In this article, I explain what Ancient Astrology is and why I use this term. I also examine how and why Ancient Astrology differs from Babylonian, Hellenistic, Medieval, Classical, Traditional, Judicial, Renaissance, and Modern Astrology.
What is Ancient Astrology
Ancient Astrology is the fullest development of the original astrological science. It started in Mesopotamia, then passed through Egypt, Ancient Greece, Rome, Persia, the Arabs and Medieval Europe.
One of the reasons I use the term “Ancient Astrology” is because of Fiodor Gruzinev, who titled one of his books “Astrology of the Ancients”. Another reason is to show that by this term is meant pure and authentic Astrology, in its fullest form. As such, I mean a synthesis which is not found in any of the other historical types. I also have in mind the most ancient and powerful techniques, just a tiny bit of which survived past the 2nd century AD.
Difference between Ancient and Classical Astrology
There are astrologers around the world who use the term “classical astrology”. Hearing it, one is left with the impression that these astrologers base their practice on the most influential authors. Therefore, these practitioners are not only familiar with, but use the vast majority of the most powerful astrological approaches and techniques. After all, the name suggests the classics, right? Checking what they use, it becomes clear that these professional astrologers do not know basic concepts. This is a gross mistake and gives incomplete results in their work. As the saying goes: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Therefore, it is good not to be misled by the name of a given “astrology”. As another example, some astrologers, like Lee Lehman, say they practise “classical astrology”, but they are closer to Medieval Astrology and even William Lily.
Why Babylonian Astrology is not Ancient Astrology by itself
There are astrologers who use the term “Babylonian astrology”. That “Babylonian astrology” was “the most ancient astrology,” the purest, the real one, given “from above,”. They say that Astrology degraded after it, and so on. Indeed, Babylonian Astrology is the first and most ancient. The problem is that with some small exceptions, Babylonian Astrology cannot be applied to natal charts. That is, it is insufficient in itself and depends on Hellenistic Astrology. It is the next one that was developed historically. I will not consider Egyptian Astrology, which precedes Hellenistic, because to this day there is little that has survived of it that is applicable.
Hellenistic Astrology is also incomplete
There are astrologers who use the term “Hellenistic astrology”. Hellenistic Astrology is really the mother of all types of horoscopic Astrology – one in which there is an Ascendant/Rising sign, there are houses, essential dignities of the planets and so on. It is a fact that Hellenistic Astrology strongly influenced Indian Astrology called Jyotish (or Vedic). Accordingly, there are astrologers who use the term “Hellenistic astrology” and thus believe that they practice the astrological science in its fullest original form. This is not the case, as there are developments in Ancient Astrology. This brings us to the next, namely the Persian-Arabic, also called Medieval, although the latter also covers parts of European.
Medieval Astrology is incomplete as well
There are astrologers who say they practice “Medieval astrology.” I myself was taught this type of Astrology and so I named my articles at first. Perso-Arabic/Medieval Astrology spans from the 8th to the middle of the 17th century. The problem with Medieval Astrology is that it got detached from Hellenistic and did not inherit major parts of its knowledge. Medieval Astrology contains very few traces of Babylonian. Thus, like the Hellenistic one, it is incomplete. The positive thing here is that it is closest to the way charts are read nowadays, but it is far more complex and demanding.
To what extent Traditional Astrology has preserved the traditions of Ancient Astrology
This brings me to “traditional astrology.” Many astrologers around the world use this term to refer to any astrology practiced until about 1650. This is good in itself. However, when you check the lectures they read, how they read charts and the services they offer, the picture becomes completely different. It is clear that a significant number of astrologers around the world who claim to practice “traditional astrology” have not updated their skills and practice, in line with the ancient astrological works that have been translated in the last 30 years and made available for the first time in centuries. For these astrologers, “traditional astrology” came down to two Arabic astrologers, one Hebrew, and other European authors until the 17th century. The above traditional astrological authors did not have access to the original sources, and although they gave their best, they practiced a rather watered down Astrology.
Judicial and Renaissance Astrology are also watered down
Astrologers practicing what they call “judicial astrology” (which focuses on objective reality and reading people’s destinies) are far fewer in number. This is because the most widely used terms are “traditional” and “classical” and the judicial one belongs to them. From what I have seen, practitioners of “judicial astrology” work in the way of the above two astrologies, namely without taking into account all the knowledge.
Astrologers practicing “Renaissance astrology” mostly use European Renaissance authors. In this way, they work with an even more watered form of Astrology than the “traditional”, “judicial” and “classical”.
Astrologers practicing “Western astrology”, when it comes to non-psychological astrology, write it in this way to show that it is not about Indian Astrology. In most cases, they work with a limited number of methods and techniques and are not familiar with the most important ancient astrological works. Of course, this is only natural. After all, they learned Astrology fro 20th and 19th century authors who had pieces of the knowledge due to themselves learning from astrologers and authors who worked with very watered down Astrology, etc, etc down the past centuries.
Ancient Astrology preserves the totality of the science of the stars
Why do I say that except for Ancient, all other types of Astrology are incomplete?
This is because Ancient Astrology preserves the knowledge of its individual types, which has not been transmitted on to future generations. Equally importantly, all the other types of astrologies are self-contained and hence cut off from the others and incomplete.
My usual thanks to the website as well as the author of the free illustration”
I will start with the different approaches to reading the horoscope.
The Universal approach for reading the chart
The universal approach was developed by Hellenistic Astrology. It deals with life as a while, with eminence, with the general configurations between the planets and so on. This is the most powerful approach in Ancient Astrology, but it is incomplete.
The Accidental approach for reading the chart
The second approach is the accidental one. While it was mentioned by Hellenistic Astrology, it was actually developed by Perso-Arabic astrologers and further developed by European ones. Because the Universal approach did not really survive in European/late Medieval Astrology, they focused on the accidental one. Accordingly, this is the only surviving approach in modern (non-psychological) Astrology – that of houses. A quick example: if the ruler of the 9th house is in the 2nd house, and is a benefic/well-placed planet, then the person will earn financially from travel, foreigners, knowledge and so on.
The Rulers of the Times Approach
Another approach is that of the Rulers of the Times/Chronocractors. It was developed by Babylonian, Hellenistic and Perso-Arabic astrologers and contains many techniques. However, due to the destruction of the majority of astrological sources, the Rulers of the Times Approach was not been transmitted in its entirety to the types of Astrology that followed. Accordingly, less and less of it transmitted afterwards and it disappeared completely in the last 350 years.
The Captain/Kurios/Victor of the chart
Another key concept is that of the Captain/Kurios of the nativity. It was preserved by Porphyry from the 4th century, though it was used by some other earlier astrologers. The Kurios does not seem to have been passed on to the Persian-Arab astrologers and therefore did not reach the European astrologers.
Reception between planets
Another key concept, which is not present in Babylonian and Hellenistic Astrology, is that of reception between planets. It is of paramount importance. While there are delineations for planets in the domiciles and bounds of other planets in Hellenistic Astrology, which constitutes parts of the reception doctrine, it was not yet developed.
What is missing in the other types of Astrology compared to Ancient
Summing it up, what do we have? It turns out that there are “hole/gaps” in the various types of Astrology. The difference is that the ancient astrologers of that time did not have access to the current sources that we have. However, they had other sources that have not survived to this day, or have not been translated. The bottom line is that if previous astrologers had had access to what we have, they would never have ignored that knowledge. On the contrary, their kings/benefactors would have paid with gold and jewels for it. Conversely, the ancient astrological books are so cheap today, they have been translated into English and other languages, are available and yet the vast majority of astrologers not only don’t appreciate them, they haven’t even read them.
In fact, astrologers who practice Babylonian or Hellenistic Astrology work with the incomplete picture because they do not refer (at all or to a sufficient extent) to Perso-Arabic and European. Thus, they do not use (at all or to a sufficient extent) the accidental approach or the doctrine of reception.
Astrologers who practice Medieval Astrology do not refer (sufficiently) to the Hellenistic and Babylonian tradition. Accordingly, they do not use (at all or to a sufficient extent) the Universal approach of the Hellenistic and the doctrine of the Captain.
The overwhelming majority of the astrologers in the world today who practise Hellenistic, Medieval or Traditional Astrology use the approximation of 15 degrees around the Sun for planetary visibility. Not only is that completely wrong, but they do not even know that it is wrong. From what I know only in Bulgaria, thanks to Rumen Kolev, and in Italy are astrologers aware of the fact about the true/astronomical visibility of the planets, which comes from Babylonian Astrology.
Also, if one carefully reads the survived Hellenistic delineations of actual charts and compares them to the survived delineations of Medieval charts, they will notice significant differences. Thus, if an astrologer practices either Hellenistic, Medieval or Traditional Astrology on its own, and follows the textbooks, they will be at a disadvantage compared to one who has synthesized these two, because they are getting only a partial picture.
Astrologers who practice Traditional Astrology do not use the Universal approach and use the Rulers of the Times Approach only to a limited extent. They do not use the doctrine of the Captain, but replace it with another, incomplete one (Ibn Ezra).
Astrologers who practice Renaissance Astrology do not use the Universal approach. They are also unaware of key concepts, as were not transmitted to the authors on whom they are based. For example, they do not use the doctrine of the Captain, but replace it with another, even more incomplete than that of the traditionalists (Lily). On the other hand, they emphasize the calculation of temperament. This is a doctrine of great importance for classical medicine, used by Hippocrates, Galen, Avicenna and all other physicians at least until the end of the 17th century. The doctrine of temperament, of course, is at the core of Traditional Medicine in India in China, but it is slightly different. The temperament doctrine is also very important in Ancient Astrology.
Attention: most astrologers add external beliefs and theories to their practice, presenting it as ancient/classical/traditional
It is very important to point out that most astrologers around the world, who claim to practice Babylonian, Hellenistic, Ancient, Classical or Traditional Astrology, actually introduce Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, asteroids, small aspects, psychology, beliefs and theories of karma, collective spiritual evolution, the teachings of Peter Deunov/Beinsa Douno, Rudolf Steiner and the like.
In this way, this gives layer upon layer of hotchpotch, in which the astrologer’s personal beliefs not only distort and blur the focus of the information provided by the astrological science. The clients who sought out such astrologers are left with the impression that the information and guidance they receive is authentic Astrology. Obviously, it is not.
It is time I answered the question posed at the beginning, namely how Ancient Astrology differs from the other types of Astrology I listed.
What Ancient Astrology includes
The Ancient Astrology, which I practice, is the only one that encompasses the full development of astrological science, through all time periods, continents and languages. That is, Ancient Astrology encompasses the most original and key concepts of Babylonian, Hellenistic, Classical, Persian-Arabic, Medieval, and Renaissance Astrology. From the visibility and heliacal phases, to the Universal approach, the many Rulers of the Times, the Oikodespotes and Kurios, reception, the Accidental approach, the derivative houses, temperament and much more.
In other words, Ancient Astrology uses the best of all available sources, but is based on central, eternal principles. It is pure and authentic Astrology, free of psychology, devoid of karma and other unproven beliefs.
Ancient Astrology, though in its incomplete form, was studied and practised by Queen Catherine de Medici, Michel Nostradamus, John Dee, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Giordano Bruno, Jean Baptiste Morin, Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei and many others.
The importance of knowing that the ancient works are deliberately incomplete
One last thing: the ancient astrological authors wrote their books for their students. In other words, the astrologers only sketched the fundamentals. The classical astrological works are not meant to be a complete guide and they also contain errors, some of which I say are deliberate.
Astrology is infinite. There are many exceptions, some of which are just hinted, while others are mentioned in a cryptic manner or are simply not listed. The reason is because the author did not know about them. Therefore if someone follows the rules blindly, they will continually face dead ends because the ancient astrological texts do not say or exemplify what to do when this happens.
Also, by Ancient Astrology I do not mean the textbooks themselves. I mean the knowledge they contain and hint at, the spirit of the Eternal. I need to clarify this because there are rigid astrologers and teachers who take these as gospels, and I don’t do that. I have tremendous respect for the ancient astrologers, but Astrology lives on and one must exercise discretion with these texts.
Ancient Astrology continues and as long as I stay true to the fundamental principles, which are eternal and do not change, what I am practising in the 21st century is just as ancient and authentic as those astrologers. The astrological axioms were discovered long ago and there is no need for one to try and be creative by reinventing the wheel. One only needs to unlearn and open their hearts and minds to this timeless Knowledge.