Sabian Symbols in Astrology Book


sabian_symbolsMarc Edmund Jones (b.1888 Missouri – 1980) was a Presbyterian clergyman, a philosopher and an astrologer. Interested by the astrological symbolism he searched for a set of symbols able to accurately describe the meaning of each degree. For a while he used the symbols obtained from Charubel (John Thomas), but he was not satisfied with them because were “too grooved in a single mood […] good or bad”.

The Story

The story of the Sabian Symbols as we know them began in 1923 when he met Elise Wheeler. She was a psychic suffering from arthritis and confined to a wheelchair. Despite her health problems she wanted to do something significant and, fortunately, Marc E. Jones knew exactly how it would be:



“I had to find a place where the conditions would be proper for Elsie Wheeler, through whose consciousness the laya center in each of the three hundred and sixty cases could get in a picture or situation with meaning in modern and common everyday life,


for that one of the Brothers who had the age-old and particular saturation in the true Memphite (earlier Egyptian) schematism from which the zodiac was derived originally, and myself, supplying the especially refined cabalistic training needed for the critical interpretation or rationalization of the relationships at the threshold of a new or atomic age, and so I located a section of Balboa Park, in San Diego, California, where a park lane with little traffic was within feet through a fringe of trees of one of the city’s busiest intersections. The whole task had to be completed without any breaking in of any other living entity or the intrusion of any sort of life situation, but here we could sit in a parked car attracting no attention, and yet we were meeting the requirement of natural law itself that this highest of spiritual tasks be framed in a milieu of the most complete possible intensity or turmoil of normal human living or business and personal affairs in the broadest possible intermeshing or superficial conflict.”


So, in one day of the year 1925, Marc went with Elise in the Balboa Park and, in multiple sessions during that day, she found the images for all the 360 degrees of the zodiac. The result is what we know nowadays as the Sabian Symbols.

The Sabian Symbols presented below are the original ones, presented in the book, but the most keywords are my interpretation. The keywords may represent the symbol in a positive or negative way, as the person may live the good or bad part of the same image.

To see the Sabian Symbols go here:


Apart from the Sabian Symbols presented, the book has another thirteen chapters which mainly present the basic concepts in astrology and spirituality in the author’s view, which I don’t consider to be relevant to astrology, so I won’t present those chapters in this review.




Conclusion. There is a debate between astrologers about the Sabian Symbols, some sustain that are not working, some believe that are the result of a great state of spiritual inspiration and are perfect. It is difficult to appreciate who’s right. I think that, theoretically, every degree of the zodiac, which represent a specific kind of energy, can be represented by an image. The image can describe the type of energy represented by the degree with a certain kind of accuracy. We can have images which represent the degree very well, and images which are not very well suited to the symbolism of the degree. In my personal experience with the Sabian Symbols I found certain degrees to work very well and other degrees to be less representative. Probably every astrologer will judge the Sabian Symbols after working with them. Anyway, if the Sabian Symbols have acquired such a great recognition there must be more that a bunch of images invented by a psychic. There is no smoke without fire, no? My evaluation is 7,2.


The Book of World Horoscopes


world_horoscopes.jpgNicholas Campion, born 4 march 1953 in Bristol, England, is a historian and astrologer who acquired great popularity especially by his studies on mundane astrology. His most appreciated work is "The Book of World Horoscopes" for which he won the 1992 Marc Edmund Jones Award. He also wrote another excellent book "Mundane Astrology" with Charles Harvey and Michael Baigent. The Book of World Horoscopes was first published in 1988, then, revised and reprinted many times. The current edition is from 2004.


Introduction. The national horoscope: astronomy, politics and ritual

In this part the author presents his vision about mundane astrology from which I would like to mark 5 interesting quotes:


1. A short history of the evolution of mundane astrology, pointing out the moment when national charts became the most important instrument:


"Prior to 1939 most mundane prediction proceeded via the simple use of ingress and lunation charts cast for the capital cities of the countries under consideration. […] Mundane astrology met its crisis in 1939 when its leading exponents failed to predict the outbreak of the second world war. Charles Carter was insistent that there would be no war, and in 1936 was quoted to this effect in the London Times. […] Any opinion expressed by him achieved widespread currency and it is likely that he profoundly influenced other astrologers in their erroneous and deeply embarrassing reading of Hitler’s nativity. […] Carter’s own response to his failure was to argue that the national map, or horoscope, should henceforth be dominant in all mundane work. Lunation and ingress map, he decreed, were almost useless unless they showed prominent angular planets."


2. The relation between mundane astrology and the collective mind as is seen from Plato to Jung:


"The concept of a group soul or psyche is well accepted within Platonic tradition, but was given its most recent form by Jung. Essentially Jung argued that any group of people, from married couple through family to nation and the entire human race, has a collective mind which is deeper, and potentially more powerful than, the individual mind. […] Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious, with its archetypes, is essentially a restatement of the Platonic belief that the superior, intangible, Ideal world of Being containing the Ideal Forms (or archetypes), manifests through the material world of Becoming (which we inhabit). The world of Becoming may be seen as a shadow of the world of Being, in which physical reality is shaped by ideas. […] These beliefs are known as Idealist because they elevate consciousness -the realm of ideas- to a position of greater importance than matter."


3. The problem of choosing the right horoscope, the significant moment and the difference between natural and judicial (divinatory) astrology:


"What do horoscopes signify? The question we pose of various national horoscopes should therefore be not "is this the correct horoscope?" but "what is the significance of this horoscope?". What does it signify? The notion of the true and false horoscope is as rigid a straightjacket as the idea that countries have birth charts. If divinatory astrology is a language, dealing with signs, it follows that significance should be the primary means of judging whether a particular horoscope is relevant or not. Firstly, the historical event for which the horoscope is cast should be significant. Secondly the planetary picture within the horoscope should itself be significant. And both historical and astrological significance can only be judged by the mundane astrologers. That is, there is no horoscopic mundane astrology independent of the astrologer’s ability to select, discriminate and judge."


4. How to choose the right time in mundane astrology:


"Around the time that Mundane Astrology was in preparation, I agreed with Michael Baigent’s hypothesis that the "beginning of the period of taking the power" is the critical moment for which a national horoscope should be set, a principle which it seemed, could be applied with apparent simplicity to events such as coups d’etat or revolutions. However, on closer study it became clear that in different circumstances, the middle or the final culmination of the coup could be as critical. The hypothesis shifted in favour of the critical moment being that at which the balance of power passes irrevocably from the old order to the new."


5. The importance of clear, precise sources:


"This book is more that a collection of horoscopes. It is part of an attempt to bring a reconciliation between astrological and historical studies based on equal respect for the practices and assumptions and world view of both. It is part of an investigation into an arcane and neglected item in the historian’s armoury."


National Horoscopes

Here, on 365 pages, are presented 403 national horoscopes, everyone having a brief historical report. Many countries have two or more national horoscopes, corresponding to the important moments of their histo
ry. As the author said, there is no such "birth chart" for a country, but a succession of important/transforming moments.



There is also an important section at the final part of the book, filled with 12 appendixes, where are presented charts for political parties, towns and cities, stock markets, European Union, Euro, conflicts, wars, Medieval Europe, Yalta Conference, Berlin Wall, Hiroshima bombardment, first powered flight, religions eras, discovery of Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Chiron etc.




Conclusion. It is, obviously, the most comprehensive and trustworthy work to date about national horoscopes. The author presents the horoscopes for several important moments in every country history and even 2-3 horoscopes for the same event, when the precise moment is not sure. He emphasize the aspect of data accuracy and gives detailed references for the horoscopes presented. The book is very well documented, but as he recognised there must be done further research for the countries from Eastern Europe and Latin America. My evaluation is 8,5.

The Houses Temples of the Sky


houses_temples.jpgDeborah Houlding is a contemporary English astrologer specialized on traditional astrology. She published her only book, The Houses Temples of the Sky, in 1998 and revised it in 2006. If you want to find more about her you can visit her impressive website Skyscript


In the Introduction the author writes about two theories about houses, used in modern astrology: one which equates signs with houses (Aries with the 1st house, Taurus with the 2nd house etc.), the other which presents houses like a psychological wheel. She sustains that those two conceptions are wrong and departs astrologers from the fundamental traditional meaning of houses. In the present book she wants to restore the traditional meaning of houses and the principles behind the houses symbolism, being convinced that:


"Herein lies the key to successful astrology: a confident and unambiguous application of its symbolism."


In Chapter 1 – Introducing Houses: An Historical Overview the author explains when and where took place the first astrological observations (more details here). About the houses, this book’s subject, their first presence in an astrological chart is dated from the year 22 BC in Manilius Astronomica.


In Chapter 2 – The Angles: Significance of Egyptian Solar Philosophy the author presents the angles in relation with an Egyptian theory which sees the Sun in his daily cycle like a man in his life, marked by events like birth (represented by the Ascendant), maturity (MC), death (Descendant) and Underworld (IC). With this background image, Deborah Houlding depicts the characteristics for each angle: the Imum Caelum (IC) and 4th house shows our origin, family, home, ancestors, roots; the Ascendant and 1st house represents our life, appearance, basic character, health, will, vitality; the Midheaven and 10th house shows our social status, reputation, how we manifest in the public world; the Descendant and 7th house shows our opponents, partners, last years of life. The interpretations made to the four angles have some differences from the general modern view, for example: the Ascendant represents also the basic character and the Descendat, being the place where the Sun "dies", has a much more bad reputation than nowadays, in modern astrology, symbolizing the final years of life, death, enemies. About the 4th house, I saw that signifies sometimes the father, sometimes the mother, generally the parents, but I agree more with the explanation given by Robert Hand who associates the 4th house with the "mothering process" in his book Essays on Astrology

An interesting aspect is that after every house presentation there is a little box named The house association through history where are presented different views of the house from 6 sources: Manilius, Others (classical), Firmicus, Al-Biruni, Lilly and Modern.


Chapter 3 – Aspects & Gates: The 2nd/8th House Axis starts with the author attempt to convince astrologers to stop trying to demonstrate that all the houses are good and to accept that are good, favorable houses and bad, weak houses (traditional astrology principle). For example:


"The 8th house remains the house of death, loss and grief, no matter how pleasantly we wrap that up in digestible phrases such as personal – transformation."


Generally, the bad houses (2, 6, 8, 12) are those which don’t make a major aspect with the Ascendant, which don’t see his light. She analyzes the second/eight house axis showing that the 8th house has no relation with sex or pregnancy, which belongs to the 5th house, and the 2nd house is not so favorable how is seen today because she has no aspect with the Ascendant. 


In Chapter 4 – Planetary Joys: The 5th/11th House Axis the author writes about the planetary sect (find out more here), a very important subject in traditional astrology, and presents the planetary "joys". A planetary "joy" is the house where a planet rejoice, equivalent of the zodiac domicile for houses. The planetary joys are: Mercury in the 1st house, Moon in the 3rd house, Venus in the 5th house, Mars in the 6th house, Sun in the 9th house, Jupiter in the 11th house and Saturn in the 12th house. Then, Deborah Houlding presents the 5th and 11th houses in strong connection with the planets Venus and Jupiter, planets which rejoice there: the 5th house is the area of love, children, pleasure, games, pregnancy and the 11th house represents friends, hope, happiness, benefactors.  


In Chapter 5 – The King and Queen: The 3rd/9th House Axis the author uses the same method like in previous chapter, deriving the explanations for the houses from the planets which rejoice there. She demonstrates how the characteristics of the 3rd house (messages, short journeys, letters, travelers) can be likened more easily with the Moon than with Mercury and the associates the couple 9th house and the Sun with religion, faith, revelation, long journeys, philosophy.


Chapter 6 – Cadency & Decline: The 6th/12th House Axis presents two of the most difficult houses, 6th and 12th. The author finds 3 reasons for the bad lore associated with those houses: they are cadent, don’t aspect the Ascendant and are rules by t
he malefic planets Mars (6th house) and Saturn (12th house). Then, she presents the general characteristics for the houses, not very different from what is accepted nowadays: the 6th house governs disease, health problems, hard work, poorly rewarded work, small beasts, pets while the 12th house governs imprisonment, disgrace, infirmity, hidden activity or secret enemies. 


Planets in Transit: Life Cycles for Living


planets_in_transit.JPGRobert Hand, the author of some well-known books like Horoscope Symbols, here, Planets in Composite, Planets in Youth, Whole Sign Houses or Night&Day: Planetary Sect in Astrology, published Planets in Transit: Life Cycles for Living for the first time in 1976.


In 2001 he published a revised and expanded second edition which covers a period of 25 years of astrological practice and makes us happy. Happy because it is a joy to read a book where a vast practical experience, a profound understanding of astrology and an impressive capacity to express ideas and thoughts clear and bright are harmoniously blending producing a classic book of astrology and, in the same time, a standard for the upcoming astrologers. 


It is a book divided in two parts: the first one filled with theory has only 44 pages (3 chapters), the second one covering the interpretations of transits has 482 pages.


In the 1st chapter Interpreting Transits the author presents a list with the difficult and easy transits and explains the significance of aspects by numerology, assigning for each aspect a number (ex. square = 4 because 90 = 360/4).


In the 2nd chapter Timing Transits Robert Hand gives 6 rules to help us find more precise the time when the events generated by transits happen. I think Rule 3 is quite interesting:


"When a number a transits describe an event, the time of the event will be closest to the time when the average orb of all the transiting planets approaches to zero."


Also note that the effect of an outer-planet transit will be timed by an inner planet (Rule 1) and transits on midpoints are very important (Rule 4). Hand is an astrologer who uses midpoints extensively and is happy with the results.


After those valuable advices the author proposes another innovative aspect: the precession correction of the natal planets. The idea is that we should treat natal planets like fixed stars and make the proper correction due to the precession of the equinox. Even is not more than 1 degree for a planet in 70 years, this can help in timing transits. But the most important difference will be on Solar Returns where the position of planets in houses and even the Moon position will change dramatically. The question is: if we use the Tropical zodiac why to see natal planets like fixed stars? I mean that in the natal chart I place natal planets not on the sidereal signs based on the morphomaton (the constellations formed by fixed stars which can be seen on the sky), but on the tropical zodiac, in relation with the vernal point. Why not to keep the relation (longitude) with the vernal point if I used it at first? My opinion is that the correction of the natal planets due the precession is not sustained by good arguments. The tropical zodiac means the relation with the vernal point and we can’t change that relation for the planets of our solar system when the time passes.


In chapter 3 Case Study: Nixon and Watergate the author uses transits to analyze the events happened in 1972-1973.


In chapter 4-13 you can find the interpretations for the planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) transit through houses and in aspects with the other planets, the Midheaven and the Ascendant.

The aspects made by planets in transit are analyzed in a dual manner, taking in account what planet is in transit, for example Mercury transit square Venus natal has some interpretations and Venus transit square Mercury natal has different interpretations. It is a very good approach which we don’t find in every book on transits.



Conclusion. It is probably the best book on transits ever written. It is comprehensive, clear and… real! The explanations for every aspect are fitting with the reality and the author practical experience gives results. Also, you can notice the psychological approach because every transit delineation contains the feelings you may experience and your possibilities to act. It is not a fatalistic approach, he supposes you have free-will and tries to guide you in making the best choice and being aware of what is happening. My evaluation is 9,6

The Progressed Horoscope


the_progressed_horoscope.jpgAlan Leo, born in London in 1860, was a man who had different unsuccessful jobs (draper, grocer, salesman etc.) in his early life and was a member in an occult society. Only from 1890, at his thirties, he really became involved in astrology, writing the Astrologer’s Magazine and selling horoscopes with great success. Among astrologers he was remarked like a deep thinker and not one who read many astrological books. He published The Progressed Horoscope for the first time in 1905.


In the Preface the author affirms that after many years of astrological study, based on experience:


“I abandoned all adherence to the various systems and methods of directing advocated by the different schools […]. I gradually found myself adopting a system in which the progressed horoscope (note: secondary progressions) formed the centre”


This testimony comes from an astrologer with great success to public, mainly obtained by doing predictions for the readers of Astrologer’s Magazine. Taking in account that he chose secondary progressions as the best system I think we can put it in the top of the most efficient predictive techniques.


Part I. The Progressed Horoscope

In the first chapters the author writes about the relation between fate and free will, a subject which will be always be present between astrologers.He believes that heredity, environment and character are the three great factors in human destiny, but the character is most important and becomes destiny. He is not a fatalistic astrologer, but one who believes in free will and gives advices for how to avoid mistakes when the progressed horoscope don’t give results because people use their free will.

Then the author writes about the primary and secondary progressions and explains how to calculate them. Of course, nowadays this part becomes useless because we have software to do that.


Part 2. The Effects of Directions

This part is composed from five chapters where are presented the interpretations for the mutual aspects between Sun, Moon and the planets, the progressed Moon through houses, the progressed Ascendant through signs and the progressions to Midheaven and Ascendant. The author analyzes not only the major aspects but also the semisextile, semisquare, sesquisquare, quincunx. It is a comprehensive material, almost 160 pages of clear interpretations based on his experience.


Part III. Solar Revolutions and Transits

Alan Leo writes about two kinds of Solar Revolutions: to the natal Sun and to the progressed Sun. There are only technical instructions for a more precise calculation of the Solar Revolution.

Then he presents the interpretations for the transits of the planets through houses and for the aspects between planets. There are the normal delineations for every case, nothing very different from what you can find on other books.


Part IV. Primary Directions

This is also a part where the author presents different methods to calculate the primary directions, mundane parallels, rapt parallels, zodiacal directions etc.




Conclusion.  Alan Leo writes books like a Leo. Is this a surprise? Straight, clear, without useless philosophy. The book has some main characteristics: the most efficient predictive technique is considered secondary progressions, the influence of the transits over the natal chart is considered very small, the correlation (always present) between the aspects made by progressed planets and the natal ones is decisive. No progression will be powerful if the natal chart don’t sustain the aspect.


The book has, also, a big minus: it has only 2 practical examples! From a person with such a big experience I would expect much more! T
he author mention about another book, Modern Astrology, where he put more examples.


In the final I think this book should be read, it has good principles, good thinking, detailed interpretations. My evaluation is 8,1.  


The Abbreviation of the Introduction to Astrology


The Abbreviation of the Introduction to AstrologyThis booklet is a translation made by Charles Burnett in 1994 to an Arabic astrology text written by Abu Ma’shar around 850 C.E. It has historical and technical annotations which cover nearly half of the book, but who will really help you to comprehend an old text which is often unclear, briefly wrote and hard to understand like almost every astrology book from that period or before. Very interesting, the annotations show the Greek influences on this book by indicating the possible sources (astrology books from the Hellenistic period) of different statements.  


In the Introduction you can find out that Abu Ma’shar (787 – 886 C.E.) was a leading astrologer of the Islamic world, born in Balkh (a city on the territory of Afghanistan). His main book about astrology is "Great Introduction to Astrology" (850 C.E.), "The Abbreviation of the Introduction to Astrology" being only a short compendium to the first one. Other interesting historical data can be found there.


In Chapter 1 are presented the astrological signs and their characteristics. The author indicates the planets with dignities (ruler, exaltation, decan) in each sign, the nature of signs, the humor and the taste for each sign and other features like: short or long ascension, cut in its limbs, upright, defective in figure (about sky constellations), colors, libidinous, fecundity and sterility, voice, corresponding parts of the body, regions and countries governs by signs. In the final part are presented the quadrants, triplicities and planetary joys. 


In Chapter 2 you can read about the conditions of the planets in themselves, the size of their bodies and their conditions from the Sun. The practical results of those "conditions" are not presented, the explanations are very short, so this chapter won’t help too much. Probably, in the "big book" "Great Introduction to Astrology" is the detailed version of this chapter.


In Chapter 3 are described the 25 conditions of the planets: domain (Hayyiz), advance, retreat, conjunction, aspect, application, separation, void of course, wild, translation, collection, reflecting the light, prohibition, pushing nature, pushing power, pushing two natures, pushing counsel, returning, refranation, resistance, evasion, cutting the light, favor, recompense and reception. These planetary conditions appear in many old astrological texts, sometimes more or less than 25, sometimes under different names. For example, "pushing power" is "conferring of influence" and "advance" is directness" in "The beginning of Wisdom" of Avraham Ibn-Ezra.  


Chapter 4 contains several words about the good fortune of the planets, their power, their weakness, the corruption of the Moon and dodecatemoria.


In Chapter 5 are presented the planets, their nature and characteristics. Maybe some statements will seem strange for those who are not used with the traditional astrology. For example, did you know that the Moon governs fugitives, messengers or Mercury governs divinity, revelation to prophets and astrology?


In Chapter 6 you can find out how to compute a number of 53 astrological lots, but the interpretations are missing. Anyway, until now, I am not convinced that these lots really work.


In Chapter 7, the last chapter of the book, the author writes about the years of the planets (Firdaria), the Egyptian terms, the dark, bright and shadow degrees, the masculine and feminine degrees, pits and protuberances. Dark degrees are bad, bright are good, masculine degrees are good in a masculine theme, feminine degrees are good in a feminine theme, pits stop the good or bad influence of the planets, protuberances bring happiness – these are some old and strange astrological techniques, not in use anymore, cloaked in mystery.      




Conclusion. It is a booklet that presents briefly many techniques that belong to traditional astrology. It is more like an index of these astrological notions. I don’t think it has a great value because, when you read something like this, you need interpretations, explanations. The author did that in his book "The Greater Introduction", so we don’t have to blame him. In conclusion, I don’t recommend the book. My evaluation is 7.   


Predictive Astrology: The Eagle and the Lark


predictive astrologyBernadette Brady is an Australian astrologer who lives in Bristol, UK. She wrote Star and Planet Combinations (2008), Astrology – a Place of Chaos (2006), Predictive Astrology (1999), Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars (1998) and received  the Charles Harvey Award (2006).


Predictive Astrology – The Eagle and the Lark (1999), probably her most appreciated book, is a revised and updated version of the textbook The Eagle and the Lark (1992). She was distinguished with the Spica Astrology Award for the best astrological book in 1999.


Instead of preface we have the story of the Eagle and the Lark. Through this fable, Bernadette warns us that only with intuition (the lark) we can’t reach a high level in astrology, we also need the eagle (science, logic, techniques) which this book represents. Another idea emphasized by  the author, essential in predictive astrology, is the relation between fate and free will. For example, if you want to predict an event for a person and believe in free will, then you realize that you might be wrong! Because she can choose how to act, therefore is not perfectly predictable.  So, this is a very sensitive point in astrology.


Chapter 1. The Alphabet     

Here are presented specific keywords and characteristics (adjusted for predictive work) for the planets, planetary pairs, angles, planetary cycles, aspects, houses and transits. Is not much, but I think there are some useful guidelines for understanding the main idea. Especially, I like the explanations for aspects (conjunction, opposition, square, semi-square, sesquiquadrate, trine, sextile, semi-sextile, quincunx).


Chapter 2. Working with Transits

In the first part of the chapter, the author presents an original method which should be useful for interpreting the meaning of transits. The planets and their natal houses symbolize the cause, the current transited house symbolize the main arena of action and the houses ruled by the planets symbolize the consequences. I think this scheme is valuable and brings to attention another important rule for transits: when a transit occurs, always look at the relation of the planets in the natal chart (aspect, sign and houses). For example, if you have a trine in natal chart a square in transit won’t be powerful, but if you have an opposition or square he will be strongly felt, making you remember what he symbolize. Because, even the natal aspect has a constant effect in the day to day life, the peaks of his manifestation are when he is reinforced by transits or progressions.


Back to the book, we can see how this grid imagined by Bernadette Brady is applying in specific situations when signs are intercepted or when appear multiple transits. After that, you can read a case study on Joan of Arc chart. I found this example quite interesting!


The chapter ends with a part named Feedback of Failure, where the author identifies four possible reasons for failure in predictive astrology: incorrect birth time, wrong house system, incorrect rulerships, wrong techniques. For the first case, if the birth time has an error of maximum 60 minutes the author advise us to use transit of slower moving planets over the Cross of Matter (ASC-DC and MC-IC axis) to rectify the chart and presents a practical example using the chart of Thomas Edison. For the second cause, wrong house system, the author propose some strange ideas, from my perspective. She writes:


"some people are Placidus people, while some people are Koch people, and so on."


advising us to use a different house system for every person if this is necessary. I think this is wrong! We must find a house system that works in general and not to change the house system for every person, trying to find which system is good for you, which one for me and so on.


The other causes for predictive astrology failure don’t get to much attention from the author.