Jessica Adams from The Astrology Show asks traditional astrologer Peter Stockinger to explain the eclipses in the second half of 2013 for people who are new to astrology.
How were eclipses seen centuries ago? And how do you see them now?
Throughout history the occurrence of eclipses has always been associated with some kind of dramatic change, like the beginning of a war, the overthrowing of a ruler, and so forth. The observation of eclipses can be traced back as early as 500 to 600BC. Babylonian records have been preserved, showing that the astrologer Negal-etir wrote to King Esarhaddon, reporting on a lunar eclipse expected to occur in January 673BC. In Babylon it was believed that eclipses were omens sent from the gods, heralding important changes to the fortunes of the king.
In about 75 AD, Dorotheus of Sidon mentioned the astrological importance of eclipses. In the 2nd century AD, the Greek mathematician, astronomer and astrologer Claudius Ptolemy investigated the Babylonian observations of the lunar eclipses in great detail, publishing his thoughts in the Almagest. In book two of his famous astrological textbook Tetrabiblos, Ptolemy deals extensively with eclipses, stating them to be the “first and most potent” cause for change in mundane events.
In 1652, the English astrologer William Lilly published Annus Tenebrosus, containing “a short method how to judge the effects of eclipses” which included the use of decanates, fixed stars and constellations in connection with eclipse prediction. Throughout the history of astrology and up until the end of the 17th century, the lore of eclipse prediction may have become more refined and detailed, but the core meaning and validity of these predictions remain unchanged.
What is your background, Peter?
I began to study and practice astrology nearly 25 years ago. Living in Austria at the time, it was there that I was taught the astrological basics, and soon after I had accomplished this task I moved on to the more specialized teachings of Cosmobiology. This is the astrology of midpoints, graphic ephemerides and 90 degree dials, which, to English speaking astrologers, is also known as Uranian astrology. Having worked in this field for many years, I became disillusioned with the seemingly vague, sometimes blurred and mostly psychological approach modern astrology has to offer. At that time I relocated to the United Kingdom, where, soon after my arrival, I discovered the works of the eminent traditional astrologer William Lilly. A prolonged, intimate study of his books and related works of the Early Modern era re-kindled my interest in the art and led to a love affair with traditional astrology, which is unbroken to this day.
What fascinates you about traditional astrology?
What fascinates me most about traditional astrology is its uncompromising honesty, its clarity and its decisiveness. In traditional astrology less is more, as it mainly makes use of major aspects only, omits the so-called transpersonal planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto and builds on the important first principles. Great emphasis is also placed on the use of the essential and accidental dignities or debilities of planets, a practice which is rarely seen in the modern astrologer’s approach. The rules for delineation and judgment, written down in medieval times or during the Renaissance, are still perfectly applicable to this day.
Could you use the lunar eclipse on Saturday 18th October 2013 (at 25 Aries 45) as an example of your approach to prediction? Bearing in mind that this story will be published online, on 29th July, around three months before?
In all lunar eclipses, we have to take into consideration two sensitive points, namely the placement of the Moon and that of the Sun, which are opposing each other. Here the eclipsed Moon is located in Aries, and a look at the table of Essential Dignities and Debilities shows us that she is peregrine (that is, not essentially dignified). The Sun is in the sign of Libra, wherein he is essentially debilitated by fall, and he is also peregrine. This basic information already provides us with important insights into the nature of the upcoming eclipse. We are able to predict that the energy of the eclipse will most likely be rather negative.
To learn more about the specific quality of this lunar eclipse, we turn to William Lilly’s Annus Tenebrosus, a book already mentioned above. In this textbook, Lilly provides us with detailed information about the specific effects of each solar or lunar eclipse when located in each of the different decanates or faces of the Zodiacal signs. Looking at our eclipse chart once more, we find the Moon in 25°Aries, the third decanate of this sign. Lilly states that during this eclipse women should expect many discommodities and dangers. He also warns about the possible death of some great ladies, particularly at the geographical location wherein the eclipse falls. We know that the planet ruling the third decanate of Aries is Venus, which underlines the importance of this eclipse for women (Venus is the natural significator of women). Venus is located in Sagittarius and is essentially dignified by term. Looking at the placement of the Sun, we realize that he is in Libra, ruled by Venus, which adds to the developing theme. We also know that Mars has rulership over Aries and therefore he is dispositor of the eclipsed Moon. Venus and Mars are not in conjunction to any malefic fixed stars, which indicates that the negative effects of the eclipse may not be as bad as expected. Next we are interested in the duration of the eclipse, and we find it to be three hours and 59 minutes. Lilly claims that the key to establishing the duration of a lunar eclipse’s effect is “one month for every hour”. Therefore we can conclude that this eclipse will affect us for just under four months.
The next step is to determine where the effects of the eclipse will be felt strongly and immediately. The general rule here is that the smaller the distance between the Sun or Moon and any of the angles, the stronger the effects of the eclipse will be. Furthermore, we can say that there is a correlation between the Ascendant, Medium Coeli and Descendant, and the time of the onset of the eclipse’s effect. If the eclipsed Sun or Moon is near the Ascendant, the effects will become noticeable after one, two, three or four months. If the eclipse is near the Medium Coeli, we will notice the effects after five, six, seven or eight months. Should the eclipse be near the Descendant, we can expect effects to occur after nine, then eleven or even twelve months. Thus, being interested in the strong and immediate effects of the eclipse, we want to find out where in the world the Moon will be close to the Ascendant during the eclipse. Looking at the world map, we see that the line of angularity for this particular lunar eclipse runs through Canada, the United States and Mexico. To find out more about the possible effects of the eclipse, we have to look at each of these countries separately. To do this effectively, we have to erect charts of the exact time of the eclipse, cast for the location of the capital city representing each country. The example chart above is cast for Washington DC, the capital of the United States of America, and is therefore representative of the whole of the USA.
To give a quick summary of what we have established, we can conclude that the upcoming solar eclipse will mainly affect women in a rather negative way, and, should it come to the worst, we may even expect the death of a prominent woman. Eclipse rulers Mars and Venus are not in conjunction with any of the malefic fixed stars, and are not highly debilitated which may diminish the severity of the predicted outcome. Sun and Moon are not closely conjunct the Ascendant, respectively Descendant, which leads me to believe that the effects of the eclipse will be felt one month after the exact date and that those effects will not be the strongest possible.
Having had a look at the basic ideas of the prediction of mundane events, it is also possible to predict the effects eclipses may have on the individual. The basic rules as described above apply, but it is also noteworthy that most individuals will not be greatly affected by most eclipses. We should take note and further investigate though if the zodiacal position of the eclipsed luminary is located conjunct the Ascendant, Sun or Moon in the nativity or current solar revolution chart. It is also of importance to see if the planet ruling the eclipse (that is, its dispositor) in question is afflicted in the nativity or solar revolution.
Peter, do you take into account ancient terms like Blood Moon when interpreting?
I am aware of the fact that throughout history the full moon of any particular month has been given a specific name, like Harvest Moon for the September full moon, Hunter’s Moon for the October full moon, and so forth. It has to be said though, that this concept lacks coherence as many different communities chose their individual set of names. The same applies to the term “Blood Moon”. Some sources define the Blood Moon as the full moon following the Harvest Moon (September) but others differ. A great deal of confusion also exists around the exact definition of a so-called Blue Moon. I generally do not take these definitions – derived from folklore – into consideration in my eclipse predictions.
What can the world expect from the Sunday 3rd November 2013 eclipse (at 11 Scorpio 16) which is also an annular total eclipse?
This solar eclipse will be of immediate importance for the United States of America and for Mexico. The eclipse point will be in the second decanate of Scorpio, suggesting Mars and the Sun to be the eclipse rulers. Mars is strong in accidental dignity, being direct, swift, oriental and free of sunbeams. Looking at William Lilly’s prediction in Annus Tenebrosus, we find that the eclipse “argues destruction to some certain king or person of worth and declares his mind averse to armies or wars”. Mars is sextile the eclipse point and in the chart cast for Washington, displayed above, he is in the 10th house. Mundane astrology traditionally associates the 10th house with kings and rulers. In our times this obviously has to be adapted to signify the President of the United States. In the chart, Mars is also conjunct the fixed star Zosma, ‘the girdle of the lion’, associated with selfishness, immorality and a tendency to calculatingly use other people. Lilly writes that Mars as eclipse ruler may “stir up wars, tumults and imprisonments”. He also causes kings and princes (the ruling elite) to commit acts of “tyranny, violence, injuries and injustice”. It may also cause violent storms at sea and “denote sudden and violent shipwrecks, by reason of inordinate blasts”. There is the possibility of the scarcity of grains and “all such things as produced out of the earth”. We also notice that Mars is in mutual reception with Mercury by sign rulership. Mercury, located in the 12th house, is retrograde and combust. Mundanely speaking, the 12th house is associated with secret enemies of the country and spies. In the case of this solar eclipse, we are looking at potential problems with trade, commerce, but also ambassadors and secret enemies of the state.
In-depth delineations of the upcoming solar and lunar eclipse, including additional maps and graphics, will be posted on my web log in due course.
Do you have any examples of accurate prediction made on your blog? William Lilly was well-known for his published forecasts, including the famous Great Fire of London prediction.
Yes, there are quite a number of predictions on my web log that have turned out to be correct. I will pick out three particularly interesting predictions. The first one is based on the solar ingress charts, which I provide regularly on my web log. In March 2012 I predicted that Barack Obama would be elected as the next President of the United States. The original article, Libra 2012 Ingress, Obama and the US Presidential Elections, published on 10th March 2012, can be found here.
In November 2012, Barack Obama won the elections, as predicted by a number of high profile astrologers. My web log entry from the 8th of November, US Presidential Election: Astrologers who got it right and who missed, celebrates the event:
The second accurate prediction is based on a horary chart I did for a couple whose dog went missing. My web log entry, The Case of Molly, the Missing Pug, can be read here
The third accurate prediction is based on the solar eclipse that took place on 10th May 2013. Therein I predicted that women’s issues would be specifically highlighted. Since then a multitude of newspaper articles has been published, dealing with the issues of women’s rights. Here is a quick selection: Courage in Cairo – the Arab women’s awakening, The New Suffragettes: Witness the bare-chested defiance of Femen and Beyoncé Performs At Chime For Change Concert (Beyoncé and rapper husband Jay-Z performed together at a gig in London to raise awareness of a new campaign supporting girls and women across the globe).
How do you see ancient stone sites in Britain in the context of astrology?
There is no doubt about the fact that the movement of the luminaries and the planets has fascinated humans for millennia. We know about the evidence that the entrances of many passage graves were deliberately orientated to let the rays of the sun light up markers inside the chambers at certain times of the year. There is also much speculation about the function of Stonehenge as a perpetual calendar or a stellar observatory. The Scottish engineer Professor Alexander Thom undertook a close survey of Britain’s megalithic sites and came to the conclusion that several were built to function as astronomical complexes, used to predict eclipses. He also suggested that the ancient megalith builders divided the year into four parts, observing spring equinox, midsummer, autumn equinox and midwinter. This, of course, corresponds to the Sun’s entry into the Zodiac signs of Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. Thom also claimed that he found evidence of sites being used as lunar observatories. It has to be said though that since Thom’s death in 1985, many scholars have questioned the validity of his findings.
Do you remember the 1999 eclipse and what did you learn from it as an astrologer, if so?
I do remember the 1999 eclipse, if not for strictly astrological but rather observational reasons. At the time I lived in a remote farmhouse, located on the hillside of “The Rivals”, a three-peaked mountain range on the North Wales Llyn peninsula. The mountainside is littered with the remains of a Bronze Age village and an Iron Age hill fort. At the exact time of the eclipse I was taking our two sheepdogs for a walk up the mountain, not thinking that I would be able to observe the eclipse. As sheer luck had it, just at the moment of the eclipse, thin clouds drifted across the sun, making it possible to observe the phenomenon. I will forever remember the strange quality of the dimmed sunlight and the unnatural silence. All the birds had suddenly stopped singing and it felt as if the world had paused, holding its breath. At this moment I felt that I was experiencing some of the instinctual fear of the unknown, previously unobserved and therefore unpredictable, that our distant ancestors must have felt, witnessing a similar event.
Can you recommend books, websites or courses for the beginner in traditional astrology?
One of the best books on traditional astrology available at the moment is Avelar and Ribeiro’s On the Heavenly Spheres. An in-depth review of their book can be found on my web log. Beginners interested in traditional horary astrology should have a look at Sue Ward’s website. She offers home study courses in traditional astrology. More information can be found on her website.
Readers who are interested to learn more about William Lilly’s book on eclipses, will be pleased to know that Sue Ward’s and my anthology William Lilly – Adept & Astrologer, which includes an annotated transcript of Annus Tenebrosus, is due to be published by Mandrake of Oxford. For more information, go to http://mandrake.uk.net/william-lilly-adept-astrologer.