Fixed Stars

by Olivia Barclay, Q.H.P.

An article from Olivia Barclay's "Horary Astrology Rediscovered" (Whitford Press).

"The Fixed Stares give great gifts and Elevate even from Poverty to an extreme height of Fortune, the Seven Planets do not so." (*1)

The fixed stars have always been the means by which we measure our position in the Universe. They were first categorized by their colour and were associated with the characteristics of the planets thereby.

They were named according to their effects and most of the names we know are Arabic in origin.

A fixed star in conjunction with a planet of the same character greatly emphasizes the qualities of that planet. (*2) If the star is of contrary nature it will hinder the planet.

The effects of the fixed star are long-lasting and slow, thus the stars are inappropriate for judging passing matters, certainly they are not for ephemeral domestic horary questions, and probably not even for nativities. Their use in nativities is, in any case, undesirable because of the stark interpretations that can be attracted to these stars, except when they appear on the Ascendant. They were used for the foundation of buildings or towns. Dee used Regulus in the chart for the Coronation of Elizabeth I. Flamsteed used it for establishing Greenwich. Malefic stars were conspicuous at the launch of the Titanic and the Space Shuttle. Therefore they should always be considered in Mundane astrology, events, and at the times of eclipses especially when they conjunct the eclipse or important significators or angles. Similarly, the are considered at Ingresses and Great Conjunctions.

Many people have told me they do not use fixed stars in interpretations because there are so many, but we consider only a few, far fewer than Ptolemy listed. Ptolemly described for us the ancient arrangements of the constellations, where each constellation in itself had significance. For instance, Argo affected shipping, Cygnus and Aquila influenced birds, as did Virgo and Sagittarius, which were both winged signs. Cancer and the Dolphin affected the sea, and Perseus influenced humanity. (*3) Unfortunately Algol is in Perseus.

The constellations Ptolemy knew did not encompass all stars. There were some outside any constellation and they were called "scattered." Ptolemy described the stars within the constellations giving their position and characteristics. (*4)

Modern astronomers have rectified the shapes of the constellations to make them neater, and tidied up the old arrangements to include all the stars. This has been disastrous for interpretation since stars of deffering properties are now contained in one modern constellation. Moreover, these astronomers have changed the names not only of the stars but of the constellations. This means it is extremely difficult to identify some of the stars named in antiquity. George Noonan, who is an expert on Ptolemy, has written a book that will identify the Ptolemaic constellations and stars with the modern names and enumerations of today's astronomers. (*5)

When reading old books remember that the precession of the equinoxes has moved the tropical zodiac over the position of the fixed stars, so that they appear to have moved at a rate of about 50 seconds a year, whereas Algol was at 20 Taurus at the time of Lilly it is now at 25 55'. Apart from their movement against the zodiac, fixed stars do have a slight movement of their own, one toward another, but this is slight and of astronomical interest only. (*6) Stars vary in brightness, and since the brightest are those that have a strong effect on Earthy life, perhaps their influence varies from century to century.

One problem astrologers must deal with, and about which they have various opinions, concerns the distance a star is from the ecliptic. Some stars have great celestial latitude. Ebertin suggests it makes no difference (*7), other astrologers think it does. I follow Ebertin.

Lilly used only about forty fixed stars and found that number adequate. You can use an orb of one degree if it is a powerful star in a powerful place, but usually half a degree is sufficient.

Among the brightest stars in the sky are Regulus, Arcturus, Sirius, and Aldebaran. All of them are Suns -- a concept beyond the imagination.

(*1) William Lilly, Christian Astrology (London: Regulus Publishing Co. Ltd., reprinted 1985), p.621. Originally published 1647.
(*2) Guido Bonatus, Anima Astrologiae, trans. Henry Coley, 1675 (Washington, DC: The American Federation of Astrologers, reprinted 1970), 9th Consideration.
(*3) Claudius Prolemy, Tetrabiblos, Loeb ed., trans. F.E. Robbins, Ph.D. (London: William Heinemann, Ltd., and Cambrideg, MA: Harvard University Press, reprinted 1980), Book 2.7.
(*4) Ibid., p.47.
(*5) George C. Noonan, Fixed Stars and Judicial Astrology.
(*6) Vivian E. Robson, Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology (York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1984), p.13.
(*7) Ebertin-Hoffman, Fixed Stars and their Interpretation, trans. Irmgard Banks (Tempe, AZ: The American Federation of Astrologers, 1971), p.11. Note: I use this book.

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