Astrological Tiles from William Morris Tile

This morning, a FedEx parcel, sent by Christine Norstrand, the owner of William Morris Tile, arrived at Stars and Stones Astrology HQ.

Christine, a capable astrologer herself, is the artist and creative mind behind William Morris Tile, located in Oregon. To see all the wonderful tiles she makes and sells, please have a look at her company’s website by clicking on the logo, below:

What is likely of most interest to the gentle readers of this web log, are the astrologically themed tiles Christine produces and sells. Before we have a look at the content of the box I received, I would like to say a few words about the level of attention and care Christine invests in her products and her customers. From the moment the parcel was posted in the US, up until the morning of its arrival in England today, I was kept informed about every step of the way. Delivery was quick and unproblematic, packaging was spot on and there was no damage to any of the tiles. Christine even went as far as to consider planetary influences, not sending the parcel until the danger of it getting “caught in the Mars Saturn square” had passed.

But let’s now have a look at the tiles themselves. I will begin with Luna and Venus, from Broeder Gheraerts.

The images are from: Wilhelmi Walteri de Zirixsee descriptio terre sancte. Broeder Gheraerts Naturkunde, Niederlande, 15 C.

Christine writes in a letter, accompanying the tiles, that “…] although they are not talismanic tiles, they were made when Luna and Venus were in Mutual Reception”. Considering that some of these tiles will end up as a backdrop on the chimney breast in our living room, this is reassuring to know.

Next, I show some of the tiles from the well known De Sphaera series:

Finally, the four tiles showing Morning Star, Evening Star, Venus and Luna of Edward Burns-Jones, a British artist and designer associated with the phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, who worked with William Morris on decorative arts. It is said that the originals were, until 2008, owned by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin.

 All I can add is the fact that these photos do not do the quality of the product justice. These tiles are of the highest quality and need to be seen in reality to be fully appreciated.

Using Solar Revolutions/Returns and Profections in the Birth Chart – In my interview with Mychal A. Brian from Oraculos

Solar Returns and Profections have made quite the comeback in the 21st century! In this interview with Mychal A. Bryan, I am guiding the viewer through how we can use and apply these two traditional predictive techniques within our Astrology.



The Tradition Journal & Library Reloaded



Edited between 2008 and 2010 The Tradition Journal was a publication entirely dedicated to Traditional Western Predictive Astrology. At the time there were no journals or publications specialised solely on Traditional Astrology, and The Tradition came to fill this gap. Later came the experimental project of The Tradition Library which published sources that were unavailable at the time.

Now, a decade after the last issue, The Tradition and its sister project, The Tradition Library are again available to students. Once more, as a decade ago, we seek to encourage the research and study of the Art, serving as a point of reference for those interested in the Tradition


The Tradition Library. This project, active between 2009 and 2011, brought the work of the authors of the Western Predictive Tradition in the form of transcriptions of their texts (entire or in part), commentaries, historical birth data with original horoscopes where possible, and other materials. All  these texts are now available free of charge for the students of the Tradition.

To access The Tradition Journal and Tradition Library website, click the picture below:

Screenshot 2020-08-11 at 20.15.29

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse 5 July 2020

There will be a penumbral lunar eclipse on 5 July 2020. It will be visible from some parts of North America during moonrise, South and North America, the extreme part of Namaqua Land in South Africa and Western Africa (completely visible), and in southwestern Europe New Zealand, some parts of the Pacific Ocean, Central-, East Africa (except Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and a strip of North Eastern Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia) and some parts of North Africa and some parts of the Indian Ocean during moonset.

The Moon will start to enter Earth’s shadow at 03:07 UT and the maximum partial eclipse will occur at 04:30 UT. The entire eclipse will last for around two hours forty-five minutes, ending at 05:52 UT. The map below shows the visibility of the eclipse:


The chart below, cast for London, shows the event:

Full Moon eclipse July 2020

Before we will discuss any possible effects on the individual, we have a look at the mundane astrological implications of this eclipse. To be able to do this, we need to establish where the eclipse is likely to have its greatest effect. For this purpose we need to look at the countries or cities falling under the rulership of Capricorn, the sign wherein the eclipse Moon resides during the event. We also have to take into consideration that the eclipse’s visibility will greatly enhance its effect.

The map above shows the paths of angularity for Sun (red) and Moon (black):

Screenshot 2020-06-28 at 10.21.15

Looking through traditional source material, we find that Albania, Austria (particularly Styria), Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, France (particularly Gaunt at Somme), Germany (particularly Brandenburg, Constance, Juliers, Saxony, and Thuringia), Greece, Iran (Ariana), Italy (particularly Toronta and Derthona), Lithuania, Macedonia, UK (particularly Orkney Islands and Oxford), are the locations traditionally thought to fall under the rulership of Capricorn.

From the above, it is noticeable that North America, South America, Africa and Spain are on the path of this lunar eclipse. This makes it possible that some eclipse related events may occur. Also, with the eclipsed Moon located close to the Ascendant in North America, it is likely that any eclipse related event will occur very soon after the actual date of the eclipse.

The Moon is placed in the second decanate of Capricorn, which is ruled by Mars. According to William Lilly’s Annus Tenebrosus, an eclipsed Moon in the second decanate of Capricorn indicates:

“uprores very frequent on the Souldiery, often incursions into neighbour-Countries, Captivities, Plunderings.”

Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, the Greater Malefic, which shows that things are likely to get problematic. Again we can look to William Lilly, who wrote about Saturn being eclipse ruler:

“He is generally the cause of corruptions by reason of cold, more properly he declares continued diseases in the bodyes of men, as wasting of the body, or a consumption which hath its originall from some reflux of Reume, her denotes Disturbance of radicall Humours, Fluxes, Quartane Agues, Banishments, Poverty, Miserie, Lamentation, vain fears, mortality of old men especially […]”

There are also some important conjunctions between the Lunar North Node and fixed stars Betelgeuse and Polaris, and the Lunar South Node and fixed stars Acumen and Eltanin, which will add to the scope of this eclipse:

The North Lunar Node is conjunct Betelgeuse, which is of the nature of Mars and Mercury, can be associated with injuries through fire or explosive substances.

The North Lunar Node is also conjunct Polaris, which has a reputation for loss and trouble or sickness.

The Lunar South Node is conjunct Acumen, in Scorpius, associated with danger to the eyes, especially in association with the Sun and Moon.

Finally, a conjunction between the Lunar South Node and Eltanin, in Draco, which can be a proneness to fluctuating and volatile conditions in life.

On a personal level, an eclipse usually affects only a small number of people. To establish the possibility of any effect to take place, the birth chart should be scrutinized for any of the following:

  • Moon is in or around 13* Capricorn
  • Moon is in or around 13* Cancer (opposition)
  • 13* Capricorn is culminating in the birth chart (conjunct Midheaven)
  • 13* Capricorn is ascending in the birth chart (conjunct Ascendant)

Should it be the case that one or even more of these factors apply, an in-depth reading of the birth chart may be necessary to find out if, how and to what extent the native could be affected.


Annular Solar Eclipse 21 June 2020

On 21 June, at 06:40UT, there will be an annular solar eclipse. The Sun and the Moon will be conjunct in 00*21′ Cancer.

The annular phase of this eclipse will be visible from parts of Africa including the Central African Republic, Congo, and Ethiopia; south of Pakistan and northern India. It will also be visible in China. Regions seeing, at least, a partial eclipse will be South/East Europe, Much of Asia, Northern parts of Australia, the Pacific, and the Indian Ocean.


The eclipse is a part of Saros cycle 137, repeating every 18 years, 11 days, containing 70 events. The series started with partial solar eclipse on May 25, 1389. The 21 June 2020 solar eclipse was preceded by the solar eclipse of 10 June 2002 and will be followed by the solar eclipse of 2 July 2038.

The chart below, cast for London, shows the eclipse:solar eclipse 2020

Before we will discuss any possible effects on the individual, we have a look at the mundane astrological implications of this eclipse. To be able to do this, we need to establish where the eclipse is likely to have its greatest effect. For this purpose we need to look at the countries or cities falling under the rulership of Cancer, the sign wherein the eclipsed Sun resides during the event. We also have to take into consideration that the eclipse’s visibility will greatly enhance its effect.

Looking through traditional source material, we find that  Africa, Algiers, Amsterdam, Bithynia (Asia Minor), Burgundy, Cadiz, Carthage, Constantinople (Turkey), Genoa, Granada, Holland, Lubeck, Magdeburg (Germany), Milan (Italy), Pisa (Italy), Prussia, Scotland, Tunis, Venice, Wittenberg, York and Zealand are the locations traditionally thought to fall under the rulership of Cancer.

Below is a map, showing the eclipse’s lines of angularity (ASC and MC):

map eclipse 2020With the eclipse point close to the MC in India, China, Russia and Kazakhstan, we should take note that eclipse themed events could take place there in the next 6 months.

The chart below shows the eclipse cast for New Delhi. We note that eclipse chart Mars is on the DC, square the eclipse point on the Midheaven. This also means that the Lesser Malefic opposes the Ascendant, in Virgo. (N.B. Mercury, Lord of the Ascendant is also in Cancer, located in the 10th house). In mundane astrology, the first house signifies the general condition poverty/prosperity or illness/health of the country in question. There is also the link to the 10th house via retrograde Mercury – again, in mundane astrology the 10th house signifies national reputation, employment rate, etc.

ecliopse chart new delhi 2020

To get into more detail, the eclipse point is in the first Decanate of Cancer, which is ruled by Venus, therefore we have to look at her and the Moon as eclipse ruler. In mundane astrology, the Moon signifies the common people, but as well the matter these people are focusing on. Venus in mundane charts signifies social factors connected to marriage and children but also issues of peace and diplomatic resolutions.

Broadly speaking, eclipses in Cancer signify, according to William Lilly:

“… a rottenness or corruption in the fruit when its gathered, occasioning surfets, and sicknesses unto such as eat them, Sea fights, long and dangerous Navigations.”.

William Lilly also writes in his Annus Tenebrous, that a solar eclipse in the first Decanate of Cancer:

“… disturbs the ayr, and stirs up strange weather, and variety of it, inclines men to Arms, and to violate National Leagues, deceitfully under the species of Religion.”

We also have to add to the picture that Sun and Moon are conjunct fixed star Menkalinan, causing ruin, disgrace, and frequently violent death. [Robson, p175f]. Venus, who is co-ruler of the eclipse is conjunct Prima Hyadum, in Gemini, the leading star of the Hyades cluster in the constellation of Taurus, that brings sudden events, reversals, tears and sometimes violence. 

All in all it seems that this eclipse will add to the already volatile situation occurring world wide. People who are obvioiusly (and rightly) expecting strong leadership may feel disappointed, left confused and without clear guidance. This may also spill over into themes of a religious nature, whereby certain religious stock phrases or views may be used to peddle doubtful ideologies. The world economy will most likely see a continued downturn, with all its resulting negative effects for communities as well s individuals.

The angularity chart shows that the effects of this eclipse will be affecting us during at least the next six months, whereby Asia will be highlighted. All of this may be a prelude to the upcoming Great Conjunction (Saturn/Jupiter conjunction December 2020), which will take place in Aquarius. This conjunction highlights the mundane astrological shift of emphasis from Earth (Taurus) towards Air (Aquarius) which points towards Asia beginning to play a much more of a dominant role.


It is useful to know that the last time a solar eclipse occurred in Cancer was in June 2001. It may be of merit to expect and prepare for a repeat of some of the personal experiences that occurred back in 2001. Although an eclipse usually affects only a small number of people, it may be beneficial to try to remember if any problems occurred during this year. If so, but also to generally establish the possibility of any effect that could take place, the birth chart should be scrutinised for any of the following:

  • Sun or Moon are in or around 00* Cancer
  • Sun or Moon are in or around 00* Capricorn (opposition)
  • 00* Cancer is culminating in the birth chart (conjunct Midheaven)
  • 00* Cancer is ascending in the birth chart (conjunct Ascendant)

Should it be the case that one or even more of these factors apply, an in-depth reading of the birth chart may be necessary to find out if, how and to what extent the native could be affected.


NEW Expanded & Updated Annual Prediction Reading – available now!

Due to the recent publication of new traditional astrological source material, my most popular reading, the Annual Prediction, has been expanded and updated. The reading now draws on (new additions in red):

  • Fardars

According to this technique, each of the seven planets has a certain number of determinate years allocated; every planet disposes the native according to the appropriate fardar.

  • Profections, including Lord of the Year and Lord of the Orb

The Lord of the Orb is the lord of the planetary hour, delivering accurate information valid throughout the projected year.

  • Solar Revolution (expanded)

This is the core of the Annual Prediction reading. The chart for the solar revolution (i.e. the native’s birthday) of the upcoming solar year in question is cast and compared to the nativity.

  • Distributions and Primary Directions

These powerful techniques can help to focus on important triggers and also narrow down the likely timing of events.

  • Transits

Here we take an in-depth look at the transits of Saturn and Jupiter, which also helps to narrow down windows of occurrence.


For detailed information regarding each technique and more, click the link below and select Annual Prediction from the list:



Appulse Lunar Eclipse 5 June 2020

There will be a partial lunar eclipse on 5 June 2020. Regions seeing, at least, some parts of the eclipse will be most of Europe, most of Asia, Australia, Africa, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and Antarctica.

The Moon will start to enter Earth’s shadow at 17:45UT and the maximum partial eclipse will occur at 19:25UT. The entire eclipse will last for about 3 hours 18 minutes, ending at 21:03UT. The map below shows the visibility of the eclipse:

The chart below, cast for London, shows the event:

Before we are going to discuss any possible effects on the individual, we should have a look at the mundane astrological implications of this eclipse. To be able to do this, we need to establish where the eclipse is likely to have its greatest effect. For this purpose we need to look at the countries or cities falling under the rulership of Sagittarius, the sign wherein the eclipse Moon resides during the event. We also have to take into consideration that the eclipse’s visibility will greatly enhance its effect.

Looking through traditional astrological source material, we find that Greece (and there particularly Attica), Arabia, France (particularly Avignon), Hungary (particularly Budapest), Germany (particularly Cologne, Meissen, Judenburg, Rottenburg, Stuttgart), Italy (particularly Colonia, Volterra), Yugoslavia (particularly Dalmatia, Modena), Croatia, Gascovia in the Basque region, Czechoslovakia (particularly Moravia), Sclavonia (around Bulgaria), and Spain (particularly Toledo) may be affected.

The map above shows the paths of angularity for Sun (red) and Moon (black)

From the above, it is noticeable that Spain, France and Germany are not only falling under the rulership of Sagittarius, but that they are also on the path of this lunar eclipse. This makes it more likely that some eclipse related events may occur. Also, with the eclipsed Moon located close to the Ascendant, it is likely that any eclipse related event will occur very soon after the actual date of the eclipse.

According to Ptolemy, this eclipse, being in a four-footed, common, fire sign, close to the Ascendant, suggests an effect on four-footed dumb animals, humans, kings, but also crops, youth, and foundations. The Moon is placed in Sagittarius’ first decanate, which is also ruled by the Moon. According to William Lilly’s Annus Tenebrosus, an eclipsed Moon in the first decanate of Sagittarius indicates:

“Dieseases rage against and amongst Horses, Mules &c. The Seas troubled with Pyrats”

With Jupiter being eclipse ruler, we can also look to William Lilly, who wrote about Jupiter being eclipse ruler:

“When Jupiter alone has the chiefest Dominion in an Eclips, generally he products an increase of all things. […]

This is well and good but the problem, as far as I can see it, is that Jupiter is in his fall in Capricorn. This greatly debilitates him and also puts him under the rulership of Saturn, the Greater Malefic. Also, we notice that Jupiter is conjunct fixed star Terebellum. Robson writes in his Fixed Stars and Constellations about Terebellum that:

“It gives a fortune but with regret and disgrace, cunning, a mercenary nature and repulsiveness.”

There is also a tight square between both eclipse points and Mars, the Lesser Malefic. Furthermore Mars is in mixed reception with Jupiter, being his exaltation ruler in Pisces, in the 3rd house. Together with what has been said above, this could be interpreted in the way that matters are generally improving but also that care has to be taken not to get too overexcited.

In mundane astrology, the Moon signifies the common people, whereas the Sun, due to the eclipse being in opposition to the Moon, represents the Prime Minister and all people in authority. Mars, who signifies strikes, conflicts and opposition forces, is squaring both the eclipsed Moon and the Sun, which makes the resulting scenario self-explanatory.

On a personal level, an eclipse usually affects only a small number of people. To establish the possibility of any effect to take place, the birth chart should be scrutinized for any of the following:

  • Moon is in or around 15 Sagittarius
  • Moon is in or around 15 Gemini (opposition)
  • 15 Gemini is culminating in the birth chart (conjunct Midheaven)
  • 15 Gemini is ascending in the birth chart (conjunct Ascendant)

Should it be the case that one or even more of these factors apply, an in-depth reading of the birth chart may be necessary to find out if, how and to what extent the native could be affected.

On The Great Conjunction – The Development of an Idea

Great Conjunction 2020

With the next Great Conjunction looming ever closer, I am republishing an article first published in The Tradition Magazine, back in 2008.


On The Great Conjunction


The Development of an Idea

The idea of ever-repeating cycles and the concept of the eternal return must have fascinated mankind since the dawn of history. In the following article I want to shed light on one of these cycles, namely the conjunction between the two highest planets Jupiter and Saturn. I will try to show how the idea of the interpretation of a conjunction for the prediction of events on a mundane level developed through history. The conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn, or great conjunctions as they are called, are moving in a particular pattern across the Zodiac, forming an 800 year cycle that can be divided into sub-cycles. Let us have a closer look at this intriguing cycle which has fascinated astrologers for at least 1200 years.

Jupiter’s annual motion is about 30˚ and Saturn’s position moves about 12˚ per year. Leaving a difference of approximately 18˚ per year, Jupiter is conjunct Saturn every 20 years. After 20 years, the occurring conjunction will take place 240˚, or eight signs, further along the zodiac. Were these figures to be exact, the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions would always take place in one of the three signs of the same element.

But this is not the case. The exact duration between two conjunctions is 19.8 years, which means that, over time, the place of conjunction moves backwards through each sign. Therefore after about 200 years one cycle of conjunctions in the signs of one particular element comes to an end and another cycle of conjunctions in signs of the following element begins. Again after about 800 years the conjunctions have taken place in the signs of all four elements and another, new, 800 year cycle begins.

Only when a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction is placed opposite the Sun does the rare phenomenon of a triple conjunction take place. Saturn overtakes Jupiter, making the first conjunction; after that both planets become retrograde and Jupiter is overtaking Saturn again. After this, the second conjunction, both planets are turning direct again and are eventually forming the third conjunction. These triple conjunctions move slowly through the signs of the four elements and after approximately 970 years a new cycle begins. This cycle has, to my knowledge, not been investigated in modern times, and could lead to exciting new insights. 

About 1200 years ago astrologers discovered that Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions can be used to predict mundane events like natural catastrophes, wars or other remarkable changes in human history. The philosopher Plato was one of the early writers to mention a cyclical return of planetary patterns. He wrote in his Timaeus about the Great Year, a period of time after which the planets would return to their original positions.(1) He talked as well about the “dance of the stars” and their oppositions and conjunctions which would cause panic and fear of times to come.(2) But it was not until the 8th century that the astrologer Masha’allah specifically wrote about the great conjunction . Masha’allah was born c.740 AD in Basra. David Pingree says that:

“one strongly suspects that it [his astrology] is based on the peculiar doctrines of Harran, to which al-Kindi and Abu Ma’shar were also attracted. In fact, Masha’allah’s works are often echoed in Abu Mashar’s.” (3)

Today Harran is a ruin located in Turkey’s desert land close to the Syrian border. During the early middle ages it became home to a sect that did not have anything to do with the beliefs of Christianity or Islam. The teachings its inhabitants followed were drawn exclusively from Platonic and Hermetic traditions. Nowadays scholars believe that Harran became the refuge of the Neo-Platonist academy of Athens.

It is said that Masha’allah wrote at least twenty-eight books on astrology and in his On the Roots of Revolutions he writes about conjunctions.(4) He distinguishes between three main conjunctions: the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction which he calls the greater conjunction; the one between Mars and Saturn, called the middle conjunction; the one between Jupiter and Mars, the lesser conjunction. He states that if Jupiter is stronger than Saturn, it will signify good, but if Saturn rules, it will signify detriment. He then goes into more detail, writing that if the conjunction takes place in a fire or an air sign, dryness, sterility of the earth and severity of the cold will follow. If the conjunction takes place in an earth sign it stands for the destruction of seeds and famine. In watery signs it will indicate excessive rain and pestilence. If the conjunction is near an angle or even better near the MC it signifies the appearance of a king or prophet from the direction of that sign.

Another astrologer, al-Kindi, a native of Baghdad, was born c.801 AD and is generally known as the first Arab philosopher. He was mainly influenced by Plato and Aristotle but drew as well on Proclus, the Stoics and the Corpus Hermeticum.(5)

He was the teacher of Abu Ma’shar, who would become one of the most famous astrologers of his time. Abu Ma’shar was born in or near Balkh in Khurasan in 787. After a quarrel with al-Kindi, he realized that it would be necessary to study mathematics, that is, arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy and astrology, in order to understand philosophical arguments. From that point on he devoted his time to the study of the philosophical and historical justifications of astrology and drew upon sources like Dorotheus, Valens, Ptolemy and the books of the Harranians.(6) His work includes an astrological interpretation of history which was of Zoroastrian origin and had reached him through the works of Masha’allah, al-Tabari and al-Kindi.(7)

After Masha’allah and al-Kindi had successfully laid the foundations of this great idea, Abu Ma’shar was the first astrologer to fully develop and formulate the theory of a correlation between the great conjunctions and the occurrence of historic events. In contrast to Masha’allah, Abu Ma’shar distinguishes between three Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions, namely a great, a greater and a greatest one. A great conjunction occurs every 20 years in a sign of one elemental triplicity. These conjunctions can indicate the elevation of kings and the rise of prophets. After 240 years, when the conjunction takes place in another element for the first time, a greater conjunction occurs. This indicates reference to a sect and to its change in certain regions. After about 960 years the conjunctions have moved through all four elements and a new cycle begins. The first conjunction of the new cycle in Aries is called the greatest one. It has reference to changes in empires and kingdoms, floods and earthquakes.

We can see here that Abu Ma’shar states that the length of one great cycle would be 960 years. This is of course technically wrong, but until the middle ages astrologers used this figure as a basis for their calculations. From the 12th century onwards Abu Ma’shar’s teachings had a decisive influence on the West. His work The great introduction to the science of astrology was translated twice into Latin by John of Seville and by Hermann of Carinthia. De magnis conjunctionibus, translated by John of Seville in the 12th century, was published in 1489 in Augsburg and in 1515 in Venice. The English philosopher Roger Bacon took on Abu Ma’shar’s teachings concerning the conjunctions and published them more or less unchanged in his famous work Opus Majus in 1267 in Latin.

In the 15th and 16th centuries the teachings about the great conjunction had already become common knowledge amongst astrologers. The ‘conjunctionists’, as the people who followed this idea were commonly known, were engaged in heated debates with their opponents. The point of discussion expressed by astrologers through the concept of the great conjunction was a central one. The stars were causes and not signs and all events, even major ones like the birth of Christ, were determined by the stars.

This was of course a great problem for the followers of the humanist movement that was flourishing at the time. The humanists argued that if the astrologers’ theories were correct, any attempts by mankind to cause some change, or even have free will, would fail and were therefore unnecessary.     

Apart from these very philosophical questions, there was another, more mundane problem that concerned the conjunctionists in the years before 1583. Many European astrologers believed that with the last great conjunction in a Water sign, the great cycle had come to an end and terrible things were to follow.

In 1564 in Bohemia the astrologer Cyprian Leowitz published a title called De Conjunctionis magnis insignioribus superiorum planetarum, Solis defectionibus, & Cometis, in quarta Monarchia, cum eorundem effectum historica expositione.

Tycho de Brahe, who had already made allowances for the precession of the equinoxes and adjusted the length of the great cycle to 800 years, added to Leowitz’ recognition and so his work became well known to English readers. In De Conjunctionis Leowitz stresses that great changes are to be expected as the fiery trigon is imminent. New worlds would follow; violent changes were to be expected. 

Sheltco á Geveren wrote Of the ende of this world, and the second coming of Christ in 1577, quoting Leowitz’s work:

“… for this great conjunction is of all the last, which shall happen  in the ende of the waterie Trigon, and watry Trigon shall perish, and be turned into fire. … but because about the end of waterie Trigon this Monarchie shall begin, it is likely, that the same also in the end of the same Trigon shall have an end, sith the sonne of God himselfe Iesus Christ our Lorde even in the ende of waterie Trigon tooke upon him the nature of man.” (8)

Another astrologer, Richard Harvey, wrote in his Astrological Discourse upon the great and notable Conjunction published in early 1583, that

“… it is the last conjunction that ever shal happen in the end of waterie Trigone, … we are most likely to have a new world, by some sodaine, violent & wonderful strange alteration …” (9)

He was giving details of what was likely to happen, namely extraordinary winds, floods, cold weather, unusual troubles, envy, hatred, contention, strife, violent oppression, poverty and hunger, persecution of ecclesiastical persons, ruin to many great men, dearth, shipwrecks and burnings. It would all be crowned by the final dissolution of the world and the second coming of the son of man. (10)

When William Lilly wrote his England’s Propheticall Merline in 1644, he dealt retrospectively with the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of 1603, which was of course a greatest one, being located in Sagittarius, renewing the great cycle. He wrote:

“All men know that in this year1603. James the sixth, came to be King of England.: Could a more memorable thing bee in this world, then for a Scottish King to become Monarch of the English, … Was not this in effect a new Monarchy, yea, and a great one to be King of England, Scotland and Ireland?

… And had we not in 1603. a great plague in London, and during his raigne, many years of great scarcity?” (11)

 In Propheticall Merline Lilly writes extensively about the conjunctions. He explains the mathematics, the terminology and the history and creates a textbook for astrologers of future generations.

On January 1st, 1981 the conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn took place in Libra. This may be seen as a greater conjunction, leading us into a 200 year cycle of great conjunctions in Air signs.

I want to end this article with a quote from Lilly’s Propheticall Merline, where he writes about the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in the Air triplicity:

“If the first convention of Saturn and Jupiter be in Libra, Divines then living, handle matters with great profundity and learning, and their works remain famous to succeeding Ages: Divinity is now handled like Divinity, saving that sometimes they strain too high a point. Magick is earnestly sought after, which this foolish age condemns. … Under this Conjunction so beginning, great actions are done in the world. The Merchant thriving by Sea and by Land. If a Monarchy, an Heresie, or Order of Friers, or a Common-wealth begin now, it endures very long.” (12)

After a short return into an Earth sign in the year 2000, the next Jupiter-Saturn conjunction will take place in 00˚ 29’ Aquarius on the 21st of December 2020.



(1) Plato: Timaeus, 39-d. Some sources state that Plato mentioned that the length of one Great Year would be between 10,000 and 36,000 years and that, after the return of all the planets to their original position, a catastrophe would occur. Thomas Taylor denies both points. For a full discussion see: Taylor, Thomas: Proclus’ Commentary on the Timaeus of Plato, The Prometheus Trust, 1998, p.805ff, and Cornford, F. M.: Plato’s Cosmology, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1948, p.116f.

(2) Plato: Timaeus, 40-c. See as well comments in Taylor (p.855, 860) and Cornford (p.135f).

(3) Pingree, David: Masha’allah, in Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol. 9, Detroit 2008, p.159-162.

(4) Dykes, Benjamin (trans.): On the Roots of Revolutions in Works of Sahl and Masha’allah, Cazimi Press, Minnesota, 2008, p.306ff.

(5) Jolivet, J. and Rashed, R.: al-Kindi in Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol.15, Detroit 2008, p.261-267.

 (6) Pingree, David: Abu Ma’shar in Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol.1, Detroit 2008, p.33.

(7) ibid. p.34

(8) Geveren, Sheltco á: Of the ende of this world, London 1577, fol. 19.

(9) Harvey, Richard: An Astrological Discourse upon the great and notable Conjunction of the two superior Planets Saturne & Jupiter, which shall happen the 28. day of April, 1583, London 1583, p.38f

(10) ibid. p.8,16f 

(11) Lilly, William: England’s Propheticall Merline, London 1644, p.24

(12) ibid. p.62f

© 2008 Peter Stockinger


For the Glory of God – Of Renaissance Popes and their Astrologers

We begin our story with Guliano della Rovere. As Pope Julius II, he was head of the Roman Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 1503 to his death in 1513. He also was an ardent follower of astrology. His personal astrologer, Antonio Campanazzo, postponed Julius’ coronation to make sure that the event would fall on an auspicious date. During his time in office, Julius ordered the demolition of the sacred early Christian basilica, built over the tomb of St Peter. It was to be replaced with the new Saint Peter’s Basilica, which was to become a world famous landmark. Again, Julius’ astrologers were called in to elect the most auspicious moment for the laying of the foundation stone. The date the astrologers elected was 18 April 1506.

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The chart above, published by Luca Gaurico, who we will talk about in more detail later on, shows the moment the foundation stone was ritually put into position. In her paper The Foundation Horoscope(s) for St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, 1506, (1) Mary Quinlan-McGrath proposes that the astrologers in charge did not only elect the most auspicious moment, but that they also managed to harmonise the election chart with the Thema mundi, the birth chart of Christ, and the Pope’s own nativity. Another astrologer, Antonio Campanezzo, sent a prediction to Julius II, foretelling his long and successful reign. He also admitted that it had not been entirely legal to cast the Pope’s nativity. Little had he to fear because Julius was pleased to seek his advice, furthermore asking for an election for his coronation day, the foundation of a castle, and the erection of his own statue in Bologna.

We leave  Julius II and move on to his successor, Giovanni de Medici, who was Pope Leo X between 1513 and 1521. Here we meet Luca Gaurico, the man who provided the foundation chart, pictured above. Gaurico was an astrologer, astronomer, a data collector and a mathematician, who lived in Italy between 1475 and 1558. He served as court adviser to Catherine de Medici, as well as being astrologer to several popes.  Gaurico successfully predicted the accession to the papacy of Catherine’s great-uncle Giovanni de Medici when the latter was 14. He also predicted Catherine’s uncle Giulio de Medici’s involvement in political struggles. Giulio de Medici was to later become Pope Clement VII. We will meet Gaurico again later on, when he will become unofficial astrologer to the papacy under Pope Paul III. But back now to Pope Leo X, whose personal astrologer was a man called Franciscus Priulus. We do not know much about Priulus,  except that he wrote a book about his patron’s birth chart, and also that he had apparently been able to tell Leo many facts about his childhood, and secrets which only the Pope himself knew. Leo claimed that his astrologer was able to make predictions that were accurate to the very hour. He was very much taken with Priulus’ abilities and remarked that astrology, which had once been extinct, had been ‘revived through this extraordinary man’. After Priulus’ death, Leo employed the astrologers Pellegrino Prisciano of Ferrara, Thomas Philologus, Castaneolus, Nifo, and Bernard Portinarius. It was commonly known that Pope Leo X was literally addicted to astrology, which meant that authors and writers saw no problem in addressing him with astrological jargon. ‘Under your auspices, o Leo, the malign influences of the stars have vanished, and Jupiter has not poured upon us any but the propitious fires of his purest rays’, wrote Girolamo Fracastoro in his medical poem Syphilis. With all that praise being heaped upon him, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Leo eventually founded a chair of astrology at the University of Rome, the Sapienza.

We now move on to Pope Adrian VI, who showed little excitement when elected Pope because astrological studies he had conducted in his youth had already promised that he would become Pope. He was succeeded by Pope Clement VII, who, as well as his predecessor, did not object to having astrological almanacs dedicated to them. 

Next, and of great interest to our humble investigation, is Pope Paul III , born Alessandro Farnese, who was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 13 October 1534 to his death in 1549. He was so much in favour of astrology that he encouraged astrologers to come to Rome where they could work under his protection. The by now quite familiar astrologer Luca Gaurico predicted twice, in 1529 and 1532, that Farnese would become Pope. When he became Paul III, he knighted Gaurico and made him Bishop of Giffoni. The astrologer also correctly predicted the Pope’s death to the day as well as the illness he would die of. Paul III asked Gaurico to determine the most auspicious time at which the cornerstone of a new building in the neighbourhood of St Peter’s Basilica should be laid. Legend has it that Gaurico arrived at the scene in great pomp. An assistant, the astrologer Vincentius Campanatius of Bologna, was brought in as Gaurico’s splendidly robed assistant. He had to inspect the sky with his astrolabe, crying out in a loud voice when the moment had arrived for a cardinal to lay the foundational marble slab. Paul III was widely known to be in favour of astrologers. Works of astrological nature were dedicated to him, and he was praised by Vincentius Franciscucius for ‘restoring the reputation of astrology which had lain for so long in the darkness and barbarism of past centuries’. Later on, Paul was assured by the astrologer Marius Alterius that in his 83rd year he would have great success with women, delivering erotic diversions ‘… which will overwhelm your spirit with singular pleasure’ and that he would live to the ripe old age of 93. The only problem was that Paul III died when he was 81. 

Thorndike states in his monumental work A History of Magic and Experimental Science (2), that Paul III and Pius IV or even Gregory XIII, who was the immediate predecessor of Sixtus V, had a favourable attitude towards astrology. A figure of the nativity of Gregory XIII by Alfonso Ceccarelli can be found in MS Vatic. lat. 6253, fol. 26. (vol.VI, p156).

The next Pope of interest to us is Marcellus II, born Marcello Cervini degli Spannochi. When Marcellus’ father saw his son’s birth chart, he predicted that Marcellus would be installed in the papal chair, but in a way the he would and wouldn’t be Pope at the same time. This turned out to be true because Marcellus died within 22 days of being elected.

His successor, Pope Paul IV, born Gian Pietro Carafa, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 23 May 1555 to his death in 1559. It is believed that he received unsolicited astrological predictions concerning his death. Frightened by these, he ordered the expulsion of all astrologers from the Papal States in 1556. Paul IV was the Pope who wrote the infamous bull Cum Nimis Absurdum, which ordered the creation of a Jewish ghetto in Rome. He also introduced the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, also known as the ‘Index of Prohibited Books’ to Venice. Under his authority, some books about divinatory astrology, as well as books written by Protestants were banned, together with Italian and German translations of the Latin Bible.  

The next Pope we have to talk about is Pius V, born Antonio Ghislieri (from 1518 called Michele Ghislieri, O.P.). He was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 8 January 1566 to his death in 1572. Pius V is also venerated as a saint of the Catholic Church. We think that he must have been interested in astrology, because he owned an astronomical desk clock, built by Giovanni Maria Barocci in circa 1570. One of the clock’s dials shows astrological aspects.

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What is of particular interest to us is the fact that he is highly notable for his role in the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent, which defined Catholic doctrine, established that books  dealing with natural, as well as judicial astrology were not censored or banned. Only astrological works asserting that their predictions were certain, were condemned.  This was summed up in ‘Rule IX’ of the Ten Rules on the Prohibition of Books. We will come back to this a little bit later. Pius V also declared Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church. It is said that Aquinas’ influence on the Church was so strong, that during all sessions of the Council of Trent his Summa Theologica was placed alongside the Bible on the main altar. Aquinas’ views on astrology, as found in Summa Theologica, are as follows:

“The majority of men follow their passions, which are movements of the sensitive appetite, in which movements of the heavenly bodies can cooperate: but few are wise enough to resist these passions. Consequently astrologers are able to foretell the truth in the majority of cases, especially in a general way. But not in particular cases; for nothing prevents man resisting his passions by his free-will. Wherefore the astrologers themselves are wont to say that ‘the wise man is stronger than the stars’ [Ptolemy, Centiloquium, prop. 5], forasmuch as, to wit, he conquers his passions.” (Prima Pars: 115:  Reply to Objection 3)


The next Pope we are interested in is  Sixtus V, born Felice Piergentile. He was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 24 April 1585 to his death in 1590. On 5 January 1586, Pope Sixtus V issued Coeli et terrae, a papal decree wherein he condemned all forms of judicial astrology. He wrote:

“… They [the astrologers] take the moment a child was conceived, or its birthday, or some other ridiculous observation and note of times and circumstances and, from this, rashly presume to foretell, judge and pronounce upon each person’s rank and situation, how his life will proceed … other fortunate and unfortunate events which may come his way … Therefore, WE condemn and reject all types of divination … by this decree, which will be forever valid, and by Our Apostolic authority, We decree and declare against astrologers … and any others who practice the art of what is called judicial astrology (with the exception of those who make predictions in relation to agriculture, navigation and medicine); also against those who dare to cast and interpret people’s birth- horoscopes with a view of foretelling future events – be these contingent, successive or fortuitous – or actions dependent on human will, even if the astrologer maintains or testifies that he is not saying anything for certain …”

It seemed that suddenly, in theory and, at least for the time being, the practice of natal-, mundane-, horary-, and electional astrology was forbidden. It turned out though, that the papal bull did not in any way curtail the practice of the art. In 1588, for example, Gallucicus (Giovanni Paolo Gallucci) dedicated his Theater of the Universe, in six books, a work on astrology, to Sixtus V. It was reprinted twice in Italy over the next 20 years and three times in the Spanish translation. The 1590es witnessed an unbroken popularity of natural and judicial astrology, particularly amongst the clergy. Corinne Mandel writes in her paper “Starry Leo”, the Sun and the Astrological Foundations of Sixtine Rome that there is evidence that ‘Sixtus V actually created the mythology of his life and pontificate on the basis of his natal chart’ (p17). (3)

In August 1590, Sixtus V died either of malaria or he was poisoned. He was superseded by three short-lived Popes,  Urban VII, who was the shortest lived Pope in history with only 12 days in office, Gregory XIV, and Innocent IX. Stability returned in 1592 with the election of Pope Clement VIII, born Ippolito Aldobrandini. He was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 2 February 1592 to his death in 1605. Although the bull of Pope Sixtus V was officially accepted, it was ignored when it came to its application in regards to book censorship. The Index of 1590 agreed with the bull’s distinction between judicial and natural astrology, but still kept the wording of 1559 and 1564. In fact it was prohibiting ‘necessitating’ predictions, but didn’t prohibit ‘inclining’ ones. The Index of 1593 (already under Clement VIII) only added ‘interpretative provisions’, and the Index of 1596 reiterated the rules from 1564 word for word. In other words, Coeli et terrae, the bull of 1586, did not affect the practice of censorship at all! Repeatedly pressed by bishops of the Congregation of the Inquisition in 1592 to make a clear statement, the Pope decided that, without modification to the bull, ‘It was decreed … that books of Astrology were to be suppressed according to rule IX: and accounts should be taken of Sixtus V’s bull’. To understand this better, we have to take a quick look at Rule IX of the Ten Rules on the Prohibition of Books promulgated under the signature of Pope Pius V, at the Council of Trent, which I mentioned above. Rule IX states

“The bishops shall diligently see to it that books, treatises, catalogues determining destiny by astrologers, which in the matter of future events, consequences, or fortuitous occurrences, or of actions that depend on the human will, attempt to affirm something as certain to take place, are not read or possessed. Permitted, on the other hand, are the opinions and natural observations which have been written in the interest of navigation, agriculture or the medical art.”

Basically, anything not reaching the level of divination (i.e. predictions born of necessity and therefore certain to happen) could be published. Therefore, judicial astrology avoiding prediction with certainty, was allowed under Rule IX. 

But back now to Clement VIII and his problems with the bull. Although he had stated that Rule IX was to be observed, some uncertainty remained. In 1597 the cardinals of the Index submitted the issue to the Pope again ‘because of the problems arising almost every day’. Strictly observed, for example, the complete prohibition of judicial astrology would have put Arabic and Greek classics on the index. This was something that hadn’t been covered under Rule IX before. For these and other practical reasons, the members of the Congregation of the Index wanted to get some form of reassurance concerning the non-observance of Coeli et terrae. Therefore they put the question before the Pope ‘whether the constitution relative to judicial astrology was still in force’. The answer they received was a resounding ‘no’. Reason for this was that Pope Clement was opposed to the bull and it had not been accepted as valid by the Congregation of the Decretals. Also, the rules of the Congregation of the Index contradicted it.

Now we take a 36 year leap forward to Pope Urban VIII, who was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 6 August 1623 to his death in 1644. He was the Pope responsible for summoning Galileo to Rome in 1633 to recant his work. It was known that Urban was opposed to Copernican heliocentrism and for this reason, he ordered Galileo’s second trial. The astronomer had just published his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. What probably did not help was the fact that in the dialogue the character named “Simplicio” presents similar arguments to those of Pope Urban VIII. Two years earlier, in 1631, Urban issued his bull Inscrutabilis iudiciorum Dei altitudo, seemingly reaffirming the bull of Sixtus V, pointing out that nobody was immune from its prohibitions. It  went as far as to include threats of death and confiscation. Thorndike  infers from this that ‘ … the decree against astrologers had not been well enforced in the interim’, and ‘ … the fact that Urban VIII in particular forbids predictions concerning political and ecclesiastical matters, especially the life of the Pope … makes one suspect that it was the boldness of the astrologers in forecasting such matters which elicited the bull, and that it was such predictions which would actually be most likely to be punished.’ (vol.6, p171). We now know that Urban was an ardent student of astrology. His personal astrologer had established that he, Maffeo Barberini, was born to be the leader of the church. After all he was elected during a Sun – Jupiter conjunction in Leo, with Virgo rising, and so the sun became the emblem of his papacy. 

Urban VIII bi wheel

Astrology became an obsession to Urban, and is said that he demanded natal charts of all his Cardinals to determine how long their lifespan would be. Once in possession of the charts, he then proceeded to openly predict the dates of their deaths. But all this was about to change when from 1626 astrologers began to predict his own imminent death. In 1629, the influential astrologer Father Orazio Morandi, abbot of the monastery Santa Prasaede in Rome, predicted Urban’s death to occur the following year. Brendan Dooley has published a book, Morandi’s Last Prophecy and the End of Renaissance Politics (4), that tells the story. After Morandi had astrologically established the time of Urban’s death, he sought confirmation from other astrologers. Rumours began to spread, and cardinals began to arrive, preparing for a papal conclave to elect the next pope. When Urban received the news, he was outraged and Morandi was arrested immediately. Soon after his imprisonment, he died under suspicious circumstances. The Warburg Institute scholar D. P. Walker writes in his Spiritual and Demonic Magic (5) that these rumours were welcomed and encouraged by the Spanish. Annoyed by the Pope’s pro-French policy, they hoped to frighten Urban to death. According to Walker, the content of Inscrutabilis iudiciorum shows how scared and worried Urban VIII must have been. Although confirming Coeli et terrae in general terms, the only practices the new bull specifically condemned were predictions of the deaths of princes and especially of Popes. But Urban did not only issue his bull to protect himself. He also enlisted the help of the Dominican friar, philosopher, theologian, astrologer, and poet Tommaso Campanella. As early as 1628, during the January lunar eclipse and the solar eclipse in December, and again in 1630, Campanella and the Pope were reportedly engaged in nocturnal magical rites. Walker writes that they:

‘… sealed the room against the outside air, sprinkled it with rose-vinegar, … and burnt laurel, myrtle, rosemary and cypress. They hung the room with white silken cloths … two candles and five torches were lit, representing the seven planets. … There was Jovial and Venereal music, which was to disperse the pernicious qualities of the eclipse-infected air. … They used stones, plants, colours and odours, belonging to good planets. They drank astrologically distilled liquors ’. (p207)

Considering that the Pope lived on until 1644, we cannot fault the abilities of Campanella, who wrote the ritual especially for this purpose and occasion.

  1. Quinlan-McGrath, Mary: The Foundation Horoscope(s) for St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, 1506: Choosing a Time, Changing the Storia, ISIS, vol.92, nr.4, December 2001.
  2. Thorndike, Lynn: A History Of Magic And Experimental Science: During The First Thirteen Centuries Of Our Era, 8 vols., Colombia University Press (1958)
  3. Mandel, Corrine: “Starry Leo”, the Sun and the Astrological Foundations of Sixtine Rome, RACAR: revue d’art canadienne / Canadian Art Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, 1990
  4. Dooley, Brendan: Morandi’s Last Prophecy and the End of Renaissance Politics, Princeton University Press, Princeton 2002
  5. Walker, D. P. : Spiritual and Demonic Magic, Studies of the Warburg Institute, vol.22, The Warburg Institute, University of London, 1958