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Diploma Course in Medieval Astrology

Diploma Course in
Medieval Astrology
Robert Zoller
A New Library Publication

1st Edition 2002
New Library Limited
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London WC1N 3XX

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Diploma Course in Medieval Astrology
In 1993, I first released the course entitled Robert Zoller’s Medieval
Astrology Correspondence Course. In the intervening years, I have
continued translation of Latin texts and research into Medieval astrology.
This has resulted in the revision of many of my earlier works and to the
replacement of the original course with two others. Firstly, a Foundation
Course which leads to the Certification in Medieval Astrology (CMA)
and secondly, this more advanced course which leads to the award of the
Diploma in Medieval Astrology (DMA).
This new DMA course not only generally revises the old correspondence
course but also introduces completely new areas of learning. These include
chart calculation for natal charts and returns (“revolutions”), and a brief
discussion of the use of Primary Directions in longevity delineation and
prediction. In addition, from time to time, Academy Papers will be made
available on my website ( Some of these will
address mathematical subjects related to astrology such as cartography,
trigonometry, calendrics, and the use of the astrolabe. Others will relate
to astrological subjects proper such as Mundane astrology, Reception, the
Fixed Stars, and the North & South Nodes of the Moon.
It is important that the student grasp these subjects for while reliance can be
made on computer programmes which are competent aids in chart erection,
they are no substitute for the understanding of the mathematics that underpin
In addition, lessons on delineating and predicting marriage and children
have been included. These are based on the methods of Guido Bonatti’s
Liber astronomiae (thirteenth century), which I have worked with for some
years now. While it is correct that no technique in astrology is always 100%
reliable, you should find these methods to be consistently accurate at least
80% of the time.
Advantage is also being taken of the major new influence that the Internet
has had on teaching astrology. All of my revised works are available at and these should be consulted where the student
wishes to expand his or her knowledge. The serious student should not
confine him or herself to the course materials alone but make good use of
the other materials, articles and eBooks found at on the above Website.
Research and learning in this field is ever constant and we have not yet
reached a plateau but I and the staff at the Academy of Predictive Astrology
(based at the New Library in London) will endeavour to ensure that you are
kept up to date.


While you are doing this course, you are a member of the Academy and
should you experience any difficulties you should address them to the
Registrar at

I am extremely fortunate to have the assistance of a number of friends and
colleagues and the support of the very competent staff at the New Library
under the excellent direction of Luke Andrews the Registrar of the Academy
of Predictive Astrology.
I would also like to extend my particular thanks to Daniel Salt for his skill
and assistance in the creation of the audio lectures and to James Chapman
and the production team at Lovely Partners London for their high standards
and expertise.
Thanks also go to Mark Gemmill who has produced the diagrams, charts,
and tables included in this course. Mark’s attention to detail and artistic
abilities are greatly appreciated.
I should like to thank Mark Griffin for his double-checking of my calculations
and to Astrology House for permission to use the Janus fonts. Also I would
like to express my thanks to Hamish Saunders and Angela Thomas also of
Astrology House Auckland for their kind assistance and much appreciated
help over the years.
Lastly, but not least it is with ever increasing gratitude that I thank my wife
Diana and Torin who have been unstinting in their love and support making
this whole task the more easy and infinitely more fruitful.


Medieval Astrology and its Historical Development
You are about to embark on a course in Medieval astrology and so let us
begin with the question What is Medieval Astrology?
Medieval astrology is the astrology practiced from roughly 750 AD to the
Renaissance, circa 1500 AD, firstly by Arab and Persian astrologers; then
later (post 1100) by astrologers of Western Europe and astrologers of the
Byzantine Empire (in the East).
The astrology, which had been practiced in the Roman Empire, was the
creation of Greek speaking philosophers of the first to sixth centuries AD.
These “Greeks” based their creation upon astral omen lore reaching back
into the centuries before Christ and passed down to them from Egyptian,
Babylonian, and Persian sources. By the fourth century AD, astrology
was recognized as a science and influenced most religions in the Roman
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire circa 500 AD and the rise of
barbarian kingdoms of Western Europe (i.e. Italy, the Iberian Peninsula
regions of modern day Spain and Portugal, Gaul/France, Germany, the
low land countries of modern day Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, and
the British Isles) the astrological tradition was interrupted in Western and
Central Europe.
Meanwhile, in the Eastern Roman Empire (called the Byzantine), which
survived the Western Empire, astrology did not fare much better. There, for
the next two centuries the religious and political climate almost completely
suppressed the practice of astrology. Latin remained the language spoken in
the West but Greek was the language of the East in the Byzantine Empire.
In the seventh century, the Moslem Arabs conquered the Middle East and by
711 AD, they had extended their empire from the Iberian Peninsula in the
West to India in the East. Arabic was the language spoken in this new regime.
However, in the eighth century the Arabic rulers of the Moslem world
encouraged their intelligentsia to learn Greek and to absorb the scientific
lore of the Greeks, Persians, and Indians. In this way, Greek astrology, along
with other Greek sciences, came to be a feature of Arabic Islamic science.
Special Note: when discussing Arabic or Greek or Latin astrology
we must be clear about what we mean. These terms Arabic, Greek,
and Latin do not refer to the ethnicity or religion of the authors
of astrological texts but exclusively to the language, they used. In
Moslem regions, the dominant language was Arabic and so we speak
of Arabic astrology. In the Greek speaking regions of the Byzantine
Empire, we have Greek astrology and Latin astrology from the
In this course, we will focus on techniques drawn from the Latin texts.
Some of these are Latin translations of Arabic works dating back to the
eighth century, these I and some other scholars have then translated into
English. Others are Middle English works while still other works we
will draw upon are English translations of Greek texts dating from the


earliest centuries of the Christian era. Some of these works, particularly
those of Firmicus Maternus 1 and the Liber hermetis 2 contain material
possibly dating from as early as 200 BC.
All of these works taken together give us the comprehensive
insight that we need to synthesise and fully understand Predictive
astrology. Together, the material presented in this course represents
the astrological tradition from about 200 BC to 1700 AD. We
distinguish them by the language they have been communicated
to us in but in doing so we must understand that the sources upon
which they draw are often inter-linked.
For about six hundred years (500 - 1100 AD) the practise of astrology was
severely restricted in the Latin West. There are several reasons for this but
one of the most important is that, following the decline of the Western
Roman imperium c.500, there was a lack of mathematical education in these
Western Christian lands. Then around 1100 the West was awakened to the
need for science just as the Moslems had been in the eighth century. Scholars
in the West found that the Moslem East had cultivated astrology and related
sciences during those centuries when the West had lost its science and so
they began to translate Arabic scientific texts into Latin. The Byzantines
also revived their interest in astrology at this time. The result was a rebirth
of interest in astrology in the Latin West. This interest remained strong
for the next three centuries until the Renaissance (15th – 16th centuries)
when resurgence in Greek language studies led to a reassessment of Greek
astrological texts and techniques.
In the Renaissance, this increased attention devoted to the study of the Greek
astrological texts of Ptolemy and others coincided with a serious political
and military threat from Moslem Turkish expansionism and contributed to a
repudiation of all things “oriental,” that is, Arabic, Turkish or Moslem. The
Turkish expansionism threatened the very existence of Western Christian
Civilization. By 1500, the Turks were in Central Europe and controlled
the Balkans, Transylvania, Hungary, Wallachia, Moldavia, and Bulgaria,
and what are modern Macedonia, Romanian, and Bessarabia. They ruled
virtually everywhere from the upper east coast of the Adriatic (except that
narrow strip of coast which Venice had retained), as well as Syria, Iraq,
Egypt and North Africa as far west as Algeria and parts of Russia. Western
Europe was effectively isolated both culturally and economically, from
the Orient. The pro-Greek/anti-oriental tenor of the times led the Western
astrologers to look to Ptolemy and Greek astrological sources for assistance
in purging the Arabic accretions from what they believed was a superior
pristine Greek astrology.

Mathesis in eight books. Firmicus while writing in African Latin was Sicilian
(probably from Syracuse) and was fluent in Greek. But as pointed out it is
primarily called a Latin work because it is written in Latin, not because of the
ethnicity of the author nor the sources (Greek) that he is largely drawing upon.

Liber hermetis trismegisti in Abhandlungen der Bayerischen Akademie der
Wissenschaften (Neue Folge) 12, 1936.”Neue astrologisches texte des Hermes
Trismegistos” von Wilhelm Gundel.


This attempt to reform astrology by returning to its Greek origins began
in the fifteenth century with criticisms of contemporary astrological theory
and practice (e.g. Pico della Mirandola’s Disputatio contra astrologiam
divinatricem 3). It led, in the latter part of the fifteen century and in the
sixteenth century, to translations from the original Greek into Latin of
Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos (e.g. Quadripartium iudiciorum opus Claudii Ptolemei
Pheludiensis ab Joane Sieurro…Paris 1519 and Philip Melancthon’s 1553
edition 4 of this work, also bearing the Latin title, Quadripartium. Before the
fifteenth century, Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos was known only in Latin translations
of Arabic translations of the original Greek.5 The Arabic translations were
viewed as corrupted by the interpolation of material not found in the
original Greek Ptolemy. Bit by bit, those practices of Medieval astrology not
traceable to Greek antecedents came to be regarded with suspicion or were
just abandoned as Arabic distortions of the allegedly purer and somehow
better Greek astrology.
The seventeenth century saw the Scientific Revolution in Western Europe,
during which advances in mathematical physics and modern chemistry led
to the perception among many Western Intellectuals that in the not-toodistant future all the mysteries of Nature would be solved through reason
and experimental science. In the field of astronomy, the Heliocentric Theory
of Copernicus (1473-1543), first been published in 1543 (De revolutionibus
orbium coelestium) gained widespread acceptance and with it the Medieval
Geocentric Cosmology based upon Ptolemy was viewed by many as
This lead to major doubts about Judicial astrology (the casting of horoscopes
of individuals and nations for the purpose of predicting their fates), which
had traditionally rested upon Ptolemaic geocentric astronomy. It now
appeared that its astronomical basis had been pulled out from under it. In
continental Western Europe, Judicial astrology was on the wane and all but
died out between 1650 and 1700.
In England it continued but in a simplified form. The reason for this
survival in England is not entirely certain, but what is clear is that during
the eighteenth century Enlightenment, when the European and English
philosophers declared the advent of the Age of Reason, astrologers were
required by these new rationalists to express the principles of their Art in
scientific terms. This was a line followed by later generations of astrologers
right up to our own day 6.

Pico della Mirandola, Opera, Basel 1572.

For more on Melancthon’s astrological interests, see Thorndike, History of Magic
and Experimental Science, Columbia U. Press, NY, 1941, vol. V. pp. 378-405.

The first Latin translation of Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos or Quadripartitum seems
to have been made by Plato of Trivoli circa 1138 with further translation of the
commentary of Haly a century later.


See Zoller The Occult Sciences at



This imposition was impossible for the religionists. Christianity rests
upon the expression of belief and faith, rather than reason. The religionists
(especially the Protestants) endeavoured to render their faith as rational
as possible. They did this by accepting the natural laws discovered by
the scientists as part of God’s Law and by articulation of philosophical/
theological constructs such as “Natural Religion” and Idealist Philosophy.
Under the same pressure from this rising belief in reason and science, the
astrologers for the most part divided into two camps: the Scientific and
the Hermetic. The former stripped astrology of as many as possible of the
non-astronomical features (e.g. Arabic parts and signs); and distinguished
Natural astrology (the prediction of weather, earthquakes, epidemics,
volcanic eruptions, etc) from Judicial astrology (which they dismissed as
little more than “fortune telling”) 7. However, no matter how severe their
reconstruction in pursuit of making astrology scientific, they still failed to
achieve their objective of having mainstream scientists accepting astrology
as scientific. Meanwhile the Hermetic astrologers attempted to continue the
practice of astrological talismans, prediction, spiritism, magic, and alchemy.
This Hermetic astrology later fed into the Occult Revival of the mid to late
nineteenth century and largely contributed to astrology being banished to
Unfortunately for the Hermetic astrologers, the world was fast changing.
The eighteenth century saw both the French Revolution and Industrial
Revolution with their aftermaths that so altered European society. As a direct
result so to was the astrologer’s role in society changed.
In the preceding centuries, many astrologers were physicians, linguists,
and mathematicians. They were highly educated 8 and learned in theology,
philosophy, and observational astronomy. They worked for both the church
and the aristocracy, which were the governing classes of those times. Guido
Bonatti, whose work forms the core of this course, was himself a noble and
predicted for priests as to whether they would become bishops, cardinals
or even Pope. He also advised kings and members of the aristocracy, on
military, economic, and political affairs.
In the Middles Ages, society was based on an agrarian and mercantile
economy. This meant that most people were employed on the land and lived
in the countryside. Bonatti refers to them as rustici, populares, vulgus 9.
Natural astrology continued to flourish into the first third of the nineteenth century
in New England

In the Middle Ages, the astrologer was usually a cleric or at least church educated.
This was because there were few opportunities for education out side the Church.
Without education, one could not be an astrologer (this is still true today). At first
education was primarily reading and writing with rudimentary mathematics. In the
twelfth century, mathematical education had increased and in the following century,
we find the astrologer and Franciscan monk, Roger Bacon, exhorting the Pope to
emphasize mathematics as part of Christian education. We may also bring to mind
John Dee’s advocating that a similar program of mathematics be taught in England
circa 1600.

Guidonis Bonatti Liber Astronomiae Basel 1550, passim but especially in Pars IIII
columns 491-625


There was also a growing middle class emerging at this time, especially
in the cities, which would come to dominate their hinterlands and emerge
as centres of major affluence. Members of this middle class became quite
wealthy and powerful (Bonatti refers to them as magnates, i.e. great men)
and they too called upon the services of astrologers.
The Protestant Reformation (sixteenth century) broke the power of the
Roman Catholic Church in Northern Europe and England. This created
a political climate in Protestant areas favourable to the pursuit of secular
science. The later French Revolution (1789-1804) and the Napoleonic
era which followed it, continued this severe reduction in the power of
the Papacy in the Catholic countries, as it stripped the churches of assets,
severely reduced the priestly Estate and all but eradicated the nobility. The
astrologer’s traditional clientele, the aristocracy and the Church hierarchy
was destabilised and thus the role and influence of the astrologer was altered.
Those that continued to practise had to adapt to the changing times driven by
the growth of the modern Industrial State.
From 1804, the shift of power moved more in favour of the moneyed
bourgeoisie, as they became the focus of a new economy and of a new
politics. At the same time, increased literacy among the increasingly urbanbased workers, led to the rise of a pop-astrology, which reflected the interests
of a new social structure. Gone was the Medieval astrologer as military
adviser, theologian, philosopher, and scientist. Increasingly astrologers
were called upon to address middle class and working class interests.
Education in these new times was humanistic, rationalistic, and dominated
by the need for engineers, workers, tradesmen, labourers, managers, and
bankers. Classical studies (including the study of Latin, Greek, Hebrew and
the Antiquities) and the Liberal Arts were reduced to the rich man’s interest.
A degree in philosophy was not an avenue to wealth in this new society. All
one could hope to do was teach philosophy, go into theology and preach or
possibly enter publishing. The emphasis was on industry and the money
The thrust of nineteenth century education further advanced what had
already begun generations before. There was a continual moving away from
the kinds of studies that would have facilitated access to the primary texts
of both Greek astrology and of Arabo-Latin Medieval astrology. A direct
result of this was that when there was a revival in astrology in the mid to
late nineteenth century, there were few astrologers with the linguistic and
mathematical skills necessary to read the important texts.
Around 1825 a revival of interest in astrology and other occult arts began
to flourish in France and Germany spurred on by growing doubts about
“reason’s ability” to solve all of man’s problems and every mystery of
nature. Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1781) questioned whether reason
by itself could apprehend the Absolute (the Idealist code-word for God).
The European Intelligentsia split into two camps following the publication
of this idea. We can call these two camps the Rational Materialists and
the Transcendentalists (not to be confused with the American Spiritual
movement of the same name). The latter is exemplified by the Swabian
Poets of Germany (especially Uhland, Richter and Kerner). Engels and
Marx typify the former along with some capitalist apologists.


The Rationalist Materialists accepted Kant’s conclusion and held that since
Man’s reason could not discover the transcendent 10 it (the transcendent)
could simply be ignored. Man’s destiny was to work out his own future
through his own faculties, i.e. by the application of reason and materialist
The Transcendentalists repudiated the idea that the transcendent was beyond
human knowledge. They asserted the existence of a suprarational faculty
in man (intuition), which exhibited its operations in poetry, art, dreams,
psychic experiences, and magic. In short, all the things ignored by the
Enlightenment philosophies which sought the good through reason alone.
These Transcendentalists sought to investigate mental phenomena, dreams,
mystical experience, spiritualism, mesmerism, and various manifestations of
“the irrational”. The inchoate interest in psychology received a boost from
these thinkers. However, the limits of the human mind’s creative ability and
a precise definition of just what “psychology” meant were by no means
ascertained. Thus, in the nineteenth century this was reflected in astrologers’
growing interest in “psychology” although that interest had little to do with
what is today known as clinical psychology. Rather, it was the examination
of the permeable borderline between hypnosis, dreams, mysticism, and
magic. Later 11 some transcendentalists attempted to construct astrology as a
mathematical (and hence precise) occult art 12.
Astrologers in nineteenth century England seem to have very often been
part of what we today would call the “alternative culture.” Many were
practitioners of homeopathy, herbalism and advocates of various other
progressive ideologies, e.g. socialism, abolitionism, spiritualism, and
theosophy. The same pattern developed in the other Western states in the
latter nineteenth century. In this way astrology became a vehicle for the
propagation of alternative social and medical ideas and progressive politics.
This trend became so entrenched that it continues unrecognised by most
astrologers and astro-hobbyists of today. If they recognize any millenarian,
utopian, or progressive political idealism in contemporary astrology at all,
it is glibly shrugged off as “Uranian” or “Neptunian” and remains a largely
unconscious factor colouring their judgments and consensus reality.
Another important development of the nineteenth century was the
publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) and his Descent
of Man (1871). These two books engendered a storm of controversy in the
second half of the nineteenth century. They proposed the theory that the
diversity of species in the vegetable and animal kingdoms was a result of
adaptation to physical environmental conditions over vast periods of time
and that humans were descended from primates.
The Transcendent was the term Kant used to denote that which surpassed his
own list of categories. It was not an object capable of experience


From about the 1840’s.

In the United States and England, this movement seems to have been
connected with the Swedenborgian Church; possibly with its “unchurched”
Swedenborgians (i.e. those proponents of Swedenborg’s doctrines who did not
attend church). Ebeneezer Sibly (1752-99) and his brother Manoah were both
Swedenborgians and astrologers. See



The Theory of Evolution was propounded by Darwin (1809-1882) to account
for physical differences in plant and animal species. Herbert Spencer (18201903) extended 13 this concept of evolution to sociology and psychology;
hence, some people 14 now speak of the “evolution of societies” and the
“evolution of consciousness”. The Theory of Evolution was attractive to
the rationalist materialists, who sought an organizing principle in organisms
(other than God), which could account for the movement from indefinite
homogeneity to definite heterogeneity (e.g. from a single celled creature to a
complex, differentiated creature such as man).
The Darwin-Spencer Theory of Evolution was so attractive and progressive
to occultists and astrologers that by 1875 advocates of esoteric and occult
philosophy such as Madame Blavatsky (1831, Russia – 1891, London)
found it necessary to give the concept of evolution a central role in their
teachings. By the 1880’s the Chicago based Order of the Magi was teaching
that socialism would be inevitable in the United States by the 1940’s
because of the combined forces of evolution, astrology and mathematics.
A hundred years later, the United States is still a capitalist state but the idea
that “evolution” is essential to astrology is unquestioned by many American
astrologers 15.
In the twentieth century, Western astrology had largely become at best a
secular humanistic tool in the hands of Utopian theorists and at worst simply
entertainment. Divorced from the fundamental business of describing what
is and tied to disguised political predictions of what will be, astrology
became increasingly an exercise in evangelising what ought to be .
The advent of Psychological astrology (in particular, “Jungian”) led many
astrologers further away from the confrontation with what objectively is,
to an inner, subjective psychological realm adorned with timely symbols
and archetypes of social, political, and “spiritual” sub doctrines. In this
labyrinth, one symbol is used to explicate another in an infinite regress that
is rarely if ever firmly attached to concrete reality. In this climate, Western
(psychological) astrology totally lost any capability of describing objective
reality or of predicting the future 16.
Principles of Psychology (1855); Principles of Sociology in 3 vols: 1876, 1882,

It is a common practise amongst students of the Psychological School of
astrology to excuse the absence of the ability of modern-day astrologers to
predict due to this “evolution of consciousness”, as expressed by Liz Greene in
The Astrology of Fate , London, 1984. This opinion is frequently voiced by followers
of Marc Edmund Jones, who asserted that astrology was not about prediction, but
rather about potentials. See Astrology How and Why It Works, p. 248-249. Cf Dane
Rudhyar, The Astrology of Personality, originally 1936, Aurora Press 1991, Santa
Fe, New Mexico, p. 401 et seq. See also


Cf. Marc Edmund Jones, Occult Philosophy, originally 1947, 1977 by Shambala
Publications, Boulder Colorado, p. 264; 273ff., 282ff., 346-7. Cf also Pluto, The
Evolutionary Journey of the Soul, by Jeff Green, Llwellyn, 1994. See also http:// and http://new15

See Astrology and Wisdom



By the end of the twentieth century mainstream Western astrology had gone
as far as it could go into the cul de sac of idiosyncretism and psychology
and, due to the political and social events of the post modern age, was no
longer useful to the society at large as a vehicle for disseminating progressive
social visions. The recovery of Medieval and Ancient astrology has in the
last quarter of the twentieth century paved the way for a reappraisal of the
metaphysical question of how objective reality comes-to-be, from whence
it comes and whither it goes. This reappraisal involves a reconsideration
of philosophies such as Neo-Platonism, Idealism, Materialism and the
Kabbalah, as well as an investigation into the testimonies of the mystics and
the theories of the Pythagoreans. It also directs those with an inquiring mind
to the works of earlier pre-eminent astrologers who had themselves studied
these very matters often centuries before 17.
This recovery of Medieval and Ancient astrology has been in part facilitated
by recent changes within the Western academic world, particularly within
the disciplines of the History and Philosophy of Science 18. Once again, we
are finding that astrology, alchemy and magic are acceptable subjects for
institutionalised academic, historical, and social research 19. In tandem with
this have been the activities of extramural scholars operating outside of
major academic institutions. Some of whom (and I include myself here) are
astrological practitioners seeking bona fide astrological techniques, which
give the theory practical application. Others have been unconventional,
quasi-anarchistic philosophers seeking to overthrow established
philosophical biases thereby preparing the way for a “Paradigm Shift”.
The importation into astrology of extraneous social and political ideologies
as well as the grafting onto astrology of psychological theories has been bad
for astrology. The issue is not whether such theories have merit or not, but
that they are not astrology and that by adulterating astrological study with
their own prerequisites they impede the central learning of how to delineate
and predict astrologically. One can be a very good socialist or capitalist and
effectively practice astrology but these must take a secondary role when
learning astrology. To put it another way, the lesser is always subservient
to the greater. In this case, the greater is astrology, which can be used to
understand the forces that encapsulate ideologies or economic systems
however the reverse is not true.
Astrology is a separate study and demands a singular approach in that it must
be pursued for itself. Its causes lie in the eternal and not in the temporal. It is
often overlooked that contemporary issues however important and cogent in
their day are not necessarily of eternal relevance. An example of this is the

Cardan of Milan (16th century) is a very good example of this.

We have even reached the stage where we find students of astrology
publishing books through leading institutions. Cardano’s Cosmos by Anthony
Grafton (the Henry Putnam Professor of History at Princeton University) is a
good example of this.

Sophia Trust (United Kingdom) has recently arranged scholarship with different
academic institutions in the United Kingdom to facilitate research projects
concerning astrology.


Medieval struggle between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines 20, a bitter rivalry
in its time, but now forgotten, as, in the course of time, our contemporary
political issues will be. However, since astrology deals with universal and
eternal causes it will remain and continue.
Psychology is but a more recent lens that has been brought to bear. As
a discipline, it may help people but it remains a separate subject from
astrology and to graft it onto astrology, to make it such an article of faith that
both it and astrology become one and the same does a disservice to both. For
it delays and obstructs the complete understanding of either. Thus, no matter
from which position you start in approaching the materials in this course you
are asked to learn astrology first and divest yourself as much as possible of
other matters.
When we consider the interface between astrology and philosophy
or spirituality, the matter is somewhat different. It is still best to learn
astrology first; philosophy/spiritual doctrines second or at least separately.
Nevertheless, for reasons that will become clearer as you practice Medieval
astrology, some kind of spiritual system is seen to be essential for the proper
practice of astrology. This is because, while astrology per se lacks a spiritual
doctrine of its own, the practice of astrology leads us, eventually, to the
recognition of the need for one. Although, historically, Medieval astrology
had its philosophical and metaphysical foundations in Hermeticism,
Neoplatonism, and Kabbalah, I do not think it wise to be prescriptive and
endorse one spiritual or religious approach over others.
Each of us must decide for ourselves what philosophical path is right for
us. For example learning about Neoplatonism’s relation to astrology does
not necessarily imply acceptance of Neoplatonism as your spiritual or
philosophical path. What each of us needs from a spiritual/philosophical path
is a guide to eternal and universal truth and methods that enable us to realise
the Good and to find knowledge of our true Self. It is prudent, though that
the seeker who intends to join astrology to a spiritual or philosophical path
selects one that does not reject astrology out of hand otherwise confusion
is created. Confusion also arises when one’s training or preconceptions tell
one that prediction is impossible. Doubt presents itself if you believe that,
despite your natal chart, that you can be anything, you wish to be. In this
latter regard, the inherent contradiction should be obvious for one cannot
maintain the view that the natal chart holds the key to a personal “destiny”
on the one hand while giving equal force to the opposite viewpoint, namely
that no matter what your horoscope states you have the power to override
As we have seen above, in the brief history of astrology, there have been
great changes. So great that those whom many of us revere as the leading
astrologers would not recognise as astrology that which is practised as
mainstream astrology today. Thus, the study of how astrology has developed
is very important because it tells us where we are. It is only by knowing
where we are that we can decide on where we are going and why.
The Guelfs and the Ghibelines were rival Medieval political factions. The Guelfs
supported the Papacy and the Ghibelines, the Holy Roman Emperor.


Our future as astrologers and indeed the future of Western astrology itself
lies in the direction of a return to its origins and a revival of the practice of
prediction. This course is taking you in that direction.
Those of you who are zealous in your beliefs or even avant garde will need
to abandon ersatz astrologies and spurious “alternative” spiritualities as these
create barriers, which cloud the mind with platitudes and unproven theories.
It will mean taking a new viewpoint and looking afresh at old problems. For
many this will take much courage, stamina, and memory (i.e. attention) for
you will be repeatedly asked to recognize what is and how what is in the here
and now, is prefigured in the astrological chart. For only in this way will you
come to see fate at work.
Contrary to most popular belief fate is not something that must always remain
within the bounds of theory but is something that can be tested and for which
proof may be found. Astrology, perhaps beyond all the other occult sciences
shows you how to find that proof and this pursuit is an essential part of the
teaching of this course. Only by recognizing that we are under the laws of
heaven will we be able to escape from our astral prison and truly begin our
approach to Wisdom.
Wisdom has three prerequisites: Fear of God, Knowledge of the Self and
Love of thy neighbour.
Fear of God is recognition that we are bound in the prison of our astral
Knowledge of the Self is the immediate, lasting, awareness of that part of
us which is above that astral constellation, undetermined, universal, loving,
and free.
Love of the neighbour arises inevitably, effortlessly and immediately upon
the attainment of Knowledge of the Self as the recognition of the Self in
Wisdom establishes right relationship, justice, mutual support, and
knowledge of all good things, long life, and freedom.
The Hermetic teachings refer to Man as a two-fold being. His material part
is ruled by fate. His divine part is free. He who would be free from fate must
cultivate the latter. This is the core of the Hermetic Wisdom.
Wisdom is the key to the door of the dungeon of fate we are in. Through
Wisdom, the wise can escape the horoscope and the governance of fate.
They must still confront the facts of their physical existence. The body
remains subject to the rule of the stars. They must still address that which
the horoscope prefigures. But, having attained Wisdom, they have achieved
freedom as well. They know that they are not their bodies and that what they
are is undetermined and cannot be ruled by fate.
So, we return to our central concern What is Medieval Astrology? Medieval
astrology is the astrology of Masha`allah (c740-c815), Abu Ma’shar 21 (78721

See Zoller Abu-Mashar Prince of Astrologers at


886 AD) and Guido Bonatti 22 (c.1223-1295), Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499),
Nostradamus (1503-66), John Dee (1527-1608), amongst others whom you
will learn of. It is astrology as a high science before it was tinkered with and
corrupted in the name of “reform.” It is an occult Art in the true sense. The
occult is that which remains hidden. The causes of astrological influence
(that which makes it work) lie hidden from us.
Its philosophical foundations are to be found in Hermeticism and
Neoplatonism; especially in the Arabic and Jewish Neoplatonism traditions.
Later we will examine some of these such as the Corpus hermeticum 23, the
works of Avicenna (980-1037) 24 and in the Fons vitae of Avicebron (1021??1058) 25. In addition, these foundations rest upon the Kabbalah 26.
Medieval astrology, being before psychology, has no psychology (in the
modern sense of the word) in it. As you will see, Medieval astrology does
give attention to the native’s character and in the course materials, you
will learn a way of identifying the native’s Primary Motivation. Medieval
astrology also developed before the doctrine of Evolution as outlined above
therefore it does not make mention of it.
This lack of inclusion of what is seen as a central doctrine in the Modern
era may strike you as wrong, so embedded in our consciousness has the
equation of “progress” and evolution become. For many, the belief that
things automatically improve or “evolve” is an article of faith. Yet, this
is not self-evident. Thirty years of observing clients, the world and myself
have shown that an individual’s character, behaviour and at least the general
outlines of his/her life are accurately scripted in the natal chart.
The native lives out his or her life story, which is all there in the natal chart
for anyone to read (if they can). I do not know why this is so, but in practice,
I must regard it as undeniable that we have fates or destinies and that they
are depicted in our natal charts. Medieval astrology gives us a way to know
our fates, i.e. our personal “constellation”.
See and
books/bonatti/146.shtml and
arabicparts.shtm and


See Zoller articles The Hermetic Tradition and Hermeticism as Science at and

See Avicenna, Metaphysica sive Prima Philosophia (Venice 1495).


See Zoller Avicebron and the Fountain of Life at


Kabbalah is the secret tradition amongst the Jews. Its antiquity is disputed.
Jewish sources claim great antiquity for it. A Christian Cabala, in the Renaissance
when some Christians, believing that the Jews had a profound Wisdom teaching,
actively sought it and studied with Jewish teachers. Kabblistic literature is rich in
mystical, theological, philosophical and “prescientific” lore veiled by allegory and
obscure language


This personal “constellation” is somehow in us, working from the inside
out. It is the particular invisible net, web, or concatenation of aspects of
being which the disposition or arrangement of the planets, stars, luminaries
(Sun and Moon), in the zodiacal signs at the time of an individual’s time
of birth signifies. At the same time, it interacts with the external heaven or
sky so that in each of us the inner and outer are linked. Paracelsus (1493?
-1541) appears to have recognized this, for he speaks of “the heaven of the
microcosm” and “the heaven of the macrocosm.”27
The practice of Medieval astrological delineation and the thoughtful
application of its predictive techniques, eradicates doubt about this. It makes
it clear that the Gnostics and mystics were right. Our constellation is our
spiritual prison and natal astrology is merely the floor plan of that prison.
Spiritually, all that one can hope for from the floor plan is the knowledge of
where to find the exits, the escape routes.
Astrology per se will not get you out of the prison. That is the business
of religion, philosophy and spiritual practices, or, if you will, of Spiritual
Science. While it is true that astrology leads us to the realization of the
necessary existence of an higher Intelligence than our own, it cannot, by
itself, lead us through a portal into a paradise. It is important to be clear
about this, because, if we expect astrology to free us from the adversities
of embodied life, we will waste our lives seeking something that does not
What astrology can do is to describe in advance the characteristics of our
embodied lives. The accurate delineation of the natal figure depicts our
objective reality. It answers such questions as: “Will I marry?” “Will I
have children?” or “What kind of profession will I have?” “ How are
my finances this year?” “Will I go to jail?” or “How is my health”?
Natal astrology has traditionally been used in three ways: to describe in
advance what will happen in our lives, to attempt to manipulate the reality
in which we live and to explain the hidden spiritual causes behind the
phenomena of our lives. This attempted manipulation of reality equates to
magic and as such is fraught with difficulties and hidden dangers. Many
astrologers have stumbled upon these snares. They are best avoided by using
astrology as a philosophical path leading to knowledge of the Universal One
rather than to the idiosyncratic “me”.
Because astrology can be used to describe objective reality, it has long been
used in alchemy, which is as important a sister Art to astrology as magic is.
These three Arts constitute a Trinity of Occult taken together they reveal the
operation of the Divine. The Medieval Magician-Mystics of the Picatrixian
Tradition held that: “Magic is the operation of spirit upon spirit. Astrology
is the operation of spirit upon body. Alchemy is the operation of body upon

Regarding this doctrine of Paracelsus, cf The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings
of Paracelsus, ed. A. E. Waite, University Books, NY, 1967, vol II, p. 289ff


My adaptation from Picatrix (c. 1200 AD).


Medieval Astrological Texts
The study of Medieval astrology is based on texts. What is studied must then
be practiced. When examining its tradition it is firstly to these that we must
turn. The following list is not exhaustive and as further research continues is
open to revision but it adequately sketches the general field and provides an
Ariadne’s Thread through a labyrinth full of astrological error 29.
For the reasons explained above this course is denoted as being Medieval
Astrology but it draws on the texts that stretch from circa 200 BC to 1700
Nechepso-Petosiris (now lost with only fragments remaining).
Edited by Ernst Riess in Nechepsonis et Petosiridis fragmenta in
Philologus, suppl.6. 1892, pp 325-388.
Liber Hermetis, translated by Robert Zoller.
Dorotheus’s Carmen astrologicum
Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos
Matheseos libri viii by Julius Firmicus Maternus
Vettius Valens’ Anthology
Antiochus’s Thesaurus
Hephaestion of Thebes Compendium Book
Masha’allah, On Nativities
Alkindi, On the Stellar Rays, translated by Robert Zoller 30
Abu Mashar, Flores astrologicae, Abbreviation of the Introduction
to Astrology
Abu Ali Al-Khayyat The Judgment of Nativities
Ibn Ezra The Beginning of Wisdom, The Book of Reasons, etc.
Guido Bonatti’s Liber Astronomiae 31
See also Bonatti’s 146 Considerations in Anima Astrologiae 32
Luca Gaurico, Tractatus astrologiae iudiciariae de nativitatibus

virorum et mulierum...
Junctinus, Speculum astrologiae...
Schöner, On the Judgments of Nativities
Lilly, Christian Astrology
Morinus, Astrologia Gallica
Placidus, Primum Mobile

Note the list does not attempt to give a full list of astrological hermetica. The
astrological hermetica which are known to us are fairly numerous and, while
very important from the point of view of Hellenistic Astrology and for tracing the
development of astrology, they are not all important for the Medieval astrological
tradition as they did not all get past the Christian and Moslem editors.





Some Basic Differences Between the Modern Variants
of Astrology and Medieval Astrology.
In addressing this please set aside any preconceptions, you have about what
constitutes astrology. Summa scientiae nihil scire (The height of Science
is to know nothing). Medieval astrology, though the parent of Modern
astrology differs from it in a number of fundamental aspects. This course
will elaborate on these but the following significant differences should be
borne in mind from the very beginning.
1. Only the seven visible planets, the North and South Nodes of the

Moon and the fixed stars are used. The modern planets (Uranus,
Neptune and Pluto), the hypothetical planets, black moons,
asteroids, Lilith, Vulcan and a host of other things thought essential
by modern astrologers are simply unheard of and unused.

2. Only eight Ptolemaic aspects are used (the conjunction and the

opposition, two sextiles, two squares and two trines).

3. Arabic Parts are used.
4. Whereas Modern astrology uses only two dignities (Rulership and

Exaltation), Medieval astrology uses five (Rulership, Exaltation,
Triplicity, Term and Face or Decan).

5. There are specific rules guiding delineation.
6. There are predictive techniques, which are unused in Modern


7. Medieval astrology is Predictive astrology.

Is Medieval Astrology Fatalistic?
Whether Medieval astrology is fatalistic presupposes fate. Whether people’s
actions are fated, that is, “spoken” (the English word “fate” comes from
the Latin fatum, “that which has been spoken.”) begs the question, “Spoken
by whom?” It also implies some kind of relationship between speech and
the circumstances or “accidents” of one’s life. Such circumstances are
non-essential characterics of an individual, which distinguish him or her
from other individuals in the same class (human beings). The term used by
Medieval Astrologers for such circumstances was “accidents” (something
that ‘happens to’ an individual by which it is known as this or that individual
of such and such a class). To say that the events of our lives (the accidents
of the native) are “fated” usually means they are “foreordained” or
“determined.” This again begs the question, “By whom?”
These questions are properly speaking theological, philosophical, and
metaphysical questions. As such, they are outside the scope of our study,
which is practical predictive astrology. Theological, philosophical, and
metaphysical arguments are often elegant, but unproductive, inconclusive
and unconvincing; especially when you lack what you need to resolve the
doubts that crop up in debates of this sort. That we have this discussion at
all shows how intimately astrology is related to theology, philosophy, and

Two things are needed in order to establish that there is determination,
foreordination or fate in our lives: objective, unbiased observation of
events and people’s behaviour over sufficiently long periods of time and
the delineation and predictive techniques of Medieval astrology. The first
requires prolonged attention, which not everyone has, but which can be
developed with practice. The second provides us with a structure and a
language, which permits us to see and speak about fate. One reason why
many modern people have trouble seeing fate is that it has been conceptually
removed from modern thought. So, we return to Medieval astrology as being
our instrument for seeing it.
In order to observe the working of fate, you need to see first what the person
is. The accidents of the native are what make him/her different from other
people and the natal chart is a diagram of these accidents. The natal chart,
or figure, shows us the natal promise, the “What is…” The predictive
techniques of Medieval astrology enable us to witness the periodic and
occasional manifestation of events promised in the natal figure. The
predictive techniques give us the “When is… “
Once you have seen things from this point of view; once you have seen the
seemingly ceaseless repetition of patterns in the natal figure as events in the
lives of people around you, you will no longer doubt whether or not there
is fate. You will also learn that the fated side of human existence is not the
full story.
The Hermetic Teachings contained in the first book of the Corpus
Hermeticum 33, called the Poimandres or Pymander 34, I.15, tells us that Man
is two-fold. He is subject to destiny as far as he is mortal, but he is exalted
above the heavens, always aware and immortal due to “the Man of Eternal
Substance.” The realization of this “Man of Eternal Substance” in us is the
subject of subsequent books in the Corpus Hermeticum and has been the
central interest of esotericism for ages. Few people know that within them
dwells a god-like being that is immortal, free, omniscient and happy. Though
this being is in us, few realize it. That is, it remains (if the person is aware
of it at all) merely an idea, an opinion. In order for it to be made real, certain
things must be done, which are not part of one’s ordinary daily routine.
Again, these matters belong to metaphysics; not to astrology. There are
disciplines (such as certain forms of Yoga or spiritual practices), which
lead to the realization of this being within us. These matters are of great
importance but they are not astrology. What astrology, pre-eminently
Medieval astrology, primarily deals with is embodied existence. It presents
us with an incomplete picture of the human being and, while it can give hints
and directions for attaining what the Picatrix35 refers to as Perfected Nature;
it can’t take you there.



Picatri, The Latin version of the Ghayat Al-Hakim, edited by David Pingree,
London, The Warburg Institute, 1986, Book III, chapter 6, p.108ff.


So, is Medieval Astrology Fatalistic?
From a practical point of view, in so far as it deals with embodied
existence the answer is “Yes”. However, for the reasons just given, this
fatalism, while a necessary attitude for purposes of prediction, is not the
final word on human nature.
In asserting this Medieval, astrology asserts nothing not asserted by most
modern sciences, which are all deterministic in the sense that, to the degree
they deal with laws, the outcome is determined.

Why Study Medieval Astrology?
Simply put, Medieval astrology enables us to predict events in human
affairs with a fair degree of accuracy. Knowing the outcome of things,
events, people, etc is a part of Wisdom. We study it because it provides
astrological knowledge that cannot be found elsewhere. It provides missing
links that we need in order to restore astrology. Your study, application, and
mastery of these techniques will mean that you are playing a very real and
important part in this restoration.

On Prediction
There are a number of prerequisites in order for astrological prediction to be
possible. Even with these prerequisites having been met, it is still a tricky
In Natal astrology, which you will learn first, all prediction must be preceded
by a thorough delineation of the natal figure. In that delineation you must
examine as precisely as possible every planet, sign, house, Arabic part, and
the host of those things you are about to learn. There is no short cut and
diligent study from the beginning will pay a greater reward later. You must
concentrate, from the very beginning on how to determine the significators
of the various issues or people indicated in the chart Once this is correctly
done, and only then, can you proceed to prediction. Prediction is just a matter
of when an event will manifest. The key to prediction is delineation.
From the above it will be apparent that anything that obstructs your
judgment, that which keeps you from recognizing one thing as distinct from
another (e.g. the native as distinct from the native’s partner, or the native
as distinct from the native’s partner’s family, etc) will effectively impede
judgment and precludes the delineation of the chart. Always remember no
delineation, no prediction.
All astrological theories which start from the premise that the natal chart is
a diagram of an individual inner world and that each of the houses represent
the native’s ideas about the things (as denoted by the house e.g. the 7th house
= the native’s ideas about partnership) obstruct your seeing the native’s
objective reality. In this course, you must make this ascertaining of the
native’s objective reality a central aim.


Equally, if you view the planets as universal archetypes without due
consideration of their position (both in the signs and houses), then you will
fail to distinguish the different action of the same planet in different charts.
Universals, such as fame (the Sun) or love (Venus) are not confronted
in embodied life in the same way by everyone. Each of us meets the
planets’ natures through a number of screens. These specify the universals
corresponding to the planets’ natures to particular experiences and events
unique to the native’s natal “constellation” (as we have discussed it above).
Unless you make this distinction from the beginning of your studies then
you will only achieve a superficial and inaccurate delineation of the chart.
So again, no delineation, no prediction.

What do We Gain from Prediction?
We gain the philosophical and spiritual recognition that life is neither chaotic
nor random: that there exists an intelligent ordaining Cause. We gain the
ability to plan for the future. We gain knowledge and that puts us and our
clients onto a road of self-exploration which leads us to personal spiritual
growth (which manifests on the physical plane as well) and in this way we
attain realisation or in a word Wisdom.

All things that can be used for the Good such as the Art you are now learning
can be (and are) abused, poorly executed, and used for fraudulent purposes.
All practitioners of astrology and you even now as students of this course
must only use this Art for the benefit of Mankind. Should you find someone
who uses it selfishly, ignorantly, or fraudulently, you should immediately
distinguish the Art from the practitioner. Correct the practitioner. Preserve
the integrity of the Art.
If terrorists fly planes into the World Trade Centre, does this mean that
aviation per se is at fault and so should be abandoned? If a doctor operates
on the wrong side of a patient’s brain, does this mean surgery is false? The
answer to these questions is clearly, “No.” The same logic and fairness
applies to astrology.
When faced with a decision as to whether a theory is at fault or the
practitioner is, examine the theory. The catchword here is “be practical”.
Do not make decisions on theory alone, but balance theory and practical
experience. Observe. Do not settle for my word on the matter but rather test
everything for yourself and by doing so make yourself the practitioner.
Practice (especially in the early stages) is very important. Once you have
learned a technique, commit it to memory and then practise it and practise
it repeatedly. Apply the rules you learn to a minimum of 200 charts. In this
way, the techniques will become second nature to you and you will begin
to see for yourself, better than I can tell you, how they ought to be applied,
and what the instructions mean. Often in learning, we think we know the
teacher’s meaning, but oftentimes do not. Only later, having practiced the
Art, does it become clear.


Use technology, such as your computer and astrological software but here a
word of caution. If you are to use software then make sure it is the very best
you can get. In this field, there is only one worth getting and that is the Janus
astrology software produced by Astrology House 36. Do remember though
that software is not an excuse to fore-go the work of learning the techniques
nor the mathematics that underlie them.
This ends the Orientation Lesson.
I hope you have enjoyed it and have found it of use.
For your first piece of homework, please write a one page (only please!)
synopsis of this Orientation Lesson and email it to me. It will be marked and
Please refer to the Course Guidelines if you are unsure about how to submit
your homework for marking.
Please now proceed to Lesson One. The real work is about to begin.
Good Luck.




The following are guidelines concerning the DMA materials and course.

General Introduction to Medieval Astrology
Orientation (text and audio)
1. Astronomy: Part 1 (text and audio)
. Cosmology and Spherical Astronomy
2. Astronomy: Part 2
. Constellations, fixed stars, planetary and luminary cycles
3. Sabaeanism
. Use of fixed stars and an explanation of the astronomical bases of
There is also a calculation module to teach the basics of chart erection.
Plus a two separate papers on astronomy: The Diurnal Motion of the Stars and The
Right Conception of the Sphere and its Circles (translated from Thabit c 870 AD)
Fundaments of Medieval Astrology
4. The Archetype
. Interrelationship between the sidereal and tropical zodiacs
5. Sign, Subdivisions and Rulerships
6. The Houses
7. The Planets


Introduction and overview to successful Delineation

8. The Fundaments of Delineation
Special Techniques of Delineation

9. The Length of Life - Longevity – Part I
10. The Length of Life - Longevity – Part II
11. The Rank of Fame
12. The Profession Significator
13. The Financial Significator
14. The Lord of the Chart - Almutem Figuris
15. The Arabic Parts
Introduction and Continuous Astrological Techniques

16. The Fundaments of Prediction
and Predictive method in Natal Configurations
and the Predictive method of Time Division by Triplicity Ruler
and the method of the Ages of Man
Non-continuous Astrological Techniques

17. Transits and Progressions
18. Prediction through the ruling of time - Firdaria
and Prediction through permutation - Profecting
19. Prediction by Solar & Lunar Return
20. Prediction by Directing
Special Areas
21.The Delineation and Prediction of Marriage
22. Delineation and Prediction relating to Children
23. Medical Astrology
24. Spiritual Astrology
25. Astrological Physiognomy
Conclusion to Course
26 Epilogue

In addition to the above your course materials CD will also include the following
Abu-Ma’shar: Prince of Astrologers Ma’shar was a Persian astrologer (8 th – 9th
century) who had a profound effect on astrology in We stern Europe. He was the
greatest astrologer of his day and it is essential for the modern practitioner of
Predictive astrology to be familiar with his work.
Astrology and Wisdom Today the pursuit of wisdom as the prime objective of
astrology has been largely abandoned. In its stead psychological analysis and
introspection have come to predominate in the Western democracies. For the
majority this has destroyed astrology as a predictive Art and so dissolved its
central aim, the attainment of wisdom. Students should be aware of these issues
and now to go about resolving them.
Avicebron and the Fountain of Life Today many scientists use Copernican
heliocentric astronomy (that the Earth revolves around the Sun) as a repudiation
of astrology. This places astrologers in the position of having to justify their preCopernican application of astronomy. It is a debate that has been raging for
many centuries and drives to the root of the difficultly that many scientists and
academics have in understanding astrology. This article examines the work and
life of one of the greatest mind to address this matter.
Blending of Astrology and Medicine Astrological calculation was regarded as
essential in determining the appropriate time to commence or change treatment
and planetary movements were regarded as strongly influencing the patient's
This article is one of a series of medical papers considering these issues.
The Guardian Angel and Astrology This paper discusses the nature of the
Angel and examines two different viewpoints – that of the psychologist and that
of the Predictive astrologer. The latter delineates the natal figure and draws upon
esoteric and sacred doctrine. In doing so astrologers can demonstrate that the
modern view - that we are essentially formed by nurture and the environment - is
wrong. On the contrary, the spiritual forces inherent at our birth are of
fundamental importance throughout our lives and these forces are closely tied to
our Guardian Angel.


Medical Astrology in Early Western Europe This article discusses the state of
medical astrology in barbarian Western Europe prior to 500AD. It examines the
state of their astronomical learning; their medical lore and their understanding of
a correlation between the affairs of heaven and effects on earth.
Prediction and the 11th September 2001 This paper examines prediction and in
particular those predictions relating to the attacks on the Pentagon and World
Trade Centre, made twelve months before the events. It gives an overview of the
standards necessary for astrological prediction and an indication of the methods
used. It primarily relates to the predictions, which specifically stated that an
attack would be by Islamic fundamentalists on US soil in September 2001. These
predictions were published twelve months before in August 2000.
Valentine Weigel on Fate and Free Will Many modern astrologers are
confronted with a painful inadequacy when reading a horoscope. They can
diagnose problems that the native may confront but too often remain powerless
to do anything about those problems. This raises issues central to Fate and Free
Will. This article discusses these in relation of the works of Weigel, who put a
great deal of thought into the matter.

Students will be supplied all of the above course materials on CD ROM and/or be
sent course materials via email and/or will be directed to download materials from
a Website on the Internet.
When you first install the CD you will be asked to register it. Please refer to the
instructions that accompany your CD.
Each student is to ensure that s/he will not allow anyone else to use his or her CD
or the materials contained on it. Any student found in breach of this condition will
be immediately removed from the course and failed; they will not be refunded their
course fee and may be fined and prosecuted in accordance with the terms and
Software needed for reading/listening to the text/audio files will be on your DMA
CD. Materials can only be read and printed from the DMA CD. Students are only
authorised to use it on a single computer unless the registrar grants special
permission to do otherwise.


In addition to the DMA materials listed above the following are texts for the
Tools and Techniques for the Medieval Astrologer Book One on Prenatal
Concerns and the Calculation of the Length of Life
Tools and Techniques for the Medieval Astrologer Book Two on Astrological
Prediction by Direction and the Sub-division of the Signs .
Tools and Techniques for the Medieval Astrologer Book Three on Horary and
Electional Astrology and An Astrological Miscellany.
146 Considerations of Bonatti and 245 Aphorisms of Cardanus (Bonatti was the
leading astrologer of the 13 th century and Cardan was a leading astrologer of the
15th century). It is an invaluable work and if you memorise Bonatti's
considerations early on you will find they hold you in good stead throughout your
For more information on these books and for example pages of their contents
There are further texts in the student library. All students can access these for
Also, there are a number of other books and articles, which will aid you in your
studies. As you go through your course materials you will find these referred to
and can at the stage decide if you need them. Please note that reference materials
highlighted in blue (in your lessons) are links through to the Academy WebPages
and you need to be connected to the Internet to view them.


You are asked to begin with the Orientation lecture and then the Calculation
module. Once you have completed these then please work through each lesson,
one at a time. Some will take you longer than others but over the first six months,
you should be able to average two lessons per month and have completed the
Orientation and the Calculation module. Then, in the next six months as you move
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Diploma Course in Medieval Astrology
Lesson One
Astronomy Part I

Diploma Course in
Medieval Astrology
Robert Zoller
A New Library Publication

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Diploma Course in Medieval Astrology
Lesson One
(Start Audio)

Welcome to the first lesson in the Diploma course materials.
I hope you enjoyed and found the Orientation Lecture of merit. Many of the
things that we explored in that lecture need to be kept in mind as we now
move to the work of understanding astrological technique and method. It
may even be a good idea to refer back to the Orientation Lecture at frequent
intervals, as you will find that many subjects discussed in that lecture will
become clearer to you as you progress through the course.
We now are to begin the first lesson. It deals with astronomy and is called
Astronomy Part 1.
Astronomy is the bedrock upon which much of your astrological technique
will be based and so a thorough understanding is essential. Some of what
you encounter may be new and at first sight daunting but work through it
slowly and soon enough I am sure you will grasp its essentials.
As you listen to the audio and/or read the text, you will see references to
other materials such as Tools and Techniques of the Medieval Astrologer. 1
In these other works, you will find additional materials that may help you
to understand some of the finer points and so wherever possible you should
consult these other texts.
So, let us begin.

As astrologers, you need to know astronomy and in this lesson, we are to
look at medieval astronomy. You may be thinking – But this is the modern
age why do I need to understand medieval astronomy?
Medieval astrology is based upon a cosmological model, an astronomical
model, which is also the model for the soul. Moreover, in so much as
Medieval astrology is part of a larger whole that involves Hermetic, NeoPlatonic, and Aristotelian cosmology and the understanding of the soul itself
you have to understand how these things are all related. This is going to be
particularly important when you come to deal with your own practice and
your own astrological theory.



Medieval astrology is low on psychological theory, as we presently think of
it but it has a good deal of spiritual content. In particular, the concept of the
ascensio and the descensio animae - the ascent and descent of the soul is well
rooted within the astrology you are to learn. These are concepts of esoteric
astrology that are based upon the philosophical teachings of the Greeks and
certain doctrines of various Semitic peoples from the Middle East. 2
I am scrupulously not calling this a psychology because psychology as a
science is a nineteenth century creation. There was no real equivalent of
psychology as we presently think of it either in the middle ages or in the
ancient period.
They held a very different concept of the inner life. This inner life was
closely tied to the structure of the cosmos. The ultimate fate of the soul was
also tied up with the structure of the cosmos as it was then understood and
that structure is astronomy. Therefore, we have to understand this ancient
astronomy in order to understand these spiritual issues.
Medieval astrology is based upon a geocentric astronomy. This geocentric
(geo = earth, centric = centred i.e. the earth is the centre as opposed to
heliocentric, helios = Sun thus the Sun is at the centre) astronomy is
itself perhaps best laid out in the Almagest 3, which is “The Big Book” on
astronomy written by Claudius Ptolemy in the second century AD.

Geocentric Astronomy
We must start with brief exposé of geocentric astronomy. Please refer to
Figure 1A. If you have not already printed the diagrams, please stop the
audio and do this now, as it is better to have these in front of you as we
proceed. They are all contained in the Appendix File.


E.g. Mandaeans, Druze, Barmacides, Harranians, etc.

Ptolemy’s Almagest trs R. C. Taliaferro, volume 16, Great Books, 1952
University of Chicago. There are several other books that are good for a
thorough discussion on medieval astrology, i.e. geocentric astronomy. Cf. Wayne
Shumaker and J.L. Heilbron’s John Dee on Astronomy, published by University
of California Press,1978. Heilbron and Shumaker have a section on this which
deals with geocentric astronomy which is very helpful for those of us who want
to get a handy introduction without having to wade through all the mathematics
and the Almagest itself.

This text, the Almagest, is the basis of all of the astronomy of the Arabs and later
of the Christian Europeans. Cf. also Campanus of Novarra’s Medieval Planetary
Theory, The Theorica Planetarum, Benjamin and Toomer, The University of
Wisconsin Press, 1971.
Also Cf. The Elizabethan World Picture by E.M.W. Tillyard, n.d. Random House,
New York.
Also Cf. The Sphere of Sacrobosco by Lynn Thorndike, University of Chicago
Press, 1949. It has the Sphere of Sacrobosco in English and in Latin with the
commentaries by a number of important commentators in both English and in
Latin as well, so you get a very straight forward representation of what the actual
medieval astrologers where studying in this book.




M erc ury
Ve n u s



Jup iter
Fixed Stars

Figure 1A
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Referring to Figure 1A, you will see it consists of a series of concentric
spheres or circles. At the centre is the Earth and then you see the symbols
vertically going up from the Earth. These are the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the
Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and then star symbols.
What this represents is the cosmological understanding of both the ancients
and the medieval astrologers that the Earth was at the centre of the world.
There was no universe, as we understand it. There might have been a
cosmos, but the word cosmos is a Greek word that means adorned or an
ordered whole and this is the way they saw things. The world to them as an
ordered whole comprised of harmonies and relationships that also comprised
the soul of the world and in as much as the soul of the world was comprised
of these relationships and harmonies, so was the soul of the human being.
This explains why ultimately we understand medieval psychology by
understanding the cosmology of the ancients and of the Arabs and also of
the medieval Christians.
Thus, the Earth was considered to be at the centre of the world (meaning
all creation not just the planet Earth as we frequently think of the “world”
today) and around it were eight spheres. You can see these represented in
the diagram. These eight spheres were the spheres of the seven planets


plus the sphere of the fixed stars. Beyond the sphere of the fixed stars,
in the Medieval Christian account in particular, was the ninth sphere, the
Empyrean, where there were no stars. Beyond that, there was the sphere of
the First Mover or the Unmoved Mover, which is to say, God.
This point of view is highly influenced by Aristotle’s cosmological thinking
and Ptolemy drew heavily on a combination of this Aristotelian influence as
well as those of the Stoics and Neo-Platonists.
Now, the seven spheres of the planets, which you can see in Figure 1A, are
concentric. Please note that the Earth is not counted in the schema as a planet
and so strictly speaking does not have a sphere but we will come back to this
later and see how that space was defined.
The Earth is stationery around which all the other planets move. The fastest
moving of these being the Moon, this is closest to the Earth. Next, you will
see Mercury, which is just a little bit slower than the Moon. Then Venus,
which is slower than Mercury. Next is the Sun which is slower than Venus,
then Mars which is slower than the Sun and Jupiter which is slower than
Mars, then Saturn which is slowest of all the planets and finally the sphere of
the fixed stars, which is in fact the fastest moving of the eight spheres.
These spheres are considered to nest one inside the other and they
are sometimes described and discussed in medieval astrological and
astronomical theory as crystal spheres because you can see through them.
It is important to understand that the planets were not conceived of as being
attached to these spheres. The spheres actually represent the minima and the
maxima, that is the perigee 4 and the apogee 5 respectively, of the planet’s
position relative to the Earth. As we will see shortly, the planet could be
anywhere between the two lines as you see them on the diagram. The one
below it or the one above it, depending on where it stood in terms of its
epicycle or in terms of its retrograde motion. Both of these terms, we will
explore in detail later.
The eighth sphere, which is the sphere of the fixed stars, is that which you
see when you look up at the night sky, when you see the stars on the dome
of heaven. This sphere moves one full turn every twenty-four hours and
constitutes what we call the diurnal motion. It moves in such a way that it
makes the stars appear to rise in the east and set in the west.
So, the diurnal motion, 6 which is also called the primary motion is the
motion of something rising in the east, then transiting the meridian 7 which

Point nearest the earth.


Point farthest from the earth.

“Diurnal” means daily. The word is used in two senses, meaning twenty four
hours and meaning the time spent above the horizon. In the first sense the Diurnal
Motion is the distance a body travels in twenty four hours. For example, the time it
takes for a star to rise in the east circuit the earth and rise again, or the distance
the Moon travels in twenty four hours. In the second sense the length of an arc of
a celestial body above the earth from the point where it rises to the point where it
sets is called it’s diurnal arc.

The meridian is a great circle which defines noon and midnight in Apparent Time.
The meridian (the 10th/4th axis in the horoscope) passes through the North Celestial
Pole, the zenith, the South Point of the horizon, the South Celestial Pole, the Nadir,
the North Point on the horizon and returns to the North Celestial Pole.


corresponds to your terrestrial longitude. This meridian transit indicates
noon (this may not be the zenith point) and then setting in the west. Thus, all
planets and stars rise in the east and set in the west.
This concept of the diurnal motion is very important. Please now stop the
audio and read Article Two: Diurnal Motion. It is a concept that we will
come back to time and again through this course.
(Stop Audio/Start Audio)

Now, in the Southern hemisphere, the planets and stars traverse the northern
sky. In the Northern hemisphere, they traverse the southern sky. We will talk
about this in detail a little bit later but for the moment, I want to get it clear
in your mind that there are two motions.
One is this primary motion, which moves from the east, to the meridian
transit, then sets in the west. Then it transits the meridian below the earth and
returns to the east where it rises again. This is the fastest motion that we deal
with in astrology and its cycle/period is once in 24 hours.
The second motion moves contrary to this primary motion. It is motion
of the planets as they move through the zodiac and is called the secondary
motion. This movement goes from west to east. If you think about this for a
minute, this will become quite clear to you. Because, let’s say you have 0° of
Aries on the meridian, then 1° of Aries would be a little bit to the left (or east,
in the Northern Hemisphere) of that. That is, it would be moving towards the
east. So, when a planet moves from 0° to 1° it is actually going from west to
east when it traverses through the zodiac in direct motion, going from 1° to
the next degree in the order of the signs.

Motion of the Planets
The Sun and the Moon both move in a direct motion all the time. They never
go backwards or what is called retrograde. The other planets occasionally
go retrograde, when they go from east to west for a brief period of time,
before they go direct again.
So, there are two motions. One is primary motion that is from east to west.
It is the motion of the eighth sphere and is also called the diurnal motion.
The other motion is from west to east and is called secondary motion.
All of the planets from Saturn to the Moon partake of the second motion.
However, they also partake of the primary motion as well because primary
motion being so fast carries all of the planets around in the sky. It makes
them rise in the east and set in the west. At the same time, they are moving
from west to east through the signs of the zodiac. These two motions are
concurrent and forever on going.
You do not notice these two motions so easily, particularly during the
daytime. Nevertheless, if, and this is the way the ancients did it, you were to
chart the motions, then they are more easily discernable. Let us say we take
note of the Moon’s position on night number one and pinpoint its position
against the background of the fixed stars. You would see that it was in a

certain constellation. You could see that it was so far from this star or that
star which you would know from having studied the night sky. You would
recognize the constellations and you would be able to say clearly, where the
Moon was.
Then, if you looked at the Moon’s position at the same time on the following
night, you would notice that the Moon would have moved approximately
13° towards the east. That is, in the order of the signs of the zodiac. It would
have gone from west to east approximately 13°, which is its approximate
diurnal motion. The lunar movement varies between 11° – 15° giving a
mean motion of about 13° every 24 hours.
It is very important to get a sense of these two motions as they influence
techniques that we will learn later e.g. the primary motion is the basis of
primary directions and the secondary motion is the basis of the secondary
progressions. It also helps in understanding the horoscope. 8
Now, the movement of the Sun, the Moon, the planets, and the stars were all
considered to have an influence upon what are known as sub-lunary things.
Sublunary things are anything under the Moon (sub = under, lunar = the
Moon). Under the Moon is the globe of the Earth primarily made up of water
and land, which sticks up in spots above the surface of the water. Above the
water and land is the sphere of the air, which circles above, and above the
air is luminous fire or the sphere of radiant energy or fiery exhalations which
were conceived of by many of the ancients to be things like shooting stars,
comets and things of this sort. They were believed to be atmospheric or
phenomena which occurred just beyond the sphere of the air. But not quite
so far up as the sphere of the Moon.
The Moon’s motion and those of the other planets and the stars were
conceived of as stirring and disturbing the tranquillity of the elements and of
the things that existed on Earth. There are two major themes or theories of
planetary influence that come down through the Middle Ages. One of them
is that all of the spheres are somehow linked together, so that the eighth
sphere, that of the fixed stars, moves against the movement of the other
seven lower spheres, like a flywheel, which causes them to move in the
direction opposite to its own.
The other seven spheres are linked together like so many gears, which
transmit their influence in a physical sense all the way down to the spheres
of the Elements, which are stirred most distinctly by the Moon. The Moon
is the transmitter of the celestial virtue of the superiors, that is, the planets
and the stars, to the inferiors, that is, the elements and things made up of the
elements on Earth. This is a theory for planetary influence. The other major
theory as expressed in such works as Al Kindi’s On the Stellar Rays 9 is that
the colours of the light of the stars and its angle of incidence upon things on
Earth account for the diversity of things you find on the Earth.
Primary Directions and Secondary Progressions are two widely used predictive
instruments which will be defined and discussed in due course.


This kind of consideration, which is a very important part of medieval
astrological judgement, is not accounted for in Modern astrology. Yet,
you see it clearly referred to by later astrologer-magicians such as John
Dee (1527-1608). In his Propaedeumata Aphoristica, 10 Dee discusses
astrological magic and capturing the light of the stars. He even used a
certain kind of optics machine, described in the end of his book, for focusing
this light upon talismans. Just as Alkindi in On The Stellar Rays, Dee too
considered that the angle of the light of the star to be an active ingredient in
astrological influence. He concluded that the angle of incidence of this light
upon the Earth, the colour and the intensity of that light accounted for the
strength of the planetary influence that is transferred (i.e. conveyed) by that
Aristotle (384-322 BC), in his De Caelo 11 and his De Generatione et
Corruptione 12 and Physica 13 and his Metaphysica 14 discusses how things on
Earth change. He speaks of the heat, for instance, of the Sun, falling upon the
elements causing an alteration in their primitive qualities, hot/cold/wet/dry.15
As the balance of these qualities change, the elements themselves change
from one element into the other.
In this way, the element of water can change into air if it becomes hot
enough. Steam for instance was conceived of as an air. The term “gas”
that we presently use in English only dates from Van Hellmont 16 in the
seventeenth century. Being after the Renaissance it is quite late and is not
medieval. Prior to that time, both the chemical and the alchemical texts
spoke of airs and vapours as being almost synonymous so that steam was a
vapour or an air and was therefore an example of the transformation of one
element, namely water, into another element namely air. Likewise, if water
was cooled sufficiently or if air was cooled sufficiently, air would turn into
water and then ultimately it could be turned into a solid (frozen), which was
its earthy state.
The four elements thus are really so many states of matter. When we explore
this further we find that they are not really pure elements at all because
they are comprised of things which are even more elementary. These finer
elements are called the four Primitive Qualities being Hot/Cold/Wet/Dry.
The elements were conceived of as comprised of these four qualities.

Cf. John Dee on Astronomy, cited above.

The Works of Aristotle translated into English edited by W.D. Ross, Vol.II, Oxford,

The Works of Aristotle translated into English edited by W.D. Ross, Vol.II, Oxford,

The Works of Aristotle translated into English edited by W.D. Ross, Vol.II,
Oxford, 1930.

The Works of Aristotle translated into English edited by W.D. Ross, Vol.VIII,
Oxford, 1930.

Aristotle and the Stoics observed that the elements of Empedocles, fire,earth,air
and water, were not simple bodies but were themselves comprised of hot,cold,wet
and dry. These four were called “primitive qualities”.


Johannes Baptista van Helmont, 1579-1644, Belgian alchemist, early chemist.


Earth is a mixture of cold and dry, Water is cold and wet. Air is warm
(hot) and moist (wet). Fire is hot and dry. All things that exist in the sublunary world are said to be composed of these four elements and therefore
are comprised of these four primitive qualities, which are called the
elementata in Latin. 17
The superior bodies, being the bodies of the planets, were conceived of
as being made out of a fifth element called the quintessence or ether. The
hallmark of this fifth element was that is was not subject to decay or to
change. The bodies of the planets were conceived of as being immutable and
eternal and not subject to alteration. Thus, mutations were limited to things
that exist in this world that we live in or all things sub-lunar – all things
under the Moon i.e. all things on Earth or in the spheres above Earth that lie
between it and the Moon’s Sphere.
There was no question of the planetary bodies aging or more importantly
changing into something else. They moved according to Plato, Aristotle,
and the ancients, in a perfect geometrical form, namely the circle. However,
this circular thesis presented problems as study of the sky for any extended
period of time showed that the planets not only went retrograde (backwards)
occasionally but also that they did not always appear to move in a perfect
circle. This raised the question of How could this be accounted for?

Planetary Epicycles
In order to account for this diversity it was necessary to introduce more
circles. Explanation had to be found to account for the observations - why a
planet seemed to sometimes be closer to Earth than at another time or why a
planet seemed to go in a loop or retrograde etc. The answer had to lie within
the understanding of the time, namely that if all this was going on within the
non-corruptible and perfect celestial spheres, then because of its perfection,
planetary motion had to be perfect motion, namely a circular motion. This
lead to an astronomical theory of planetary motion, which accounted for
all the phenomena that were visible from the Earth, which conformed to a
perfect circular geometrical form or the ideal motion. Thus, the concept of
multiple circles was developed. According to Aristotle, about fifty of these
lesser circles were involved but according to Ptolemy, somewhat fewer.
Please now look at Figure IB. You will see a simplified example of some of
the circles. Please note Jupiter’s epicycle. These epicycles or small circles
bear the planetary body (in the example it is Jupiter but all the planets were
thought to have these) on it. The planet as you can see in the diagram is
moving in a counter-clockwise fashion on the epicycle so that it could be
anywhere on that circle.
Remember above we are talking about spheres. Thus, Jupiter must remain
within its own sphere, as do all the other planets. The epicycle moves along
a greater circle as you can see and this greater circle is called the deferent.
The ancient elements were really states of matter: fire is radiant energy, air is
gaseous state, water is liquid state and earth is solid state. Modern elements are
based on atomic theory which had little to do with ancient elements.


Jupiter in his Sph
ion of





Direct Motion


Station Retrograde Motion



Retrograde Motion


Station Direct Motion

Figure 1B
planetary motion within the sphere and epicycle

When the planet is on the far side of the deferent thus moving to o