Carl Sagan, “Objections to Astrology” (letter to the editor), The Humanist, vol.36, no 1 (January/February 1976) p.2 reprinted in The Demon-Haunted World pp.302-303 (1995)

Response from Paul Feyerabend (1924 – 1994), Professor of Philosophy at University of California, Berkeley

“Now what surprises the reader whose image of science has been formed by the customary eulogies which emphasize rationality, objectivity, impartiality and so on is the religious tone of the document, the illiteracy of the ‘arguments’ and the authoritarian manner in which the arguments are being presented. The learned gentlemen have strong convictions, they use their authority to spread these convictions (why 186 signatures if one has arguments?), they know a few phrases which sound like arguments, but they certainly do not know what they are talking about.1

Take the first sentence of the ‘Statement.’ It reads: ‘Scientists in a variety of fields have become concerned about the increased acceptance of astrology in many parts of the world.’

In 1484 the Roman Catholic Church published the Malleus Maleficarum, the outstanding textbook on witchcraft. The Malleus is a very interesting book. It has four parts: phenomena, aetiology, legal aspects, theological aspects of witchcraft. …”

“The book has an introduction, a bull by Pope Innocent VIII, issued in 1484. The bull reads ‘It has indeed come to our ears, not without afflicting us with bitter sorrow, that in …’ – and now comes the long list of countries and counties – ‘many persons of both sexes, unmindful of their own salvation have strayed from the Catholic Faith and have abandoned themselves to devils… ‘ and so on. The words are almost the same as gthe words in the beginning of the ‘Statement,’ and so are the sentiments expressed. Both the Pope and ‘the 186 leading scientists’ deplore the increasing popularity of what they think are disreputable views. But what a difference in literacy and scholarship!

Comparing the Malleus with accounts of contemporary knowledge the reader can easily verify that the Pope and his learned authors knew what they were talking about. This cannot be said of the scientists. They neither know the subject they attack, astrology, nor those parts of their own science that they undermine their attack. …

We see: the judgement of the ‘186 leading scientists’ rests on the antedeluvian anthropology, on ignorance of more recent results in their own fields (astronomy, biology, and the connection between the two) as well as failure to percieve the implications of the result they do know. It shows the extent to which scientists are prepared to assert their authority even in areas in which they have no knowledge whatsoever.”

    Feyerabend critiques the content:
  1. The poor use of English with expressions like “… dealt a serious death blow”. Is there any other kind of death blow?
  2. The criticism of the dictum that the stars incline, but do not compel overlooks modern hereditary theory (for example).
  3. The statement claims that “Psychologists find no evidence that astrology is of any value” and that a horoscope is a substitute for “honest and sustained thinking”. What about the reliance upon psychological tests which long ago have become a substitute for “honest and sustained thinking” in evaluation of all people of all ages?
  4. “As regards the magical origin of astrology one need only remark that science once was very closely connected with magic and must be rejected on these grounds.”

Feyeraband is also critical of astrology and concludes “… It is interesting to see how closely both parties approach each other in ignorance, conceit and the wish for easy power over minds.”


1. This is quite literally true. When a representative of the BBC wanted to interview some of the Nobel Prize Winners, they declined with the remark that they had never studied astrology and had no idea of its details.

From Philosophy of Science and the Occult (1982) edited by Patrick Grim, Suny Press. pp.19-23  The Strange Case of Astrology quoted from Science in a Free Society (1978) Paul Feyerabend, published by NLB, London



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Mystery Solved: the USA Gemini Rising Chart

For years I have used a Gemini rising chart for the July 4, 1776 birth of the nation.  I learned this technique many years ago from astrologer Don Jacobs (“Moby Dick the Astrologer”).  Don’s son Jayj worked with his dad in making predictions based on this 7 Gemini 35 rising chart and reported a remarkable accuracy rate: “Don ´Moby Dick` The Astrologer Jacobs- my dad- and I, and all my subsequent partners have used 7 Gemini 35 for the US Ascendant on July 4, 1776. Our media measured accuracy rate of >95% validates that chart & Asc.”

When I first got interested in astrology back in the 1950s, I read the books by Evangeline Adams in the public library.  I was particularly struck by her 1930 prediction that America would enter into another war when Uranus returned to Gemini in the early 1940’s.  She was using a Gemini rising chart for 3:03 a.m. as the basis of this prediction.  This chart has 20 degrees of Gemini rising with Mars on the ASC.  Over the years I have puzzled about the origin of this chart because it does not match the historical events of the day.  It occurred to me that it must be a symbolic chart rather than the horoscope of a particular event which occurred on July 4, 1776.

In mundane astrology, the common practice for centuries has been to use eclipses and ingress charts to predict world events.  It turns out that Evangeline Adam’s USA chart with 20 Gemini 26 rising has virtually the exact Ascendant and MC as the Solar Eclipse of August 14, 1776 in Philadelphia. In the following graphic the chart is calculated for maximum eclipse time.


It seems clear that Adams took the house cusps from the partial solar eclipse in Philadelphia at the end of the summer of 1776 and used the 3:03 AM time on July 4, 1776 to produce a USA birth chart with the same house structure.  Most likely she chose the August eclipse because the Declaration of Independence was still in the process of being signed by all the states at that time.  The eclipse chart has 20 Gemini 34 rising; Adam’s chart has 20 Gemini 26 rising, but she appears to have rounded the time to the nearest minute.  The difference between the Ascendants of the two charts is a mere 08′ of arc.

What about the Don Jacobs 7 Gemini 35 rising chart for the USA?  Again, I have puzzled about this chart for many years.  After realizing that Adams used the August solar eclipse of 1776 to generate her 20 Gemini 26 USA chart, I wondered if the originator of the 7 Gemini 39 USA chart had also used either an eclipse or an ingress.  A little investigation revealed that the Summer Solstice Ingress in June of 1776, just three weeks before the July 4th date, has an uncanny resemblance to the Jacobs’ Gemini rising chart, except that it has the opposite sign Sagittarius rising in the same degree of that sign.  See the following graphic.


It appears that the person who originated this version of the Gemini rising chart for the USA took the Descendant of the June 20, 1776 Summer Solstice (Cancer Ingress) and used it as the Ascendant of the July 4, 1776 chart for the birth of the nation. The Cancer Ingress chart for Philadelphia on June 20, 1776 has 7 Sagittarius 39 rising whereas the USA chart used by Don and Jayj Jacobs has 7 Gemini 35 rising.  Perhaps the symbolism is that the ASC of the Cancer Ingress represents the old nation (a British colony) and the Descendant of this chart becomes the “equal but opposite” 7th house independent new nation, the United States of America.

So the mystery of the USA Gemini rising chart may finally be solved.  The one used by Evangeline Adams is based on the Solar Eclipse of August 14, 1776; and the other common chart, used by Don Jacobs is based on the Cancer Ingress chart of June 20, 1776 in Philadelphia whose Descendant becomes the Ascendant of the new nation.  Like Don and Jayj Jacobs, I have found the 7 Gemini 35 chart to be extremely reliable in making predictions about the USA.  Given the long tradition of using solar ingresses into cardinal signs and solar eclipses to predict events in mundane astrology, it is not surprising that both these charts yield impressive results.

The Gemini rising chart that most closely matches the horizon of the June 20th Cancer Ingress in Philadelphia would be for 2:14:29 AM, which has an ASC of a tiny 04′ of arc more than the Don Jacobs’ chart.  My own preference has been an ASC of 7 Gemini 27, based on my own experience with this chart.


Interestingly, the famous Sibly chart, which the British astrologer set for roughly 10 PM in the UK, has 19 Aquarius 49 rising in London.  This is equivalent to a time of 21:53 UT or 4:53 PM LMT in Philadelphia.  At 4:47 PM LMT in Philadelphia the Ascendant was at 7 Sagittarius 39, as it was in the Cancer ingress chart.  Here is an image of the Sibly chart cast for London with an ASC fo 19 AQ 49 from the page


If you try to reproduce Sibly’s chart, it becomes clear that his calculations were not very accurate.  For example, his planetary positions are different from those in a modern ephemeris.  He indicates that it is a 10 PM chart, but the ASC he uses is for 9:53 PM in the UK.  We cannot rule out the idea that Sibly chose an Ascendant for this mundane chart from the Cancer Ingress.  If he were using the ASC of the Summer Solstice in London, the ASC would have been 17 Aquarius 00, which corresponds to 9:47 PM LMT on July 4, 1776 in London.  There is only a difference of 6 minutes between these two Ascendants, which leads me to suspect that Sibly was taking the horizon of the Cancer Ingress and using it to erect a chart for the Declaration of Independence.

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