The planetary hours are a simple and effective ancient astrological technique to optimize your life. They are a historical form of astrology based on observation, your specific location, and thus your lived experience. This technique does not depend on charts, so you can begin to use it right away. This September, Astrology Hub has invited me to provide a free online workshop teaching you the ins and outs of planetary hours.
Here are just a few of the gorgeous primary sources I’ll be discussing during my talk ‘Legitimizing Astrology’ for Adam Elenbaas’s Nightlight Astrology winter speaker series this Wednesday evening. I am thrilled to debut what has been effectively two decades of research into the lifeworlds of astrologers during Weimar Germany.
Please join me for this look into how astrologers nearly a century ago tried to justify their practices, and learn from their attempts as we continue our own work in this marginalized field today. The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same! Most of the material I am presenting has not been translated into English before, so this is truly an opportunity to peek behind the curtain of German astrology in the twentieth century. Hope to see you Wednesday evening!
Official seminar description:
This seminar will analyze how and in what ways astrologers seek to legitimize their field, and how these strategies, in turn, change the nature of astrological practice itself. We will focus on the historical case study of German astrologers at the turn of the twentieth century. We will compare technical, popular, and academic literature to show that regardless of one’s particular status in the community, the attempt to justify astrology as a science ran throughout astrological publications. A look at the status of astrology versus German law will propose one possible reason for the presence of scientific appeals in astrological publications of the time. This historical case study will provide a framework to understand and organize current efforts to legitimize astrological practice. By looking backwards, we may strengthen our command of current debates taking place about astrology’s legitimacy as a practice in society.
This early spring promises lots of Zahrt action! Here’s the skinny:
On Feb 27/28 I’ll be teaching at the Portland School of Astrology’s Astro Throwback conference in Portland, Oregon, alongside luminaries such as Andrea L. Gehrz, Austin Coppock, Bill Frazer, Chris Brennan, Jaysen Paulson, and Wade Caves. My talk will cover the technique of directing astrological charts by triplicity. More information is available at the PSA website.
On March 5, I’ll be speaking about astrology and plant magic for Kepler College’s community webinar series. Often, astrology focuses on the human life world, yet plants make up more than 1,000 times the biomass of all animals (other than bacteria) on the earth’s land area. In this seminar we will apply our knowledge of the spiritual intelligence of our celestial realm to the spiritual intelligence of our pervasive plant realm. Register here!
On March 9, Adam Elenbaas will host me in his Nightlight Astrology winter speaker webinar series for the world premiere of my research into the history of German astrology. This talk has been almost eighteen years in the making (which you can read more about in my recent interview with astrologer Wade Caves here). In this seminar through a German historical case study, I will analyze how astrologers made attempts to legitimize astrology in terms of science, and how these strategies, in turn, changed the nature of astrological practice itself. By looking backwards, we may understand and gain better command over current efforts to legitimize astrological practice in society. Head over to the Nightlight Astrology events page to sign up!
Hope you can join me for one or all of these quite different talks!
…last but not least, I must share my personal Groundhog Day tradition of watching DirtyEpic129’s remix trailer of Groundhog Day. Enjoy!
Feature photo above by Marcus McCoy of House of Orpheus.
What happens to our charts after we die? Do they continue on without us? What would something like posthumous astrology look like? These question has kept me quite busy in recent months. In November, Nina Gryphon approached me to share my thoughts with her new series, Rubicon, happening this Sunday, January 10. And in December, I had a chance to catch up with my colleague Dr Alexander Cummins and chat about it. Here’s some of our back-and-forth to whet your palate:
Jenn: So I’ve been researching the astrology of the afterlife for this upcoming talk…
Alexander: Oh SNAP. Sounds ace
Jenn: As in, how can we tell if someone is going to become prominent again after they die, Van Gogh style? Just a hypothesis…a public thinking out loud – a stab at a countermeasure to all the past life focus in astrology.
Alexander: Reputation and reception. Interesting…
Jenn: When I spoke with Nina about doing Rubicon, she asked me if I had any Saturn thoughts floating about because the topic for her January event is Saturn. So I told her, not exactly, but I have been thinking about a kind of post-Saturn problem… What happens to our charts after we die? I hypothesize that birth, as an ontological event, creates a chart that lives on after the native dies, so that techniques like zodiacal releasing also apply to the legacy of the lived life of the individual. And fixed star astrology has a way to predict your reputation after you die. Then we can talk about more predictable timing techniques like transits to the natal chart as the native’s products of life outlive it (companies, films, stories, inventions etc).
Alexander: So a lifetime might be longer than a lifespan.
Alexander: So, to ask crudely, those same configurations in the nativity can be read as remaining pointing out into the world instead of into the native?
Jenn: What do you mean pointing out into the world?
Alexander: I’m just interested in how the nativity can be read in the legacy on the world, in impact.
Jenn: Yeah… I’m developing the short answer for that now, but don’t have it ready yet. The idea goes like this: if we look at Valens’ rule for prominence, and see that in your chart it doesn’t happen in your lifetime, but you have it happen 84 years from now, after you’re dead, will the things you made (companies, stories, inventions) become prominent at that time?
Alexander: Ahhh. How does Flying V define prominence?
Jenn: I’d say known to the world, fame of sorts, becoming the highest authoritiy in your field. For example, as Chris Brennan has shown, according to this technique Al Gore has seen his most prominent days. They are over, and he is receding from the global stage. The specific reference is in Book IV of his Anthology.
Alexander: How is a prominence date or period arrived at?
Jenn: The specific technique I am discussing now is called zodiacal releasing. Do you know it?
Alexander: Don’t think I do.
Jenn: Ok, well it is not very easy to describe at first because it isn’t well known yet, but in the tradition of medieval epic poetry, let me try. You know the Lot of Fortune, yes?
Jenn: Hah! OK! The Lot of Fortune is a mathematical point arrived at by taking the arc distance between the Sun and Moon at your birth, and appling that arc to the ascendant. The rules are slightly modified depending on whether you were born during the day or during the night (known as the Sect of your chart). The Lot of Spirit, which comes up in my talk, is the inverse of the Lot of Fortune, when you apply the rules.
Alexander: Got it. So what does that have to do with zodiacal releasing?
Jenn: Zodiacal releasing is a Hellenistic astrological technique used to track periods of activity in someone’s life, and calculating these periods depends upon knowing where someone’s Lot of Fortune or Lot of Spirit are. Once you have the Lot figured out, then you apply the planetary periods in a regular temporal scheme. These planetary periods are fixed: so Mars = 15 years, Venus = 8, and so on… So, using zodiacal releasing you can basically create a road map, an outline of the chapters of someone’s life. My friend Kent and I designed an app for it, here: http://nataltransits.com/timelord.html
If you click that website, you can see the general map as laid out from 1/1/1970 (birthdate of the UNIX operating system).
Jenn: Here’s how to read what you see. The stripes are the periods by planet. On the left, you have the major cycles (referred to commonly as L1 and L2). On the right you see a breakdown of all the levels (L1/L2/L3/L4) side by side.
In zodiacal releasing there are four levels: so you have a major period based on the perfection of the 360 days of the Egyptian year, and then sub periods, which are 1/12 of the amount of the time of the major period. When you see the little mountains, those are what Chris Brennan has been calling “peak periods,” but, to quote Curtis Manwaring, “Valens used the word ‘chrematistikos’ and [Hellenistic astrologer, Robert] Schmidt has translated it as having the meanings ‘busy’ or ‘telling’.” I prefer to think of them as periods of maximum intensity for an individual, without evoking the type of positive imagery Western culture associates with the term “peak” because these times are not alway subjectively positive for the person living through them.
Notice: the stripes that the mountain peaks appear in are always the same color. This has to do with Valens’ interpretive principle regarding prominence using the signs angular to fortune. I’ll go over that in my lecture, suffice it to say, I designed the color coding this way, so that once you know the technique, you can basically instantly identify periods of intensity for your client.
So the period before a mountain peak is leading up to that peak, and the period after, is the denouement, so…you prep, you perform, and you wrap up, loose ends and whatnot. Like that zen koan: First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is a mountain.
Now, not everyone sees the major L1 peak in their lifetime. That is, will this plebeian will remain unknown forever? However, mathematically these cycles continue after people die. So, does the chart – as an ontological reality – live on past the human life? You can identify peaks by hand using the lists generated by other available software, but this software does the heavy lifting.
Jenn: Do you see it now?
Alexander: Yes, I see the truth of it. What are the lightning bolts?
Jenn: Those are another facet of this technique called “loosing of the bonds.” As Demetra George once shared with me, think of Saturnalia. Put roughly, whatever you were up to before that point changes. It is as though your bond with fate is broken, and you are set free to do something totally different.
Alexander: Fascinating. Points of severing and rearticulating.
Jenn: Yes. It is a pretty fabulous technique.
Alexander: That is cool.
Jenn: Chris Brennan and I ran Van Gogh’s chart thru it, and found that his most impressive record breaking painting sales occurred during his postmortem major peak periods. Chris talks about that in his latest module for his Hellenistic Astrology course.
Jenn: So for my Rubicon talk, I want to look at that more closely and posit that the sheer factor of our birth creates an ontological shift, and that our charts outlive us, that is, our personal astrology does not stop working once we do. What say you, stalwart theoretician!?!
Alexander: I think you make a strong case for it. I like this phrase ontological shift. The virtue of birth itself. Like the virtue of death itself contagious making somewhere unpleasant, not merely the existence of a ghost there.
Jenn: Well it also then begs the question… if our astrology works after we die, what about before we are born? !!!! We are always someone else’s transit.
Alexander: !!! The 4-dimensional literal family tree.
Jenn: Yeah but I mean I’ve been curious about this, because death appears to be a boundary, but our experience of loved ones dying is not so cut and dry, is it? They are still present to us, and if we look, we may find that transits to their charts manifest events for us (or those of us close to them).
Alexander: Right. What is a presence? Or what forces interplay to allow that person to, well, be-personing. Accrued patina of virtue remaining like a kirlian relief.
Jenn: I mean, for example, people often talk about past lives in evolutionary astrology, but if we “live on” after our deaths – if our charts are still active, meaning our SOUL is also – then how can we have a “next life”?
Alexander: I like thinking about death as prismatic when considering eschatology of the soul.
Jenn: Go on…
Alexander: Well, I just mean, splits you off into various different modalities. Both local haunts and ongoing elevations. Maybe like leaving behind various living serpent skin shed impressions in various astral wossnames of yourself. Like the yew tree, whose branches root and roots branch in an amphibious interplay of life and death.
Jenn: You, more than most, pay attention to this boundary (or seeming boundary). The topic of that day’s talks is Saturn, so I wanted to burst past Saturn and show that another kind of legacy possible.
Alexander: Sure. Still seems very apt.
Jenn: Yeah it’s still so hypothetical. I have no answers here. I’m just playing publicly, seeing what sticks to the wall, inciting new research and maybe some productive anger.
Alexander: Right. importance of public thinking, especially public thinking aloud…
Jenn: Yea, and owning the uncertainty, allowing others to meet you halfway. To have a chance to collectively think about the roots of what we are doing when we read astrologically. We assume certain things about death, but what do we really know? And what can we know through astrology? Can we come up with a posthumous astrology?
I hope you’ll meet me halfway. My Rubicon talk takes place online this Sunday at 12PM PST. Register by clicking the image below:
This past summer, astrologers Austin Coppock, Nicholas Civitello, and I curated and produced the first volume of The Ascendant. This journal is the official publication for the Association for Young Astrologers. Here’s a brief description of the journal from the AYA website:
The Ascendant is unlike any astrological publication you have seen before. Not quite a journal, and not quite a magazine, it features 72 full-color pages of probing articles alongside the photography and artwork of living artists. The articles offer a balance between theory-driven inquiry and practice-based evidence. Philosophy, historiography, and new takes on tradition are presented with a tone of openness, inviting you to join in the thought experiments for expanding upon our astrological knowledge. While the Association for Young Astrologers is aimed at supporting the entry of younger generations into the astrological community, there is something in The Ascendant for everyone.
Our issue includes works by Gary P. Caton, J. Lee Lehman, Eric Purdue, Tony Bruno Mack, Ian Waisler, Gary Lorentzen, Leisa Schaim, Andrea L. Gehrz, and Kent Bye. We feature artwork and photography by Wonder Bright, Katie Grinnan, and Yvette Endrijautzki.
We launched our magazine at the International Society for Astrological Research conference in Arizona (ISAR) this past September:
There are 144 limited edition copies in print. Half of them sold out at ISAR alone. In November of this year, astrologer Matt Savinar interviewed me about the making of the journal. He and I also discuss articles and authors that appear there, as well as some history of astrology. Have a listen here:
There are still some copies of the limited edition left. Head over to the AYA website to get yours before they’re all sold out!
This September, I’ll be in attendance at the international Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle, where Ouroboros Press will have copies of my translation of Zoroaster’s Telescope (now available for pre-order).
And at some point this fall, I will resume my workshops at the Public School in Oakland. Last Spring’s “Romp through the History of Astrology” was a major success. I’m looking forward to more!