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Alan Leo

Alan Leo

Alan Leo, born William Frederick Allan, (Westminster, 7 August 1860 – Bude, 30 August 1917), was a prominent British astrologer, author, publisher, astrological data collector and theosophist. He is often referred to as “the father of modern astrology”.

His work stimulated a revival of astrology in the Western world after its decline at the end of the 17th century. Leo was a devout theosophist and he worked many of its religious concepts such as karma and reincarnation into his astrology. He used the Theosophical Society’s vast international connections to publish, translate and disseminate his work across Europe and America.

Astrological technique and influence

Leo, who took the name of his sun-sign as a pseudonym, is credited with starting the movement towards a more psychologically-oriented horoscope analysis in astrology, being the first astrologer to argue for a loose interpretation of possible trends of experience rather than the specific prediction of events. His influence has been described as marking a ‘turning point’ in horoscope delineation, because, as astrological historian James Holden explains:

Thereafter, what has been more recently called “event-oriented” astrology gradually receded in favor of character analysis and vague descriptions of possible areas of psychological harmony or stress.

In 1890, Leo, invited George R.S. Mead to found an occult lodge in Brixton, South London. Towards the end of his life, in 1909, and again in 1911, Leo travelled with his wife to India where he studied Indian astrology. As a result of his studies in India, he later attempted to incorporate portions of Indian astrology into the western astrological model.

Leo’s book The Art of Synthesis (1912) was a probable influence on Gustav Holst’s work The Planets. In this book, Leo gave the planets descriptions such as “Mars the Energiser”.

In 1915 Leo founded the Astrological Lodge of London.

Legal controversies and death

In 1914, aged 54, Leo faced prosecution against the charge that he “did unlawfully pretend to tell fortunes” through astrology. The case was dismissed for lack of evidence, but it led to Leo’s belief that astrology needed to be revised to be legitimised. His advice to fellow astrologers was:

Let us part company with the fatalistic astrologer who prides himself on his predictions and who is ever seeking to convince the world that in the predictive side of Astrology alone shall we find its value. We need not argue the point as to its reality, but instead make a much-needed change in the word and call Astrology the science of tendencies.

In 1917 Leo stood trial again on a similar charge. Despite his insistence that he told only “tendencies” and not “fortunes”, he lost his case and was fined £5 plus costs. Leo was convicted of fortune-telling on 16 July 1917. He died a few weeks later from an apoplexy (cerebral haemorrhage), at 10:00 am on 30 August 1917, whilst on a holiday at Bude in Cornwall, which was intended to restore his health after the ordeals of the trial. He had used the ‘holiday’ as a period in which he rewrote hundreds of pages of astrological text to “recast the whole system and make it run more along the lines of character reading and less as the assertion of an inevitable destiny”, despite being warned by his wife that “he needed rest badly after the worry and anxiety of the law case”, and was overworking himself and heading for a breakdown. After his sudden death the rewriting of his work was completed by his friend and colleague H.S. Greene. Greene also remarked on how the 1917 prosecution had caused worry for Leo during the process of the trial.

Works

  • Practical Astrology.
  • The Astrologer’s Magazine, edited by Alan Leo, Vol. IV (1894) Vol. V series 1895
  • What is the Horoscope and How is it Cast. N.p., 1902.
  • How to Judge a Nativity. 2 vols. 1904. Reprint, London: Modern Astrology Office, 1928.
  • Astrology for All series 1903–.
  • The Progressed Horoscope. London: Fowler 1906.
  • Horary Astrology. London: Modern Astrology Office, 1909.
  • The Key to your own Nativity. London: Modern Astrology Office, 1910.
  • The Art of Synthesis. Originally published 1912 as “How to Judge a Nativity” in the Astrology for All series. London: Fowler 1968.
  • Casting the Horoscope. London: Modern Astrology Office, 1912.
  • Esoteric Astrology, first published 1913. Destiny Books, Rochester, Vermont, 1989.
  • Alan Leo’s Dictionary of Astrology, edited and completed by Vivian E. Robson. London 1929.
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H. Emilie Cady

Harriet Emilie Cady

Harriet Emilie Cady (July 12, 1848 – January 3, 1941) was an American homeopathic physician and author of New Thought spiritual writings. Her 1896 book Lessons in Truth, A Course of Twelve Lessons in Practical Christianity is now considered one of the core texts on Unity Church teachings. It is the most widely read book in that movement. It has sold over 1.6 million copies since its first publication, and has been translated into eleven languages and braille.

Biography

She was born on July 12, 1848, in Dryden, New York, to Oliver Barlow Cady and Cornelia A. Philips. Cady’s first job was as a schoolteacher in a one-room schoolhouse in her hometown. In the late 1860s, she decided to pursue the field of medicine, and enrolled in the Homeopathic Medical College of the State of New York. She graduated in 1871 and became one of the first woman physicians in America.

Spiritual development and writing career

Introduced to the teachings of Albert Benjamin Simpson, Cady became deeply involved in spiritual and metaphysical studies. She was inspired and influenced by Biblical teachings and the philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson. She was taught by Emma Curtis Hopkins, the New Thought “teacher of teachers” and a student of Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy.

Cady associated with several prominent figures in the New Thought movement of the time, including: Emma Curtis Hopkins, Divine Science minister Emmet Fox, Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, and Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, co-founders of Unity Church. Finding The Christ in Ourselves, a pamphlet she had written and sent unsolicited to Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, was published by them in the October 1891 issue of Thought. Beginning in 1892, a series of articles titled Lessons in Truth by Dr. Cady were published in Unity magazine. This material later was compiled into a book and was the first book Unity published.

Death

Cady died January 3, 1941, in Manhattan, New York City.

Books

  • Lessons in Truth, A Course of Twelve Lessons in Practical Christianity
  • How I Used Truth
  • God, a present help
  • The Complete Works of H. Emilie Cady
  • Coming into Freedom: Emilie Cady’s Lessons in Truth for the 21st Century Ruth L. Miller Pd.D.
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Raphael

Robert Cross Smith (1795-1832) was an English astrologer, writing under the pseudonym of “Raphael“.

Smith was born in Bristol on March 19, 1795. He married in 1820 and moved to London, where he became interested in astrology. Together with G. W. Graham, he published a book on geomancy in 1822.

Smith began to edit a periodical entitled The Struggling Astrologer in 1824, but failed to receive enough subscribers and the periodical had to be discontinued after a few issues. He collected the issues of the failed periodical in a volume entitled The Astrologer Of The Nineteenth Century in the same year. The volume claimed to be the “sixth edition”, but it is believed that editions one to five never existed. A substantially enlarged edition appeared in 1825 as the “seventh edition”, with additional material attributed to “Merlinus Anglicus Junior” (Merlinus Anglicus Junior: The English Merlin Revived was the title of a 1644 book by William Lilly). It was printed by Knight & Lacey of London.

From 1827 until his death in 1832, he edited an astrological almanac, entitled The Prophetic Messenger. Also published by Smith was The Familiar Astrologer and A Manual of Astrology, both in 1828.

Smith died on 26 February 1832 in London. His almanac continued to be edited as Raphael’s Ephemeris and would become a standard work in British and US American astrology. Raphael’s Ephemeris popularized the system of Placidian system of astrological houses in the English-speaking world and in modern western astrology in general.

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Astrology History

Many cultures have attached importance to astronomical events, and the Indians, Chinese, and Maya developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. In the West, astrology most often consists of a system of horoscopes purporting to explain aspects of a person’s personality and predict future events in their life based on the positions of the sun, moon, and other celestial objects at the time of their birth. The majority of professional astrologers rely on such systems

Astrology has been dated to at least the 2nd millennium BCE, with roots in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. A form of astrology was practised in the first dynasty of Mesopotamia (1950–1651 BCE). Chinese astrology was elaborated in the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BCE). Hellenistic astrology after 332 BCE mixed Babylonian astrology with Egyptian Decanic astrology in Alexandria, creating horoscopic astrology. Alexander the Great’sconquest of Asia allowed astrology to spread to Ancient Greece and Rome. In Rome, astrology was associated with ‘Chaldean wisdom’. After the conquest of Alexandria in the 7th century, astrology was taken up by Islamic scholars, and Hellenistic texts were translated into Arabic and Persian. In the 12th century, Arabic texts were imported to Europe and translated into Latin. Major astronomers including Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler and Galileo practised as court astrologers. Astrological references appear in literature in the works of poets such as Dante Alighieri and Geoffrey Chaucer, and of playwrights such as Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare.

Throughout most of its history, astrology was considered a scholarly tradition. It was accepted in political and academic contexts, and was connected with other studies, such as astronomy, alchemy, meteorology, and medicine. At the end of the 17th century, new scientific concepts in astronomy and physics (such as heliocentrism and Newtonian mechanics) called astrology into question. Astrology thus lost its academic and theoretical standing, and common belief in astrology has largely declined.

Ancient world

Astrology, in its broadest sense, is the search for meaning in the sky. Early evidence for humans making conscious attempts to measure, record, and predict seasonal changes by reference to astronomical cycles, appears as markings on bones and cave walls, which show that lunar cycles were being noted as early as 25,000 years ago. This was a first step towards recording the Moon’s influence upon tides and rivers, and towards organising a communal calendar. Farmers addressed agricultural needs with increasing knowledge of the constellations that appear in the different seasons—and used the rising of particular star-groups to herald annual floods or seasonal activities. By the 3rd millennium BCE, civilisations had sophisticated awareness of celestial cycles, and may have oriented temples in alignment with heliacal risings of the stars.

Scattered evidence suggests that the oldest known astrological references are copies of texts made in the ancient world. The Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa thought to be compiled in Babylon around 1700 BCE. A scroll documenting an early use of electional astrology is doubtfully ascribed to the reign of the Sumerian ruler Gudea of Lagash (c. 2144 – 2124 BCE). This describes how the gods revealed to him in a dream the constellations that would be most favourable for the planned construction of a temple. However, there is controversy about whether these were genuinely recorded at the time or merely ascribed to ancient rulers by posterity. The oldest undisputed evidence of the use of astrology as an integrated system of knowledge is therefore attributed to the records of the first dynasty of Mesopotamia (1950–1651 BCE). This astrology had some parallels with Hellenistic Greek (western) astrology, including the zodiac, a norming point near 9 degrees in Aries, the trine aspect, planetary exaltations, and the dodekatemoria (the twelve divisions of 30 degrees each). The Babylonians viewed celestial events as possible signs rather than as causes of physical events.

The system of Chinese astrology was elaborated during the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BCE) and flourished during the Han Dynasty (2nd century BCE to 2nd century CE), during which all the familiar elements of traditional Chinese culture – the Yin-Yang philosophy, theory of the five elements, Heaven and Earth, Confucian morality – were brought together to formalise the philosophical principles of Chinese medicine and divination, astrology and alchemy.

Ancient objections

Cicero stated the twins objection (that with close birth times, personal outcomes can be very different), later developed by Saint Augustine. He argued that since the other planets are much more distant from the earth than the moon, they could have only very tiny influence compared to the moon’s. He also argued that if astrology explains everything about a person’s fate, then it wrongly ignores the visible effect of inherited ability and parenting, changes in health worked by medicine, or the effects of the weather on people.

Plotinus argued that since the fixed stars are much more distant than the planets, it is laughable to imagine the planets’ effect on humankind should depend on their position with respect to the zodiac. He also argues that the interpretation of the moon’s conjunction with a planet as good when the moon is full, but bad when the moon is waning, is clearly wrong, as from the moon’s point of view, half of her surface is always in sunlight; and from the planet’s point of view, waning should be better, as then the planet sees some light from the moon, but when the moon is full to us, it is dark, and therefore bad, on the side facing the planet.

Favorinus argued that it was absurd to imagine that stars and planets would affect human bodies in the same way as they affect the tides, and equally absurd that small motions in the heavens cause large changes in people’s fates. Sextus Empiricus argued that it was absurd to link human attributes with myths about the signs of the zodiac. Carneades argued that belief in fate denies free will and morality; that people born at different times can all die in the same accident or battle; and that contrary to uniform influences from the stars, tribes and cultures are all different.

Hellenistic Egypt

In 525 BCE, Egypt was conquered by the Persians. The 1st century BCE Egyptian Dendera Zodiac shares two signs – the Balance and the Scorpion – with Mesopotamian astrology.

With the occupation by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, Egypt became Hellenistic. The city of Alexandria was founded by Alexander after the conquest, becoming the place where Babylonian astrology was mixed with Egyptian Decanic astrology to create Horoscopic astrology. This contained the Babylonian zodiac with its system of planetary exaltations, the triplicities of the signs and the importance of eclipses. It used the Egyptian concept of dividing the zodiac into thirty-six decans of ten degrees each, with an emphasis on the rising decan, and the Greek system of planetary Gods, sign rulership and four elements. 2nd century BCE texts predict positions of planets in zodiac signs at the time of the rising of certain decans, particularly Sothis. The astrologer and astronomer Ptolemy lived in Alexandria. Ptolemy’s work the Tetrabiblos formed the basis of Western astrology, and, “…enjoyed almost the authority of a Bible among the astrological writers of a thousand years or more.”

Greece and Rome

The conquest of Asia by Alexander the Great exposed the Greeks to ideas from Syria, Babylon, Persia and central Asia. Around 280 BCE, Berossus, a priest of Bel from Babylon, moved to the Greek island of Kos, teaching astrology and Babylonian culture. By the 1st century BCE, there were two varieties of astrology, one using horoscopes to describe the past, present and future; the other, theurgic, emphasising the soul’s ascent to the stars. Greek influence played a crucial role in the transmission of astrological theory to Rome.

The first definite reference to astrology in Rome comes from the orator Cato, who in 160 BCE warned farm overseers against consulting with Chaldeans, who were described as Babylonian ‘star-gazers’. Among both Greeks and Romans, Babylonia (also known as Chaldea) became so identified with astrology that ‘Chaldean wisdom’ became synonymous with divination using planets and stars. The 2nd-century Roman poet and satirist Juvenal complains about the pervasive influence of Chaldeans, saying, “Still more trusted are the Chaldaeans; every word uttered by the astrologer they will believe has come from Hammon’s fountain.”

One of the first astrologers to bring Hermetic astrology to Rome was Thrasyllus, astrologer to the emperor Tiberius, the first emperor to have had a court astrologer, though his predecessor Augustus had used astrology to help legitimise his Imperial rights.

Medieval world

Hindu

The main texts upon which classical Indian astrology is based are early medieval compilations, notably the Bṛhat Parāśara Horāśāstra, and Sārāvalī by Kalyāṇavarma. The Horāshastra is a composite work of 71 chapters, of which the first part (chapters 1–51) dates to the 7th to early 8th centuries and the second part (chapters 52–71) to the later 8th century. The Sārāvalī likewise dates to around 800 CE. English translations of these texts were published by N.N. Krishna Rau and V.B. Choudhari in 1963 and 1961, respectively.

Islamic

Astrology was taken up by Islamic scholars following the collapse of Alexandria to the Arabs in the 7th century, and the founding of the Abbasid empire in the 8th. The second Abbasid caliph, Al Mansur (754–775) founded the city of Baghdad to act as a centre of learning, and included in its design a library-translation centre known as Bayt al-Hikma ‘House of Wisdom’, which continued to receive development from his heirs and was to provide a major impetus for Arabic-Persian translations of Hellenistic astrological texts. The early translators included Mashallah, who helped to elect the time for the foundation of Baghdad, and Sahl ibn Bishr, (a.k.a. Zael), whose texts were directly influential upon later European astrologers such as Guido Bonatti in the 13th century, and William Lilly in the 17th century. Knowledge of Arabic texts started to become imported into Europe during the Latin translations of the 12th century.

Europe

The first astrological book published in Europe was the Liber Planetis et Mundi Climatibus (“Book of the Planets and Regions of the World”), which appeared between 1010 and 1027 AD, and may have been authored by Gerbert of Aurillac. Ptolemy’s second century AD Tetrabiblos was translated into Latin by Plato of Tivoli in 1138. The Dominican theologian Thomas Aquinas followed Aristotle in proposing that the stars ruled the imperfect ‘sublunary’ body, while attempting to reconcile astrology with Christianity by stating that God ruled the soul. The thirteenth century mathematician Campanus of Novara is said to have devised a system of astrological houses that divides the prime vertical into ‘houses’ of equal 30° arcs, though the system was used earlier in the East. The thirteenth century astronomer Guido Bonatti wrote a textbook, the Liber Astronomicus, a copy of which King Henry VII of England owned at the end of the fifteenth century.

In Paradiso, the final part of the Divine Comedy, the Italian poet Dante Alighieri referred “in countless details” to the astrological planets, though he adapted traditional astrology to suit his Christian viewpoint, for example using astrological thinking in his prophecies of the reform of Christendom.

Medieval objections

In the seventh century, Isidore of Seville argued in his Etymologiae that astronomy described the movements of the heavens, while astrology had two parts: one was scientific, describing the movements of the sun, the moon and the stars, while the other, making predictions, was theologically erroneous. In contrast, John Gower in the fourteenth century defined astrology as essentially limited to the making of predictions. The influence of the stars was in turn divided into natural astrology, with for example effects on tides and the growth of plants, and judicial astrology, with supposedly predictable effects on people. The fourteenth century sceptic Nicole Oresme however included astronomy as a part of astrology in his Livre de divinacions. Oresme argued that current approaches to prediction of events such as plagues, wars, and weather were inappropriate, but that such prediction was a valid field of inquiry. However, he attacked the use of astrology to choose the timing of actions (so-called interrogation and election) as wholly false, and rejected the determination of human action by the stars on grounds of free will. The friar Laurens Pignon (c. 1368–1449) similarly rejected all forms of divination and determinism, including by the stars, in his 1411 Contre les DevineursThis was in opposition to the tradition carried by the Arab astronomer Albumasar (787-886) whose Introductorium in Astronomiam and De Magnis Coniunctionibus argued the view that both individual actions and larger scale history are determined by the stars.

Renaissance and Early Modern

Renaissance scholars commonly practised astrology. Gerolamo Cardano cast the horoscope of king Edward VI of England, while John Dee was the personal astrologer to queen Elizabeth I of England. Catherine de Medici paid Michael Nostradamus in 1566 to verify the prediction of the death of her husband, king Henry II of France made by her astrologer Lucus Gauricus. Major astronomers who practised as court astrologers included Tycho Brahe in the royal court of Denmark, Johannes Kepler to the Habsburgs, Galileo Galilei to the Medici, and Giordano Bruno who was burnt at the stake for heresy in Rome in 1600. The distinction between astrology and astronomy was not entirely clear. Advances in astronomy were often motivated by the desire to improve the accuracy of astrology.

Ephemerides with complex astrological calculations, and almanacs interpreting celestial events for use in medicine and for choosing times to plant crops, were popular in Elizabethan England. In 1597, the English mathematician and physician Thomas Hood made a set of paper instruments that used revolving overlays to help students work out relationships between fixed stars or constellations, the midheaven, and the twelve astrological houses. Hood’s instruments also illustrated, for pedagogical purposes, the supposed relationships between the signs of the zodiac, the planets, and the parts of the human body adherents believed were governed by the planets and signs. While Hood’s presentation was innovative, his astrological information was largely standard and was taken from Gerard Mercator’s astrological disc made in 1551, or a source used by Mercator.

English astrology had reached its zenith by the 17th century. Astrologers were theorists, researchers, and social engineers, as well as providing individual advice to everyone from monarchs downwards. Among other things, astrologers could advise on the best time to take a journey or harvest a crop, diagnose and prescribe for physical or mental illnesses, and predict natural disasters. This underpinned a system in which everything—people, the world, the universe—was understood to be interconnected, and astrology co-existed happily with religion, magic and science.

Enlightenment period and onwards

During the Enlightenment, intellectual sympathy for astrology fell away, leaving only a popular following supported by cheap almanacs. One English almanac compiler, Richard Saunders, followed the spirit of the age by printing a derisive Discourse on the Invalidity of Astrology, while in France Pierre Bayle’s Dictionnaire of 1697 stated that the subject was puerile. The Anglo-Irish satirist Jonathan Swift ridiculed the Whig political astrologer John Partridge.

Astrology saw a popular revival starting in the 19th century, as part of a general revival of spiritualism and—later, New Age philosophy, and through the influence of mass media such as newspaper horoscopes. Early in the 20th century the psychiatrist Carl Jung developed some concepts concerning astrology, which led to the development of psychological astrology.

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What is Astrology

astrology

Astrology is the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial objects as a means for divining information about human affairs and terrestrial events.  Astrology has been dated to at least the 2nd millennium BCE, and has its roots in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. Many cultures have attached importance to astronomical events, and some – such as the Indians, Chinese, and Maya – developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. Western astrology, one of the oldest astrological systems still in use, can trace its roots to 19th–17th century BCE Mesopotamia, from which it spread to Ancient Greece, Rome, the Arab world and eventually Central and Western Europe. Contemporary Western astrology is often associated with systems of horoscopes that purport to explain aspects of a person’s personality and predict significant events in their lives based on the positions of celestial objects; the majority of professional astrologers rely on such systems.

Throughout most of its history astrology was considered a scholarly tradition and was common in academic circles, often in close relation with astronomy, alchemy, meteorology, and medicine. It was present in political circles, and is mentioned in various works of literature, from Dante Alighieri and Geoffrey Chaucer to William Shakespeare, Lope de Vega and Calderón de la Barca. During the 20th century and following the wide-scale adoption of the scientific method, astrology has been challenged successfully on  both theoretical and experimental grounds, and has been shown to have no scientific validity or explanatory power. Astrology thus lost its academic and theoretical standing, and common belief in it has largely declined. While polling studies have demonstrated that approximately 25% of Americans, Canadians, and Britons say they continue to believe that star and planet positions affect their lives,astrology is now recognized as pseudoscience.

Etymology

The word astrology comes from the early Latin word astrologiawhich derives from the Greek ἀστρολογία—from ἄστρον astron (“star”) and -λογία -logia, (“study of”—”account of the stars”). Astrologia later passed into meaning ‘star-divination’ with astronomia used for the scientific term.