In September 2011 the American Federation of Astrologers hosted a three-day conference titled Traditional Astrology in the 21st Century, In Honor of James Holden. The conference consisted of talks on the history, philosophy and techniques of Hellenistic and Medieval astrology presented by Demetra George, Benjamin Dykes and Chris Brennan.
This recording of the conference features 13 hours of audio lectures in MP3 format, along with many diagrams, handouts, lecture slides, and other material from the conference presentations in PDF format.
Demetra George: Beginner’s Tutorial: Basic Concepts, Definitions, and Terminology
Demetra George introduces traditional astrology and gives simple definitions for many of the terms and concepts that are used in the remainder of the conference. If you are a beginner to traditional astrology, you’ll want to be sure to listen to this first, in order to be familiar with special vocabulary such as sect, diurnal and nocturnal planets, whole sign houses, and more. (1hr 45m)
Panel: History, Authors, & Transmission
What is traditional astrology, when was it practiced and who are the main authors? In this opening panel the speakers give a broad overview of the history of the astrological tradition, spanning from its origins in Mesopotamia through the Hellenistic, Medieval and Renaissance periods. This sets the stage for the broader conference topic of why the current rediscovery of our tradition so important for contemporary astrologers. (1hr 18m)
Demetra George: Planets and the Joy of Sect
Demetra George explains how the first consideration of traditional astrology was the sect status of planets, and how planets operate differently in diurnal and nocturnal charts. What factors cause a planet to rejoice and thus lead to more favorable outcomes? How does sect relate to the solar phase cycle where a planet’s visibility, speed, and direction (under the Sun’s beams, combustion, in the heart of the sun, retrogrades, and helical rising/setting) all have interpretative meaning? (50m)
Ben Dykes: Reading signs and understanding dignities
Ben Dykes discusses how signs are used in traditional astrology, and the all-important question of dignities. Natal charts are used to understand the meaning and use of domicile rulerships, exaltations, detriment, fall, being “foreign” or peregrine, bounds, triplicity lords, and (time permitting), related concepts such as reception. (38m)
Ben Dykes: “Dwelling in the house of the lord”
Ben Dykes discusses the important distinction between (and controversy over) whole-sign houses and quadrant-based houses (like Placidus or Regiomontanus), other categories like “good” and “bad” houses, and basics of house interpretation: planets in houses, house lords and their locations, and the importance of a planet aspecting its own house. (37m)
Chris Brennan: The Development of the Traditional Aspect Doctrine
The aspect doctrine has gone through a number of major changes from its inception in the Hellenistic period until now. Chris Brennan presents the basic principles of the aspect doctrine from the Hellenistic period which form the foundation of the modern concept, focusing in particular on techniques that did not survive into contemporary astrological practice. Chris shows how distinctions such as right vs. left aspects, overcoming, hurling rays, enclosure, and maltreatment allow for greater precision and nuance in delineations. (50m)
Panel: Passed Through Many Hands – The Transmission and Translation of Ancient Texts
The foundation texts of our astrological discipline have traveled through many cultures where they have been successively translated into different languages. Speakers will discuss the reading, understanding, and appreciation of our predecessors, as well as the special problems of manuscript traditions and textual translation. (55m)
Panel: Astrology and Philosophies of Life
Traditional astrology has a rich and overlapping variety of approaches to life, values, and ethics. Speakers describe and discuss the role of astrology in the following streams of thought: the “causal” Ptolemaic-Aristotelian, the Stoic, the Hermetic-magical-Neoplatonic, and the Christian-Jewish. We also address how these approaches suggest different ways of thinking about charts and how to counsel clients. (1h 33m)
Demetra George: A Traditional Approach to the Topic of Relationships
Demetra George discusses how a traditional astrologer judges a chart’s potential for successful, happy, and stable partnerships. This will lead to an explanation of how the ancient timing technique of planetary periods and ascensional times of the signs can target a set of dates at which the marital activity, as indicated by the natal potential, is most likely to occur. This model can be also used for analyzing other topics such as health, wealth, and profession. (50m)
Chris Brennan: The Theory and Practice of Horary Astrology
Chris Brennan provides an overview of the development and practice of horary astrology, from its origins in consultation charts in the Hellenistic tradition, to the more complex methods that were developed during the Medieval period. This lecture will cover the basic principles of delineating horary charts, demonstrating how to use traditional guidelines in order to answer a single specific question such as, “Will I get the job?” (52m)
Ben Dykes: Profections and Solar Revolutions
Ben Dykes explains two related and common predictive techniques: annual profections (with its special ruling planet, the “lord of the year”), and medieval solar returns. Traditional astrologers combined these annual techniques using transits, derived houses, and the sign of the year, and we look at actual charts to see how to determine the basic themes of the year as well as how to identify which transits matter most. (42m)
Chris Brennan: Zodiacal Releasing
Chris Brennan provides an overview of one of the most powerful timing techniques that has been recovered from the early Hellenistic tradition to date. He demonstrates how the Lots of Spirit and Fortune are used to divide a native’s life into periods of greater or lesser activity and importance with respect to career and life direction. Used properly, the technique allows an astrologer to make specific statements about the course of the native’s life as a whole. (50m)
Audience Commentary: Traditional Astrology and the Conference
In this short excerpt, audience members reflect on what they’d like to see as traditional astrology moves forward. (17m)
Chris Brennan and Ben Dykes: The Future of Traditional Astrology
In this re-recorded session, Chris and Ben reflect on traditional astrology, where the movement is going, and what students should do to advance in it. (1h 03m)
Demetra George, M.A. Classics has practiced astrology for more than 35 years, and specializes in archetypal mythology and ancient techniques. She is the author of Astrology For Yourself, Asteroid Goddesses, Mysteries of the Dark Moon, Finding Our Way Through the Dark, and Astrology and the Authentic Self. She lives in Oregon, lectures internationally, and leads pilgrimages to the sacred sites in Greece, Egypt, and India. Her forthcoming works include a translation of Hermetic Astro-Medical texts and Traditional Astrology: An Introductory Study Guide and Workbook. She offers astrological consultations and mentors individual students in all levels of astrological education.
Dr. Benjamin Dykes is a leading medieval astrologer and translator who earned his PhD in philosophy from the University of Illinois. He received his medieval astrology qualification from Robert Zoller and taught philosophy courses at universities in Illinois and Minnesota. In 2011 he published three horary works: The Search of the Heart, al-Kindi’s Forty Chapters, and The Book of the Nine Judges. For modern astrologers, he published Traditional Astrology for Today in 2011. He currently offers the Logos & Light philosophy lectures on MP3 and speaks to astrological audiences worldwide.
Chris Brennan is a practicing astrologer and researcher from Denver, Colorado. He was educated at Kepler College, where he focused on cross-cultural comparisons between the astrological traditions, and he also spent two years studying at Project Hindsight. He is the former President of the Association for Young Astrologers, as well as the former Research Director of the National Council for Geocosmic Research. His forthcoming book is titled Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate.
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