Monday, 22 June 2009

Manilius on Hard Work

There would be no harm in emphasising Peter Stockinger's comment below on House Systems where he tells us that the secret to becoming a competent astrologer is hard work. It reminded me of a passage in Astronomica by Marcus Manilius which was written in the 1st century AD and which very eloquently explains the principle.

The object of your quest is God: you are seeking to scale the skies and, though born beneath the rule of fate, to gain knowledge of that fate; you are seeking to pass beyond your understanding and make yourself master of the universe. The toil involved matches the reward to be won, nor are such high attainments secured without a price; so wonder not at the winding route and the intricacy of things. It is enough that we have been given the power to make the search: let the rest be left to us. Unless you mine mountains, gold will elude your grasp, and the earth that is heaped above will bar access to the wealth it hides. Men will traverse the entire globe to make jewels available, and will not shrink from occupying the sea to gain the precious pearl. Each year the anxious farmer will utter every prayer he knows, and yet how small is the yield of the treacherous countryside! We shall face the perils of the sea-winds in our search for gain and follow the god of war in hope of booty. Ah, shame on those willing to pay so high a price for perishable goods! Luxury too entails a kind of military service: the glutton keeps sleepless watch over that which proves his ruin, and profligates oft pant for their own undoing. What then shall we give for heaven? What is the worth of that, with which we may purchase all? Man must expend his very self before God can dwell in him.
Nothing much has changed in 2000 years.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Lilly's Nativity in Finnish

My article regarding William Lilly's true nativity has been translated into Finnish by Petri Laakso and can be found at

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

William Lilly's Nativity - continued

My decision to publish William Lilly's true nativity here was made after much thought.In terms of circulation, the internet is second to none, but it has many drawbacks, too. I wanted the widest possible audience for an astrological fact. Too often astrologers are deluged with opinion and it is time that a few facts were introduced into a daily diet of pre-digested whimsy. William Lilly's nativity, offered for your interest here, is a fact, but not a universal truth. It is a fact because it exists and because it was the calculation which Lilly himself used (Elias Ashmole tells us so). It is not a universal truth because it is a personal instrument rectified to Lilly's own satisfaction and so broadly comes under the heading of opinion. Nevertheless, it is Lilly's opinion, not that of an enemy. I don't understand why it is that astrologers appear to accept so readily that Gadbury's approximation is good enough to work with. But, unfortunately, this is just an example of an attitude which helps to perpetuate less than rigorous scholarship. I am not a scholar, I am an astrologer who has engaged in serious study and research, even so, I am capable of providing the sources of my information so that readers may form their own opinions.

There is only one astrological system. It may have evolved over the centuries, but it remains fundamentally the same and anyone who has even looked at the authors of the past will see that. However, method does vary and we can link that to cultural changes, yet the system remains recognisable from one age to another - until the 20th century that is. William Lilly is important because he presents the system in a way that modern minds can readily understand because his time is much nearer to our own. Still we have to deal with the cultural differences, but nothing so vast as that when we try to approach the medieval period or the classical. William Lilly is important because he speaks of astrology as it was, not as it became through the Enlightenment. He speaks of astrology as a magical art, inextricably linked with the other hermetic arts. William Lilly is important because he practised what he preached and his success will never be matched by anyone in this age, we simply do not have that level of understanding. Our culture has robbed us of the means by which we might approach the subject and we have lost innocence, as William Blake might say. And yet we still claim astrology as our own...

The very least we can do is to get our facts straight.

My thanks to Luis Ribeiro of Academia de Astrologia (link shown right) who produced this video.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Lilly's Nativity iin Portuguese

The article below regarding the true nativity of William Lilly has been translated into Portuguese and can be found by following the link to the right for Primum Mobile. My thanks to Helena Avelar and Luis Ribeiro for translating it.

Friday, 12 June 2009

The Nativity of William Lilly

For many years, the only extant copy of Lilly's nativity was that provided by John Gadbury in his Collectio Geniturarum of 1662. This version was also used in the Regulus facsimile of Christian Astrology in 1985; since Gadbury hated Lilly, it seems a travesty to have published it in Lilly's greatest work. I know that Olivia Barclay detested the chart, but she wanted the facsimile to be published and thus didn't stand in its way. (To set the record straight, it was she who began the recovery of the Tradition in the early 1980s by promoting Lilly's work and allowing her original copy to be pulled apart for photographing. As much as other notable astrologers might have done in this regard later on, she was the first, the most active and the most well-known. I know this because I was there, having been one of her earliest students.)

Whether it matters or not that most astrologers know only Gadbury's rather poisonous version of Lilly's nativity, I will leave for you to decide. However, since we always bemoan the lack of accurate data, it seems a little odd to ignore the chart that Lilly himself used. I have published it before in the Astrological Associations's Journal, and presented it at a lecture at least five years ago, so it hasn't been hidden from sight.

There are serious differences, particularly regarding the Moon's position and that of some of the cusps, between this 'authorised' version and that published by Gadbury and his friend Blackwell. You will notice that Lilly has gone to the trouble of calculating some planetary positions to the second, so it's a little optimistic to say that the differences are small and thus trivial. If you are not using primary directions for natal predictions, then these discrepancies won't mean as much, but it seems that to follow the Tradition and *not* use primaries is missing the point somewhat.

The following chart is from MS Ashm. 394 and is endorsed by Ashmole himself as being Lilly's nativity copied by Ashmole. This is the correct chart and the one which Lilly rectified and directed himself. Anyone wishing to comment on Lilly's life should be referring to this and no other unless for reasons of comparison.

From Lilly's unpublished papers:

From Gadbury's published works: