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.


Astrological Roots: The Hellenistic Legacy


astrological_roots.jpgJoseph Crane (b. 1954 Brighton, MA) is an American astrologer and psychotherapist who practiced astrology since the late 1980’s and is the co-founder of the Astrology Institute. His main interest is to understand and teach Hellenistic astrology or, even more, "to reformulate modern astrology by using methods from astrology’s traditions". The most significant results of his work are his books: A Practical Guide to Traditional Astrology (1997) and Astrological Roots: the Hellenistic Legacy (2007). The last one is the most comprehensive study about Hellenistic astrology that we have nowadays. 


In the Preface the author gives a beautiful definition for astrology:


"Astrology is one of the great adventures of human civilization and has contributed greatly to people’s lives and to our culture over time. Astrology’s purpose is to use the positions of the planets and stars in the sky to gather information on the individual and on humanity. Astrology is a system that enables us to understand the past, present and the future within a universe full of meaning."


and then starts to criticize modern astrology as being too focused on speculations, too much connected by modern astrologers with different spiritual ideologies like supposed previous lifetimes, Jungian psychology etc., resulting in difficult, fuzzy, confusing interpretations. On the other side traditional astrology, the subject of this book, has clear concepts, gives better results and is easy to apply. He wants to help us reestablish contact with, what he calls "astrology roots".  


Introduction: Astrology then and now

First, Joseph Crane makes a brief incursion in the early evolution of astrology starting from Mesopotamia in 400 BCE until 400 CE when Christianity became a fierce enemy for astrology. Then, he discusses the most important critics regarding astrology: why many astrological predictions do not pass, how the planets can scientifically influence humans, how astrology match with different religious beliefs, why ancient astrologers judgments are fatalistic etc.  


Chapter 1: Astrology’s Bricks and Mortar

The author explains that in ancient astrology the relation between the astrologer and the visible sky was much more important that in modern astrology because now we use computers, software and forget to look at the real picture, on the sky. With this idea in mind, he presents several important matters in traditional astrology like: sect, the seasons and their relation with signs, the whole sign houses system, the planetary joys, triplicities, quadrants and a little piece of practical astrology. About the houses, he mentions that in ancient tradition the houses were not associated with signs (House 1 with Aries, House 2 with Taurus etc.) like in modern astrology. This is a good point to remember. Also, he explains very well the relation between seasons and signs, for example:


"Cancer is the sign that begins with the summer equinox, and the season is hot. Hot increases activity and can also go to extremes of expression. Cancer, however, is a water sign and we tend to think of signs in the water triplicity as sensitive, emotional, and imaginative. Cancer, more than Scorpio and Pisces, has hot qualities of dramatic emotionality. Cancer wears its heart on its sleeve, despite its desire to hide within its shell. Libra, which begins with the autumn equinox, is in the dry season of the year. Dry separates and sees things as distinct. Unlike Gemini and Aquarius, the other signs in the air triplicity, Libra discriminates carefully between it and others, and defines itself by form and protocol. Capricorn is an Earth sign in the cold season. Cold is subdued and self-contained, sometimes brittle. Capricorn’s reticence, sobriety and curmudgeonly qualities are legendary, especially in contrast with the restlessness of Virgo (in the hot and drying time of the year)and the sensuality of Taurus (in the wet and warming time of the year)." 

Matheseos Libri VIII


matheseos_libri.jpgJulius Firmicus Maternus (280-360 A.D.) was a Sicilian lawyer from the upper nobility who retired from his career in order to devote himself to science and literature. He wrote Matheseos Libri VIII around 330 A.D. and dedicated to his friend, the consul Lollianus Mavortius. The material used for this book is mainly from Greek astrology sources. 



The first chapter represents a letter written by the author to his friend Mavortius, Governor of the entire East. Mavortius was an intelligent and learned person who had lots of discussions with Julius Firmicus on many subjects, one being astrology. A big part of this letter is treating the conflict between astrologers and their opponents. To all the questions rose by those who deny astrology Julius Firmicus answers by showing that people can’t control anything in life, that Fate (represented by planets in his system) governs everything. He was a fatalistic astrologer who believed people can’t change their inherent destiny. 



Here you can find a wide range of astrological subjects. The author writes about the signs, the exaltations and falls (he considers a planet is more fortunate in exaltation than in domicile), the Egyptian decans and terms, matutine and vespertine planets, duodecatemoria, houses, aspects, antiscia etc.

Matutine planets are those which rise before the Sun (oriental), vespertine are those which rise after the Sun (occidental). The duodecatemoria is a technique based on the degree a planet have in a sign to compute another position which will reveal the whole essence. But, there is a problem because the algorithm is erroneous. You can find the good one here.

The aspects between planets are analyzed like whole sign aspects, without orb, giving much importance to the direction from which are formed: a right aspect is made from the back of the sign (dexter), a left aspect is in front of the sign (sinister).



The first pages from Liber Tertius present Thema Mundi, the chart for the birthday of the Universe. This doctrine, writes Firmicus, comes by Mercury itself who transmitted to other intermediaries. Thema Mundi is a chart with all the planets in domicile at 15 degrees. I believe at least in this moment is much more mythology that science.


After that, you’ll find the explanations for the planets and luminaries in houses. I think the interpretations are quite delightful and a big part of them are matching with reality. The analyses always takes in account if the chart is diurnal or nocturnal, thus if the planets are in sect their effect is considerable better. Also, in many cases, the author introduces new aspects (very often the Moon), analyzes more than position in house, for example:


"Mercury located exactly on the ascendant in signs in which he rejoices, in a daytime chart, makes philosophers, teachers of the art of letters, or geometers […]or men skilled in sacred writings. Often he makes orators and lawyers, especially if in this house he is in his own sign or in other voiced signs. If either the Sun, Saturn or Jupiter are in aspect with Mercury in this house, he will make great men crowned with wreaths for being famous in sacred matters. […]But if Mars is in opposition or in square aspect or together with Mercury on the ascendant, the native is attacked by a variety of continual evils."

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.