Firmicus Maternus: A skeptic among the stars

Port of Messina, Sicily, Italy

A lawyer turned astrologer turned devout Christian, Firmicus Maternus penned the eight-book Mathesis, one of the lengthiest extant works on Hellenistic astrology in Latin, giving sixteen centuries of readers insight into astrological practices during the Roman Empire.

Vettius Valens: Soldier of Fate

Alexandria in the late 18th century, painting by Luigi Mayer

Know to the Arabs as “Al-Rumi”, Vettius Valens gained near-mythical status in the East while his fame was largely eclipsed by Ptolemy in the West but his Anthologies remains the most important source contemporary readers have for the foundations and techniques of Hellenistic astrology.

2022 March – Saturn heliacal rising

Sunrise on 1st March 2022, New York (astrology chart created at astro.com)

After disappearing below the horizon for six weeks, Saturn will make a heliacal rising early this month in the sign of Aquarius. Read on to learn all the major action happening in the March skies.

Claudius Ptolemy: A Sage Head in the Clouds

A depiction of the Ptolemaic Universe as described in the Planetary Hypotheses by Bartolomeu Velho (1568)

The works of Hellenistic polymath Ptolemy of Alexandria outlined the Western view of the cosmos that would survive until the Copernican revolution and defined the rational-causal view of astrology still largely ascribed to today.

Venus: The Lesser Benefic

Venus, ruler of the signs Libra and Taurus, in her chariot. Maarten de Vos, 1585.

Beauty, pleasure, and love: the incarnation of the Greco-Roman goddess of love, Venus, the Lesser Benefic brings joy to the life of the native if well-placed, and over-indulgence if ill-aligned.

Pisces: The Fish

Pisces - Two fish tethered with a ribbon forming the constellations. Sidney Hall.

Sensitive and spiritually magnanimous, watery Pisces is represented by two fish bound by a cord, representing the duality implicit in this mutable sign.

Leonardo da Vinci Rectification

Rectified birth chart of Leonardo da Vinci. April 14, 1452 JC, 9:32:06 p.m. Ascendant 5SAG4'55"

Mounting the copper orb on Florence Cathedral’s dome, a sodomy charge and a letter from Milan’s ambassador help to ascertain Leonardo da Vinci’s exact birth time.

Hellenistic Astrology: Rationalizing Fate

Artistic Rendering of the Library of Alexandria, based on some archaeological evidence.

Merging Babylonian star worship with indigenous Egyptian astronomy and Greek mathematics and philosophy, Hellenistic astrologers crafted the fourfold technical structure of astrology that weathered two millennia to survive as the foundational elements of modern astrology today.

Mercury: The Messenger

Mercury in his chariot, riding across the heavens.

Speedy and unpredictable, the twinkling planet Mercury has long represented reason, commerce, and the pursuit of knowledge, and is distinct in its openness to the influence of other heavenly bodies.

Mars: The Lesser Malefic

Mars in his chariot. Engraving by J. Sadeler after Maarten de Vos.

Mars, the blood-red warrior, blazes across the night sky, the harbinger of death, destruction, and strife. But the lesser malefic is not all bad: if dignified, the martial planet becomes the protector of the weak, the signifier of a courageous struggle, a victory against all odds that brings many rewards.