When I was first learning astrology in the early ’70s, the psychological approach of writers like Dane Rudhyar and Marc Edmund Jones was in its ascendancy; the ideas of Carl Gustav Jung colored nearly every consideration, and the “modern” planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were receiving intense analysis, to the point of meriting whole books on their influence. The eminent astrologer Robert Hand was just beginning to make a mark on the scene, and many other now-famous personalities like Noel Tyl and Liz Greene were emerging.
But somewhere along the line, things began to change. As the freshness of the New Age faded, the more traditional methods of predictive astrology began to reassert themselves. Rob Hand deserted for the traditionalist camp, and competent translations of classical texts by ancient Greek, Arabic and Italian astrologers published by Benjamin Dykes, James Holden and others entered the field. The late Dave Roell and his Astro-America website were single-handedly responsible for making many of these available to the astrological community through his Astrology Classics imprint. Modern thinkers with a classical bent like John Frawley, Christopher Warnock, Chris Brennan, Deborah Houlding, Demetra George, J. Lee Lehman and Kevin Burk began producing original works in that genre, and William Lilly’s 1647 masterpiece, Christian Astrology, experienced a renaissance through their work.
I was exposed to these currents through the blandishments of British astrologer David Wilson on the Aeclectic Tarot forum, and began to explore horary astrology, mainly with the purpose of trying to locate lost items. At the same time, the classical concepts of humours and temperaments began making a dent in my approach to character analysis through natal astrology. With only the seven traditional planets to consider, I found these methods to be compact and lucid, nowhere near as “messy” as current psychological delineation. While I still acknowledge their presence in my work, I began to realize that the meanings of the modern planets are still largely provisional and can’t be relied on as concrete building-blocks for personality analysis. As primarily generational in their focus, they provide background “tone” more than substance. This is nowhere more apparent than in horary practice.
In addition to my hard-to-read facsimile edition of Lilly’s Christian Astrology, I own a couple of important works by modern writers that served to solidify my understanding of traditional techniques: On the Heavenly Spheres by Helena Avelar and Luis Ribeiro, and Understanding the Birth Chart: A Comprehensive Guide to Classical Interpretation by Kevin Burk. My horary approach has been defined by John Frawley’s Horary Textbook, backed up by the comprehensive reference volume by Anne Ungar and Lillian Huber (The Horary Reference Book, Volume 1) and the encyclopedic Rulership Book by Rex Bills. Free downloads of the founding document of Western astrology, Tetrabiblos by Claudius Ptolemy, and the remarkably thorough work of Ptolemy’s younger contemporary Vettius Valens round out my traditional working library at this moment in time. There are many translations of later astrologers that I should look into, but cost and time are disincentives. If you have an interest in the classical approach, any of the listed volumes are worth adding to your collection.