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

Ptolemy’s tables were in use for an incredible 1000 years, but fixed star astrology fell out of favour during the uprise of Christianity. Ptolemys 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. His 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 BC’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.

fixed-stars1I 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.

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26 thoughts on “Using Fixed Stars

  1. ” 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.

  2. 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.

  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.

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