Using Fixed Stars

There are two methods of using the fixed stars and their constellations for astrological purposes nowadays. 1) The fixed stars longitude method on the ecliptic or 2) The visual astrology of parans. The ecliptic is the path the Sun takes to travel around the earth, and it comprises the 360 degrees of the zodiac. The use of fixed stars in astrology goes back thousands of years, but since many of the important books were probably burnt in the fire of the great library in Alexandria, we may never really know precisely how the fixed stars were used astrologically as opposed to astronomically.

Hipparchus devised the first known catalogue of fixed stars in 129 BC when he projected 850 stars onto the ecliptic. Ptolemy the famed astrologer, astronomer and mathematician from Alexandria expanded this earlier work. At the end of 149 AD, Ptolemy had listed 1022 stars by longitude and latitude. This time Ptolemy took precession into account so this star list could be used by future generations.

This was a complete innovation. It was published in his influential astronomical work Almagest. This way of working with the fixed stars caught on in a big way, since it was beautifully simple. It completely wiped out the complex use of parans, which were thought to have been used previously.

Parans V Longitude

fixed-stars1Ptolemy’s tables were in use for an incredible 1000 years, but fixed star astrology fell out of favour during the uprise of Christianity. Ptolemy’s work was rediscovered in the Arab world, however. Astronomer Ulugh Beg (1394-1449) produced star maps that were based on the poles of the celestial equator rather than the ecliptic.

Beg’s positions differ from Ptolemy’s by about 1 degree due to advanced instruments and a better understanding of physics. To get a better understanding of the differences between the two systems there is a great debate here on Skyscript’s forum that explains the history and science of the longitude system of using fixed stars.

Bernadette Brady advocates the use of parans with fixed stars and refers to Anonymous of 379 CE’s “Treatise On Bright Fixed Stars” in which it is stated that only fixed stars close to the ecliptic should be used in the manner of Ptolemy and that the only true way to use those above the ecliptic is by using parans. I suspect this recommendation is due to inaccuracies of measuring fixed stars off the ecliptic almost 2000 years ago. Science has moved on quite a bit since then!

Brady also says we shouldn’t confuse Ptolemy’s Astronomy (Almagest) with his Astrology (Tetrabiblios). I don’t know if Ptolemy used parans as I can find no reference for it, neither can I find any current book on fixed stars that uses them. Since 1930, fixed star astrologers, Vivian Robson, Elsbeth Ebertin, Eric Morse and the late Diana K Rosenberg all use the longitude method for their interpretations.

I personally prefer the longtitude method because it is universal in terms of location. For example, if I used parans to read an eclipse, I would have to do a chart for every single city on earth! I also prefer the ecliptic method for natals since with parans everyone born on the same day in the same city, gets the same rising and midheaven star.

These days generally, in the US at least, birth times are recorded which again makes me think parans would’ve been more useful in times when birth times were not. I would like to share with you how I  use the fixed stars in my own practice. It is so easy to get swamped by them, so I have arranged a tiered system. In this way we open up the mythology all the constellations, near and far. You can look up a stars latitude on constellation of words .

Constellations & Latitude

NEIGHBOURS: Fixed stars close to the ecliptic are generally those from the constellations of the zodiac. Like the star Regulus for Leo, Aldebaran for Taurus, Antares for Scorpio and so on. We can give these a 2º.30 -3º orb if they are of the 1st or 2nd magnitude because their effects are strong in that their messages speak to us loud and clear.

We don’t need translation and we are familiar with their archetypes through the popular use of star sign astrology. Stars on the ecliptic are like they are standing in the same room with you, both on the same level. You can hear each other clearly and are speaking the same solar language. The language is down to earth, personality based and focuses on humanities struggle with its own ego.

FOREIGNERS: Then we have some constellations that sit close by the ecliptic, but who are not so familiar to us like Ophuichius, Orion, Corvus and Canis Minor. We can also feel their effects strongly, they might even speak the same language, but then we have to listen more carefully due to foreign accents! Examples Sirius, Fomalhaut, Capella, Ras Alhague, Rigel, Algorab, Algol.

These stars are more complex and we are starting to look at different cultures and ideologies. Just like Neptune, some of these energies can manifest negatively in an un-evolved being, the dangers of addictions and criminal tendencies are strong here especially with Algol and Algorab. These stars I use between 1º 30 -2º orb depending on their magnitude.

ALIENS: After that things get more mysterious and otherworldly. We need a radio to tune into their messages. With these far off stars are at higher latitudes so the orb has to be very tight, just like tuning into an fm station. The general rule for me is, the further off the ecliptic, the tighter the orb needed. But there is also another consideration; What is the consciousness level of the subject with this star? Can they even understand and utilize the energy that is being transmitted down to them?

Difficult stars higher up like Phecda (+47 latitude) could manifest to some ears as garble and noise. The stars could literally drive you mad. This is probably how Phecda’s lower manifestations, like bloodlust and sexual obsession, end up being becoming one of its characteristics. I would give a very, very tight orb to Phecda! Maybe only 15’. Examples of other stars in this category: Phact, Canopus, Toliman, Vega, Polaris, Deneb Adige. Again bare in mind the magnitude. I’d give between 30’ and 55′ (Under a degree) for these.

Decans

I think it is important to join the mythology of the zodiac back up to the sky from where it came. Precession has ripped the constellations off their original bearings. Tropical astrologers now use a system that bears no relation the actual sky co-ordinates. UPDATE: I have now finished my decans book. Here is the article on how to use them and their history. The Zodiac Decans

fixed starsIn modern times astrologers have no need to refer to the sky at all to practice their craft. Very few astrologers nowadays have telescopes, astrology software does the job far better of course, but our connection to the cosmos may have suffered as a consequence.

Ancient cultures had Henges (Such as Stonehenge) which gave a profound connection to the stars and planets through these stone observatories. Rituals of space and time make us self-aware, observers of ourselves and our actions, it makes us accountable. Astrology is religion in the truest sense, it re-links us with everything.

Religare in latin means “to connect”. Religion can also be the tie that binds and constricts, so we must remember the planets incline they do no not compel, we have free will to use the stellar energy to it’s highest or lowest potential. I have started to examine the stars and constellations as they fall into the decans of the zodiac signs.

This has proved very illuminating as I have found there is indeed a connection between the meaning of the fixed stars and the tropical zodiac signs in which they fall. The late Dane Rudhyar actually said that precession should be taken into account when reading the starsign. I do think it is significant when a fixed star changes signs. It’s all synchronistic and symbolic.

Art & Science

The zodiac signs, the constellations and the fixed stars are all part of an evolving universe, nothing is absolute as new memes come into existence. So like we have Venus in Aries, so too we can have tropical Taurus moving through sidereal Aries, tropical Pisces in sidereal Aquarius and so on…

However as we have seen it’s not that simple, there are far more constellations effecting each sign than just one, but Dane has made the connection which I respect. Diana Rosenberg took into account the tropical meaning of the signs in her interpretation of her star sets. I like the thought of re-uniting sidereal with tropical in some way, bringing some astronomy back to astrology. If grouping the fixed stars into decans can do that in some small way then I am happy.

Ptolemy is listed as being an astronomer, astrologer and a mathematician, as if those things were separate. Back in those days they were not. Ancient wisdom has been hacked into separate subjects and the connectivity and magic removed. Take a look at the beautifully illustrated “Book of Fixed Stars” by Ulagh Beg. It is a work of art, not a science manual.

Look at Albrecht Durer, this artist and mathematician produced the first printed maps of the constellations in 1515. I think we are coming full circle now though and I’m hoping astronomy and astrology will start to merge once more. Music is maths and colour has vibration. It’s all linked. Astrology has correspondences in our bodies, in colour, in the chakras and even in musical notes. We are indeed made of stars.

Darkstar’s list of articles on specific fixed stars & constellations. I also provide readings that incorperate the major fixed stars in your birthchart.

26 thoughts on “Using Fixed Stars

  1. Hi, you wrote: Anonymous of 379 BC’s “Treatise On Bright Fixed Stars”
    Just a correction, the text was written in 379 CE (Christian Era), not BC.

  2. Not all Hellenistic Astrologers used the Tropical Zodiac
    when they did, 0 Aries wasn’t used as vernal point
    there have been vernal points in 8,10,12,and 15 Aries

  3. Right Ascension and Declination can be used with fixed stars.
    Conjunction,Opposition in Right Ascension leads to 2 parans that don’t depend on location.

    Astronomers do use Right Ascension and Declination to locate the fixed stars.

  4. I understand that Tropical Zodiac is based on the seasons and the Sidereal Zodiac is based on the stars. In my humble opinion, the Tropical Zodiac is better off with interpretations based on the seasons and The Sidereal Zodiac is better off with interpretations based on the stars. The problem is that Sidereal Zodiac astrologers interpretations based on the seasons even though the Sidereal Zodiac is not season-based. The tropical zodiac interpretations fit only tropical zodiac signs because the tropical zodiac sign characteristics are based off Ptolemy’s seasonal observations which led to the sign rulerships. Western Sidereal Astrologers cannot truly claim to be doing Babylonian Astrology while interpreting Zodiac Signs like the Tropical Astrologers and using the same Greek zodiac names. I would rather use interpretations based on the star-lore and Mesopotamian zodiac names. It’s just simple logic. I don’t see why it’s so complicated.

    I like Western Sidereal Astrologer Kenneth Bowser, but I have seen him get defensive when his astrological system got confused with Vedic Astrology because both systems use the Sidereal Zodiac. Kenneth Bowser countered that he doesn’t do Vedic Astrology and that he does Babylonian Astrology. He’s not doing Babylonian Astrology for he’s using the same names and interpretations in Tropical Zodiac Astrology that were originated by the Greeks and then with sign characteristics for Scorpio, Aquarius, and Pisces seemed to have changed a bit with the discoveries of Pluto, Uranus, and Neptune. I have definitely seen interpretations of Scorpio as bit Martian, Aquarius as bit Saturnian, and Pisces as a bit Jovial in old traditional Astrology and Vedic Astrology.

    Sidereal Zodiac astrologers would preach to me in the past, and I wouldn’t pay them any mind. I just stuck to the Tropical Zodiac. What kept me from following Sidereal Zodiac Astrologers was not my lack of interest in the Sidereal Zodiac and the stars, it was my lack of interest in how it was interpreted and the names being used. I tried to convert to Sidereal Zodiac back in 2012 after reading Cyril Fagan’s books, but my conversion didn’t last long. Even when I did, I was going to use it as just a frame of reference to figure out aspects. After reading about the Mesopotamian star-lore behind the Sidereal Zodiac, I don’t want to just use the Sidereal Zodiac for just frame of reference to figure out aspects. I want to use sign interpretations and they would be from the actual star-lore of the Mesopotamians and not from the seasonal observations of the Greeks and the recent New Age stuff. With good conscience, there is no way I can use the Sidereal Zodiac and interpret the same as other Sidereal Zodiac Astrologers.

    Even though I am Siderealist, I still have the “to each,his/her own” view about Astrology. I don’t think of “right or wrong” in Astrology. I just think of it as matter of preference and what resonates.

  5. ” I feel more connected to the Hellenistic astrologers through my ancestors. I think it’s important to go with what resonates with your own dna.”

    shrugs…I don’t think that works for me

    I am highly multiethnic.

    My father’s ancestry was mostly SubSaharan African.

    His father was a Louisianian African American with some French Creole ancestry.

    His mother was a Louisianian African American with some Acadian (17th Century French settlers in Eastern Canadian Maritime Provinces) and English Virginian Colonial ancestry (17th Century)

    I have some paternal Amerindian chromosome segments.

    My mother’s ancestry is mostly European.

    My mother’s ancestry is very mixed and diverse, and so I have to break it down.

    My maternal grandfather’s paternal grandparents were immigrants from the Cape Verde Islands which belonged to Portugal until 1975. They were of mixed Portuguese and SubSaharan African ancestry. My maternal grandfather’s maternal grandmother’s parents were immigrants from the Madeira Islands that belong to Portugal. My maternal grandfather’s maternal grandmother’s paternal grandfather was from the Azores that belong to Portugal. My maternal grandfather’s maternal grandfather was an immigrant from Puerto Rico. He was of mixed Spanish,African,and Taino ancestry. I suspect that there was Sephardic Jewish ancestry in all the relatives that I mentioned.

    My maternal grandmother was a bit of a Euro-mix. My maternal grandmother’s father was the descendant of American Colonial lines (many family lines came to USA in the 17th Century and 18th Century) from England,Germany (Prussia),Ireland,Scotland,Wal­es,Holland,and Switzerland. There was also supposed to be some Cherokee Nation ancestors, but I don’t know for sure. There are genetic connections to Quebecois French,Acadians,and Danes.

    My maternal grandmother’s mother was Ashkenazi Jewish with a father from Romania and a mother from Riga,Latvia. There are some genetic connections to Eastern Europeans,Swedes,and Finns.

    Genetic studies reveal that Ashkenazi Jews are a mixture of mainly Middle Eastern (mainly from the Levant) and Western Mediterranean (mainly from Italians, Greeks).
    Most of their Y DNA (paternal line) is Middle Eastern.
    Most of their Mitochondria DNA (maternal line) is Mediterranean European.

  6. Yes I went through a stage where I was thinking of going to sidereal since it seemed to make sense with the fixed stars. However after getting deep into traditional astrology I find the seasonal model works best for me. I feel more connected to the Hellenistic astrologers through my ancestors. I think it’s important to go with what resonates with your own dna. Traditional astrologers married the earth to the stars by using the tropical zodiac and pinning the stars to ecliptic. See my re-learning astrology post for why I eventually went with the tropical zodiac.

    At the end of the day I think Astrology is a magical symbolic language so wether you use sidereal or tropical is like using Greek over Latin. You use that which fits to your environment.

    I think it is interesting that the East and the West use symbolism based so much on their geography. In the west with our cloudy skies, the Sun and the seasonal model was of more importance to us probably because we didn’t have the wonderfully clear desert skies of the Middle East.

  7. I use Right Ascension.
    I also use parans like Sidereal Western Astrologer Kenneth Bowser uses. He refers to them as mundane aspects.
    He uses planet-planet parans and not just planet-star parans.

    objects that conjunct or opposite in Right Ascension will have two corresponding parans

    I have Sun conjunct Arcturus in Right Ascension which occurs annually on October 29th which is my birthday
    so a paran of Sun and Arcturus culminating together and a paran of them anti-culminating together

    A person with Sun in opposition to Arcturus in Right Ascension occurs annually on April 26th
    so a paran of Sun culminating while Arcturus anti-culminates and a paran of Sun anti-culminating while Arcturus culminates.

    I recently converted to Sidereal Zodiac that the Babylonians used, but I don’t believe in using the Tropical Zodiac sign interpretations because those stem from the seasons with the mode,element,and ruling planet and not the actual star-lore which had nothing to do with any of that.

    Everybody born on the same day and latitude will not have the same rising star and same culminating star
    it doesn’t work that way
    parans are when two or more objects are simultaneous on angle(s) , and it doesn’t have to be at the moment of the birth,event
    it could be at any time of the day

    objects culminates together,anti-culminates together – conjunction in Right Ascension
    object culminate, the other anti-culminate – opposition in Right Ascension
    objects rises together – conjunction in Oblique Ascension
    objects sets together – conjunction in Oblique Descension
    object rises while the other sets – Oblique Ascension oppose Oblique Descension
    object culminates while the other rises – Right Ascension square Oblique Ascension
    object culminates while the other sets – Right Ascension square Oblique Descension
    object anti-culminates while the other rises – Right Ascension square Oblique Ascension
    object anti-culminates while the other sets – Right Asension square the Oblique Descension

    Robert Hand wrote about in his book, Essays on Astrology
    He works with parans and even uses them with transits.
    He even pointed out his Beltegeuese Rising in Right Ascension over his Sirius conjunct Ascendant in Ecliptic Longitude.

  8. Hi Marina,
    Perhaps another way to understand the fixed stars now is through magnitude/activity rather than just position or in addition to? We can now observe stars and all celestial objects through radio “telescopes” – i.e we build pictures of radiation fields rather than old fashioned opticals which have not given an accurate picture it seems! Even the “red” “blue” shift which is supposed to describe the distance of a star is inaccurate. It seems the colour describes the level of activity – so the brightest blue white objects e.g Sirius are more active than Betelgeuse which is orange.
    The ancients observed stars in their different colours. Even as late as the 6th century CE, the Gallo-Roman chronicler, Gregory of Tours, could label the Dog Star rubeola or ‘reddish’. It is claimed that the earliest unambiguous reference to Sirius as a white star is found in the pages of the Persian astronomer, ‘Abd al-Ra?man al-Suf? (903-986 CE).
    Some stars e.g Monoceros have been observed to change magnitude in as little as half an hour! (that’s half an Earth hour!)

    There is a noted history of recurrent fluctuations, as a white colour for Sirius has occasionally been reported in earlier times. The renowned Chinese historian, S?m? Qi?n (±140-86 BCE), produced an astrological statement to that effect: “When the Wolf (Sirius) changes colour, there will be much piracy and theft.” His western colleague, Hephaestio of Thebes (4th century CE), allowed for a clear variation: “… if Sirius rises bright and white and its appearance shines through, then the Nile will rise high and there will be abundance, but if it rises fiery and reddish there will be war”. Manilius and Avienus, meanwhile, reported a ‘sea-blue’ colour for the star.

    Esoteric astrology says “The sun, Sirius, (they refer to Sirius as the sun of our system, this is not the zodiac) is the source of the Logoic mind (manas) in the same sense as the Pleiades are connected with the evolution of mind in the Seven Heavenly Men (in the Vdeas, the Rishis) and Venus is responsible for the coming in of mind in the Earth chain.”

    From this we get that different stars play huge parts in our evolution. The essence of mind is conveyed through Sirius, the evolution of mind is thorough the Pleiades and the seed is sown by Venus though which mind grows. its a different approach but thinking of the “flower” pattern of Venus’ orb, its description as a rose etc and also the idea of a “fallen’ angel – Lucifer/Venus it makes sense. Fallen shouldn’t be a derogatory term but just mean stepped down on to Earth!

    I wish I could find a comprehendible source for daily conditions of stars rather than just positions! Any ideas??

  9. I am a self taught Astrologer who has been reading chart professionally for almost 22 years. I have always been fascinated with Fixed Stars and started reading abut them. I always use the 4 main Archangel stars in every reading, and am learning more. It is very fascinating. Thanks for bridging ancient and modern it only makes sense that that is the way astrology is evolving these days. Witness the big interest in Vedic Astrology which is of course sidereal. There are others working on bridging and bringing what has been sundered back together again. Yet Western Tropical astrology works too.

    1. very intereresting and inspiring. Although I study for 27 years, I still dont know about the fixed stars!!Iv ever you come to my country, Brazil, Rio de janeiro mayybe we can meet and exchange knowledges. I wish you luck and successfull path.

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