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Astrological History

The history of astrology used to be the history of the world, but that ended when astrology fell out of favor during the "age of enlightenment" some 350 years ago. Astrological books were removed from libraries & no one bothered to preserve primary or secondary astrological source material. Few serious historians will bother with a discredited subject. As a result, much has been lost.

As a bookseller I hear a lot of gossip. How a book really came to be written, how one organization splintered to become another, who holds grudges & why, etc. I've recorded a few of these elsewhere on this website, but I want to encourage those who know to preserve their knowledge, while they still can. All of it, not just the nice parts. Historians can sort it all out later, that's their job.

Donna Cunningham is doing a wonderful service with her Astrologers' Memorial Web Page. We wish her much success.

Indicates a book on our Top Ten list. If you would like to find more books like it, click on the star.

A HISTORY OF HOROSCOPIC ASTROLOGY: From the Babylonian Period to the Modern Age, 2nd edition - James Herschel Holden, $29.95
Synopsis: This thoroughly researched book is a history of the development of western horoscopic astrology from its origin among the Babylonians, and its subsequent creation in its present form by the Alexandrians, down to modern times. Special attention is given to background history and to the working conditions and techniques used by astrologers during the last 2000 years. (From the back cover.)

Contents, comment.

AFA, 375 pages, paper.

Contents: Acknowledgements; [There are no chapter headings in this book, I have invented them - Dave]

Part 1. "Astrology in the ancient world": 1. Introduction, overview; 2. Mesopotamia, Greece, early horary & electional charts; 3. Roman emperors & their fated horoscopes, Ptolemy, Firmicus & others; 4. Islam, Charlemagne, Masha'alla, Abu Ma'shar, Al Biruni; 5. The Star of Bethlehem, Astrology & the Church, Moorish Spain, Astrology in Byzantium, St. Augustine, Comets, Eclipses, Michael Scot, Guido Bonatti, Early astrology in England, Chaucer & the Canterbury Tales.

Part 2. "Astrology in the late middle ages": 6. Astrology in the Renaissance, Marsilio Ficino, Predicted death, Jerome Cardan & medical astrology, John Dee; 7. Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler; 8. 17th century England: Astrology in Shakespeare, Astrology's silver age, Dr. Simon Foreman; 9. Nicholas Culpeper, William Lilly, the Great Fire of 1666; 10. Elias Ashmole, Samuel Butler & skeptics, Jean-Baptiste Morin, Astrology & science in the 17th & 18th centuries, John Gadbury, John Partridge, Isaac Newton.

Part 3. "Astrology in modern times": 11. Astrology under siege, The Bickerstaff / Partridge affair, John Worsdale, Ebenezer Sibley, The Declaration of Independence, The Masonic & early astrology in the US, Astrology in late 18th century Europe, Raphael, Zadkiel, Luke Broughton, W.H. Chaney & his son, Jack London; 12. Alan Leo, Walter Gorn-Old (Sepharial), Evangeline Adams & Judge John J. Freschi, Adams's many notable clients, Early 20th century newspaper astrology, Marc Edmund Jones, Dane Rudhyar, C.G. Jung, Psychological astrology, Mundane astrology in the 20th century, Astrology in World War II, Karl Ernst Krafft & Louis de Wohl, Astrology & statistics, Michel & Francoise Gauquelin, the "tremendous efflorescence of astrology" in the late 20th century resulting in chaos, John Frawley's interpretation of Hitler's chart; 13. The conjunction of Jupiter & Saturn on May 21, 2000, September 11, 2001, An Ptolemaic analysis of the chart of George W. Bush; A forecast, made in March 2004, for the election's outcome; The 1975 Humanist Manifesto; Two sets of "astral twins", their common lives & fates; Modern uses of astrology in weather forecasting, space flight, economics; W.D. Gann; Conclusion.

Glossary; Notes; Bibliography; Index.

Comment: This book describes the practical uses that have been made of astrology by western society, since the time of the Romans. Ie, how Roman emperors, popes, kings, queens, presidents & astrologers themselves have used - and abused - the art. To some extent, the book also tells us of the results. What is unmistakable is that until the early 1700's, astrology was the choice of the most intelligent individuals living in the most advanced civilizations. Roman emperors, for example, commonly knew their ultimate fate, in other words, how & when they would die. They also knew who their likely successors would be & took the usual steps to encourage their favorites & murder their opponents. For his part, Columbus, using astrometeorology, successfully avoided storms while sailing to the New World.

On page 21, Bobrick says:

The irreverent scorn in which astrology is sometimes held is ultimately based on a superstition, one all the more dangerous, as Theodore Roosevelt once remarked (in an essay entitled, The Search for Truth in a Reverent Spirit), because those suffering from it are profoundly convinced that they are freeing themselves from superstition itself. No medieval superstition.... could be more intolerant.... than that.... which not merely calls itself scientific but arrogates to itself the sole right to use the term. (Read the original here.)

The unanswered question in Bobrick's book is, can there be true civilization that does not have astrology at its core? Bobrick's book says that astrology & civilization are inseparable. This gives me hope the goal that Raphael, Leo, Carter, Hindsight, Arhat, I & many others all share, must inevitably be realized.

A refreshing, rewarding book. The New York Times gave it a full page review on February 5, 2006.

The glossary, notes, bibliography & index are all excellent.

Simon & Schuster, 369 pages. Now in paper.

THE DAWN OF ASTROLOGY: A cultural history of western astrology: Vol. 1: The ancient & classical worlds - Nicholas Campion, $29.95



1. Distant echoes: Origins of astrology
2. Prehistory: Myths & megaliths
3. The Mesopotamian cosmos: The marriage of heaven & earth
4. Mesopotamian astrology: The writing of heaven
5. The Assyrians & Persians: Revolution & reformation
6. Egypt: The kingdom of the sun
7. Egypt: The stars & the soul
8. The Hebrews: Prophets & planets
9. Greece: Homer, Hesoid & the heavens
10. Greece: The Platonic revolution
11. The Hellenistic world: The zodiac
12. The Hellenistic world: Scepticism & salvation
13. Hellenistic astrology: Signs & influences
14. Rome: The state, the stars & subversion
15. Christianity: A star out of Jacob
16. Rome: The imperial heaven
17. Christianity: The triumph of the sun

Afterword: Decline & survival

Comment: On the front cover there is this bold claim:

"The Dawn of Astrology will quickly become recognized as the standard reference for the history of Western astrology" - J. Edward Wright (Professor of Early Judiasm, University of Arizona)
Which is to say that the author hopes his book will supplant that of Mr. Tester's. I would hope so, too. Mr. Campion is an astrologer & brings great talent to his work.

This is not a Who What Why Where When book. This is an academic study of ideas & where they came from, which goes beyond the astrological. Astrology is seen as an integral part of religion, myth, philosophy and culture in general. This is an interesting premise, as there are no actual astrologers who can be made to fit this concept. Astrologer/scientist, yes, there have been many of those. Here is a sample, I have literally opened the book at random:

The Greek philosophers were theorists. This does not mean that they were not practitioners. They quite clearly were, and the development of their idea of the philosophical lifestyle, lived in harmony with the cosmos, was central to their work. They were also concerned as the Babylonian astrologers with abstract models, with what David Brown called the 'EAE paradigm', but they differed in that they were moving from models which depended on many gods, to one which required only a single creator. In their own way, too, the Babylonians had to adjust to the Zoroastrianism of their Persian rulers, and the emerging Greek philosophical monotheism should be seen as a part of an international trend. When Babylonian astrology was imported into the Greek world in the third and second centuries it was incorporated into theoretical foundations laid down by the Presocratics. However, the observational imperative was maintained. For some, astrology had to be based on empirical observation and seasonal cycles. We have just a few hints that the pragmatic, naturalistic astrology of Works and Days, Brown's 'PCP Paradigm' - the reliance on the empirical prediction of celestial phenomena and related events - was continuing. (pg. 146)
Campion's premise is that astrology was developed by means of observation. In support of this he shows us shards of ancient bone with 28 notches (illustration 2), rehashes Stonehenge (illustration 3) as an ancient observatory (a fake theory, by the way), and by trying to trace some kind of written transmission from one ancient culture to another.

A very academic book. I once had longer notes here, but I found they related more to me than to the book in question.

Continuum, 388 pages, hardcover with dustjacket.

A History of Western Astrology volume 2, by Nicholas Campion

A HISTORY OF WESTERN ASTROLOGY, volume 2: The medieval and modern worlds - Nicholas Campion, $29.95


Introduction: Origins and background

1. The Latin west: decline and disappearance
2. The Carolingian world: survival and recovery
3. The twelfth century: Renaissance and revival
4. The thirteenth century: the Aristotelian revolution
5. The thirteenth century: practice and problems
6. The high middle ages: the uses of astrology
7. The Renaissance: the pagan revival
8. The Renaissance: radicalism and reform
9. The sixteenth century: reformers and magicians
10. The seventeenth century: horoscopes and telescopes
11. The seventeenth century: practitioners and politics
12. The eighteenth century: Newton's children
13. The eighteenth century: magicians and poets
14. The nineteenth century: Enlighenment entrepreneurs 15. The nineteenth century: magicians and socialists
16. The nineteenth century: the Theosophical enlightenment
17. The twentieth century: new age and ancient teachings
18. The twentieth century: psychology and the popular press
19. The twentiety century: skeptics and scientists
20. The twenty-first century: Epilogue



The book, which follows on from the first volume (above), is a densely worded ramble. It opens in the 5th century and continues to the 21st. I did a page-by-page skim through the sections on the Renaissance, early scientific period (with rare mention of "Enlightenment"), William Lilly, etc. Which are crucial to understanding what astrology once was and what it eventually became. It is not that I agree or disagree with what the author says, but that Campion is nowhere clear as to what he is writing about. This is apparent in the Introduction, where we would expect to find the author's best, clearest statement of what he is about, but which is here a maddenly confusing, contradictory mess.

Continuum, 371 pages.

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THE STAR OF THE MAGI: The mystery that heralded the coming of Christ - Courtney Roberts, $14.99



1. Matthew: The Gospel to the Hebrews
2. Jerusalem's debt to the Persians
3. The Magi in history
4. Empire of the soul
5. The Magi & astrology
6. Which star was it?
7. The legacy of the Magi
8. The millennium & the Messiah
9. Pisces & procession
10. The Magi's Messiah

Chapter notes

Comment: As is well-known, Matthew's is the only Gospel that mentions the fabled Star of Bethlehem, for which there seems scant historical evidence. So what does Courtney think? Jupiter by itself? Triple conjunction of Saturn & Jupiter? In chapter 6, she suggests a nova & says there are Chinese & Korean arguments to support the idea. It's as good an idea as anyone has come up with yet.

The book is, overall, a survey - a very good one - of the very many individual details that went into the story, such as Who were the Magi, what sort of astrology did they practice, what was their prior connection to the Hebrews, what does the key Greek phrase, en te anatole ("the star in the east") really mean & why is it not gramatically correct, etc.

In the process she easily demolishes the work of many other pretenders, such as the 1999 book by Michael Molnar, though without ever quite producing her own solution. Of critical importance, I think, is her discovery of links between the Persians & the Hebrews. I myself once proposed a solution, and with Courney's observation, and my own work on the Ages, I think I might now have a complete, sensible solution. Which I will write as soon as I can find the time. Meanwhile, get this book & learn more about this most mysterious event.

New Page, 223 pages.

FLIRTING WITH THE ZODIAC - Kim Farnell, $27.00
Contents: Foreword, by Shelly von Strunckel; Introduction;

1. This is his animal - the ancient world
2. Glad hearts - the dark ages
3. Mark of a worm - the middle ages
4. The shephard's calendar
5. Going natural - the sixteenth century
6. Wind & fruit - almanacs
7. Astrology's golden age
8. The Enlightenment & early 19th century
9. The ninteeth century revival
10. No less an exact science - the Theosophists
11. Hated virtues - Solar biology
12. Alan Leo
13. Evangeline Adams
14. Fencers & Bearwards - astrology & the law
15. Popular astrology in the 1920's
16. Cheiro
17. Popular astrology in the 1930's
18. Eary sun sign columns
19. The 1930's boom in sun sign astrology
20. The big fight - Naylor versus Barbanell
21. Astrology & popular culture in the 1930's
22. Entering the Age of Aquarius - the 1960's
23. The Queen of sun sign astrology - Linda Goodman
24. Scientists fight back
25. Thirteen signs?
26. Hall of fame

Bibliography; Index.

Comment: The title comes from a comment by D.H. Lawrence:

We need not feel ashamed of flirting with the zodiac. The zodiac is well-worth flirting with.
There is a refreshing breeziness, an unstuffiness, to the book. True, sun signs will not be the most profound thing to hit you between the eyes today, but they are persistent & subtle. They form both a background & a foundation for the daily lives of countless millions. Farnell's examination is both welcome, and long overdue.

Like their Chinese cousins, the animals of the year, sun-signs are the ultimate astrological reduction. One of the amazing things about astrology is that it will give good, worth-while results regardless of the level of sophistication & technique employed. In this, as in so many other ways, astrology is unique in the world.

Much to my surprise (much to everybody's), the history of sun-sign astrology far predates the 20th century. As popular fortune-telling, Farnell can trace sun-sign astrology back to the Romans, if not before. Always, it seems, there were the rich sophisticates who demanded state-of-the-art astrological counsel (see Benson Bobrick, above), and then there were the masses of the unwashed, who simply wanted their fortune told. Since history is the story of the rich, we only know of the condition of the common people by inference. Sun-signs are just another one of them. Written records of popular astrology are, of course, sparse before Gutenberg & are to be found mostly in the form of complaints brought by crown or Church authorities. So far as the early days of printing are concerned, preservation of the many hundreds of early "catch-pennies" is spotty at best. While formal astrology declined in the 18th century, sales of almanacs & sun-sign guide continued strongly.

Modern astrology began with the famous Prophetic Messenger of Robert Cross Smith, aka Raphael, in 1826. Much of Farnell's book is taken up with a detailed account of 19th & 20th century popular astrology. In 1930, the famous Cheiro was asked to write a newspaper column, but passed it off to his assistant, R.H. Naylor. What Naylor wrote has come down to us as the daily horoscope, but despite his own beliefs, he in fact did not invent it.

Farnell recounts Leo's and Adams's famous legal battles, but also includes, for the first time that I know of, accounts of UK anti-astrology legal cases from as late as the 1940's, charges of fortune-telling, witchcraft & vagrancy. Not for nothing did many of the most famous English astrologers take up assumed names (Leo, Raphael, Cheiro, Sepharial, Charubel & numerous others).

The final chapter contains brief biographies of famous sun-sign astrologers. The bibliography is extensive & includes a very long list of internet sources. This book is an excellent companion to Mr. Bobrick's, above.

Wessex Astrologer, 228 pages.

CARDANO'S COSMOS: The worlds & works of a Renaissance astrologer - Anthony Grafton, $17.50
Contents: Preface; 1. The master of time; 2. The astrologer's practice; 3. The prognosticator; 4. The astrologer; 5. Becoming an author; 6. Astrologers in collision; 7. The astrologer as political counselor; 8. Classical astrology restored; 9. Rival disciplines explored; 10. Cardano on Cardano; 11. The astrologer as empiricist.
Notes; Bibliography; Index.

Comment: From the back cover: Girolamo Cardano (aka Cardan) (1501 - 1576) was an Italian doctor, natural philosopher & mathematician who became a best-selling author in Renaissance Europe. He was also a leading astrologer of his day. In Cardano's Cosmos Anthony Grafton invites readers to follow this astrologer's extraordinary career & explore the art & discipline of astrology in the hands of a brilliant practitioner. Grafton also maps the context of market & human forces that shaped Cardano's practices - and the maneuvering that kept him at the top of a world rife with patronage, politics & vengeful rivals.

I had a copy of this book on the shelf one day when Rob Hand came to visit (he lives in the area, this happens from time to time). He opened it & pointed out a passage in it. He remarked how impressed he was with the book.

Harvard University Press, 284 pages.

THE MOMENT OF ASTROLOGY, Origins in Divination - Geoffrey Cornelius, $37.00
Contents: Foreword, by Patrick Curry; Preface to the 2nd edition; Introduction.
1. The scourge of astrology; 2. An anti-astrology signature; 3. Science & symbol 1: Humpty-Dumpty; 4. Science & symbol 2: Two orders of significance; 5. Ptolemy's broad shoulders: The moment of astrology in the western tradition; 6. The question of horary; 7. Katarche: The line of descent from augury; 8. Horary revived; 9. Some genius or spirit; 10. The unique case of interpretation; 11. Appearances: The symbol in context; 12. Images of birth; 13. Images of the world; 14. The fourfold symbol I: Divination & allegory; 15. The fourfold symbol II: Water into wine; 16. Astrology as the gift of the soul.
Appendices: 1. Pico's disputations; 2. The NCGR-Berkeley double-blind test; 3. Charles Carter on horary; 4. Frankland's 'missing father'; 5. Ashmole on astrology; 6. Reworking Sibley; 7. Case study: Stella. Index.

Comment: Geoffrey Cornelius's celebrated book is back in print.

How are astrologers able to go about their craft, how are horary astrologers, in particular, able to give precise locations of missing persons & objects, and yet astrology, as a whole, remains incapable of scientific proof? (Did you ever wonder about that?) Using strict astrological symbolism, Cornelius demonstrates two axioms:

The same-time coming together of OBJECTIVE EVENT and OBJECTIVE HEAVENS is not a necessary condition for the astrological effect to come to pass, and the very similar

The same-time coming together of OBJECTIVE EVENT and OBJECTIVE HEAVENS is not a sufficient condition for the astrological effect to come to pass. (Both from pg. 83, emphasis in the originals.)

What Cornelius means by this is that the existence of an object or event, and the astrological chart that may describe it, do not necessarily have any strictly defined linkage in time or space. The event & its astrological chart are linked because, at some other instant in time, an astrologer (or diviner) found the symbolisms that linked them. This is most obvious in horary astrology. If you lost your watch at 11:37 pm EST on Thursday in New York, but only phoned your horary astrologer in Los Angeles at 2:34 pm PST the following day, the critical link between these two seemingly unrelated moments in time is that of the astrologer who linked them. This despite the fact that neither the time nor general location where the watch was lost was of interest to the astrologer.

Cornelius demonstrates this brilliantly. In the September/October 1975 issue of the Humanist was the famous Objections to Astrology, signed by 186 scientists, among them 18 Nobel Prize winners. It was a bold attempt to shatter astrology once & for all. Along with the broadside, the authors, Bok, Kurtz & Jerome, included an astrological chart picked at random, set for November 23, 1907, 4 am EST, New York. Bok found this chart in an unrelated article by Margaret W. Mayall from 1941, which Mayall, again, said was picked at random. So far as is known, this is not the chart of any person or thing. Its only stated purpose was to demonstrate chart construction (Cornelius notes it was not even calculated correctly, he reads it as is).

Cornelius discovered this chart precisely described the Humanist attack that occurred 68 years later. Progressions taken from this chart precisely timed not only the Humanist attack, but also its previous use in 1941. The 1907 chart was, in astrological terms, radical, even though it should not have been. Cornelius writes, From these considerations I conclude that the 1907 horoscope, arbitrarily derived decades before its star turn, not only symbolizes the 1975 attack, it also times it. (pg. 31)

In this second edition, the author has revised chapters 4 & 7, chapter 11 expands the discussion of Graeme Tobyn's orange-omen, which concerns a chart in one of Culpeper's books that diagnosed two pregnancies 337 years apart. Chapter 13 is wholly new, chapter 16 was completely reworked. Chapter 12, on Princess Diana & her two charts (both work, both exactly time events in her life, though they differ by more than five hours) is extended to her death in 1997. In the appendices, the notes on the famous US Sibley horoscope, are new.

One of the great astrology books of the 20th century, one to be read & reread. It will change how you think about astrology.

Wessex Astrologer, 386 pages.

FORESEEING THE FUTURE: Evangeline Adams & Astrology in America - Karen Christino, $14.95
Contents: Introduction; New York, 1899; Looking Backwards; Andover Days; A Whole New World; The Lure of the Occult; On Her Own; New York, New York; Problems & Publicity; Evangeline & the Law; The Magician; Here Comes Mr. Jordan; Big Business; Onward & Upward; Boom & Bust; Superstar; Fading Light; Epilogue; Appendix; Notes; Bibliography; Index.

Comment: As is well-known among astrologers, Evangeline Adams was perhaps the most famous American astrologer to date. By the time of her death in 1932, she was a national media star with a thrice-weekly radio show, offices in New York's Carnegie Hall (they're at the back of the building) & some 25 assistants handling thousands of letters a week, all this & more among her many accomplishments. She was intensely talented right from the start & made no effort to hide her astrological work. As a result, she was unsuccessfully prosecuted several times while in New York City. The transcript of the most famous trial, in 1914, concludes with the famous words of Judge Freschi: "The defendant raises astrology to the level of an exact science..." Reading the transcript, I was struck by the similarity to William Lilly's famous trial of the 1660's: On the witness stand, both defendants weaseled their way out of trouble, in my view. But aside from that, Christino's biography is excellent in all respects, one that repays close study. One Reed Publications, 217 pages.

WHAT EVANGELINE ADAMS KNEW, A book of astrological charts & techniques - Karen Christino, $19.95
Contents: List of horoscope charts; Acknowledgements; Introduction

Part 1: Who Evangeline Knew: 1. An astrological education; 2. A life in Astrology: The magician, A marriage made in heaven?, Friends & associates

Part 2: What Evangeline Knew: 3. Adams' famous fortune-telling trial; 4. An astrologer's toolkit: Electional & event charts, General forecasting (Dr. Smith's reading, Adams' new horary, Natal readings, Decumbitures & death, Outcomes of political elections, Mundane forecasting)


Appendix 1: Evangeline Adams' birth chart
Appendix 2: Dr. Broughton's essential dignities
Appendix 3: In her own words
Appendix 4: Writings of Adams' teachers & friends


Comment: Essentially, this book continues & deepens the biography, above. After a couple of introductory chapters, the famous 1914 trial for fortunetelling is used as a springboard to an examination of Adams's astrological techniques. Many of these techniques were derived from Dr. Luke Broughton (1828-1898) & Dr. J. Heber Smith (1842-1913?), both of them familiar to students of Adams. Some of these will be familiar to the experienced astrologer, but there are many surprises as well. Christino shows how Adams read specific charts, then applies the same principles to more recent charts. Aside from underlying training & talent, the reason Adams was as good as she was, was that she saw upwards of 8 clients a day, for decades. Endless practice hones a fine skill.

This book also includes details of Adams's "new horary" technique for reading natal charts. Adams would take the degree rising at the time the client walked in the door, find it on the natal, and use its position & the conjunction of any transiting and/or natal planets to it, to determine the client's question, as well as her own response. She would apply the same technique to any other charts that came up during the session, such as those of spouses, children, parents, business partners, etc. Adams claims this simple technique never failed.

Stella Mira Books, 241 pages.

CONFIDENTIAL RECOLLECTIONS REVEALED - Gustav-Lambert Brahy, translated from the French by James Herschel Holden, $19.95

Translator's preface
By way of a preface

Looking for a vocation
Initiation into the phenomena of spiritualism
First contacts with magic & the science of the stars
An astrological vocation
Campaign for the rehabilitation of a repudiated murder
About the "commercialization" of astrology
Conflicts between astrology & occultism
Fifteen years of professionalism
Astrology at the bank of proof of the stock exchange
About some international conventions; Under the shadow of the Swastika
A trip to the United States; The phantom of Mrs. Elizabeth
The international convention at Paris, The end of a dream
A critique of the modern astrological movement; Conflicts & polemics
The public such as it is
The speculation in images
Can one speak of an astrological "science"?
From the invasison of Belgium to the reappearance of the periodical Domain
The periodical Domain under the occupation
Bill & statement of profits & losses
Postface & P.P.C.

Index of persons

Comment: Here is the AFA's blurb for this book:

"This is the autobiography of an occultist & pioneer astrologer from 1894 to 1946. Brahy founded the Belgian Institute of Astrology & its astrological journal, Demain [Tomorrow], and he also founded the Belgian branch of the Rosicrucian Fellowship. From the late 1920's on, he published stock market advisory letters & a book explaining the astrological methods that he used. He gives an account of the development of astrology in the 1920's & 1930's, culminating with the three International Congresses of Astrologers in Europe & his visits to the US in 1937 & 1939. And he tells how astrology managed to thrive during the Nazi occupation of Belgium, 1940-1944.

"He also gives a valuable assessment of the difficulties encountered in managing both an astrological consulting business & a magazine & book publishing business. And throughout the book he discusses the problems of astrology & its place in modern society. Readers interested in Astrology & Rosicrucianism will find many fascinating details of Brahy's experiences & associations with leading figures in those fields."

The translator, James Holden, has long had an interest in the history of European astrology. For those of us in the English speaking world, knowledge of continental astrology is essential.

AFA, 217 pages.




Preface to the published edition

The biographical dictionary


This book was based on the earlier Astrological Pioneers of America (see immediately below) and is an expansion on it. The earlier geographical restrictions have been removed. This book now also extends backwards in time. You will find in its pages William Lilly, Firmicus Maternus, Claudius Ptolemy, Vettius Valens and many more. You will also find many, many unjustly forgotten foreign names. This is now as a complete and comprehensive reference as is possible for a single man to produce, remembering always that teams of researchers are generally required to produce a book of this size.

The book includes some 2200 astrologers. Whenever possible, it includes birth and death data, date, time and place. As Holden himself says, History is made by people, so biography is the basis of history.

In the English speaking world, we sometimes think astrology originated in Greece and then magically appeared in England and America. This, I am happy to say, is not true, and this book will provide a rich sampling of international astrologers through the ages. Of more recent astrologers, the previous cut-off of births in or prior to 1923 has now been raised to 1936, or, in a few cases, later, although deceased. This book is intended to supplement the author's History of Horoscopic Astrology, which you will find, above.

It is long past time that astrologers themselves took the lead in preserving our own history. The days of begging academics to give us a look-see I suppose will never end, but we can and will write our own histories, even if Wiki's express policy is to prohibit all mention that we have done so.

This book was intended for use by libraries. I might pick at it and find a great many trivial faults, chief among them the inclusion of many minor American astrologers, but it is better to err on the side of completeness. I only wish astrologers who were active in, say, the 1980's and who are still alive and noteworthy, had been included as well.

Though the author hopes his books will be the start of an on-going series of astrological reference works, they are more likely to be orphans. In this regard, the AFA itself will be critical. When the day comes that Mr. Holden resigns his post as its Research Director, I am hopeful the AFA will speedily appoint another, and assign him the task of keeping Mr. Holden's works up to date. I cannot stress enough how important the American Federation of Astrologers is, and will remain, to the future of astrology in the US, as well as to the world as a whole.

I regret this book, which weighs nearly five pounds and is two inches thick, will be extraordinarily expensive to ship. There is the possibility that I will ask the AFA to drop ship, and that they will ask the printer, Lightning Source, to drop ship in their stead. If so, delivery would be about two weeks.

AFA, 777 pages, hardcover, oversize.

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ASTROLOGICAL PIONEERS OF AMERICA - James H. Holden & Robert A. Hughes, $20.95
Comment: From 1988, this eventually formed the core of Holden's A History of Horoscopic Astrology (above). This is a biographical dictionary of American astrologers: Professionals, teachers, writers & students, born 1923 or earlier, as well as younger astrologers who were already deceased, a total of some 1300 entries in all. Includes birth data when available, biographical information & selected bibliographic listings. Also included is an appendix of foreign astrologers associated with US astrologers, some 148 entries. Most of the entries are brief. This is a fascinating & essential catalog of the famous, near famous & completely obscure. Originally issued to commemorate AFA's 50th anniversary in 1988. At the time the AFA was briefly using an inferior printer & as a result, the binding on this book will crack & the pages will fall out. Buyer beware! There are no returns for a bad binding with this book (apologies!).

AFA, 237 pages, paper.

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