Astrology Through the Ages

Astrology Before Modernity

© Copyright Terry MacKinnell 2014, 2017 Under the Berne Convention


In this paper I am going to provide an analysis of the fortunes of horoscopic astrology using some specific types of sub-periods of the astrological ages.  While there can be many different viewpoints on the fortunes of astrology, the viewpoint from the sub-periods of the ages provides amazing clarity, but nevertheless does not monopolize the field, as each different view will provide some unique insight.

Horoscopic astrology’s honeymoon period was the first two centuries AD culminating with Claudius Ptolemy and Vettius Valens. Its momentum continued into the following centuries but with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century and the growing political strength of the Roman Catholic Church, interest in astrology subsided and opposition rose.  In the 8th century astrology experienced a period of revival, especially in the new Islamic ‘empire’.  This new impetus lasted for around 150 years.

This cyclic activity is a microcosm of a repetitive cycle that dominates the fortunes of astrology.  It also existed before the advent of horoscopic astrology with developments in ancient pre-horoscopic astrology. Situated at the beginning of the 21st century, astrology is once again in a period equivalent to the beginning of the first two centuries AD.  We have not yet reached the stage equivalent to Claudius Ptolemy and Vettius Valens – that is due in the period 2074 to 2148, but in the meantime, horoscopic astrology is in an ascending curve.

The focus in this research is on how the passage of the astrological ages correlates to the changing fortunes of astrology utilizing the sub-periods of the astrological ages – specifically the 1/12th division of the ages into sub-ages, and the respective division of sub-ages into three sub-age decans. The purpose of this research is not to provide another history of astrology, of which there are many available, but to show another perspective that is concise enough to make accurate predictions about the future of astrology.  The sub-periods of the astrological ages I use are actually based on a very old method of dividing each zodiacal sign in to 12 parts.  This twelve-fold division is usually called after the Vedic name of ‘dwadasamsa’ (often abbreviated to ‘dwad’) but the Hellenistic astrologers usually called them ‘dodecatemories’ (which however could also refer to various other divisions due to lack of uniformity by early astrologers).  It is believed that the early Hellenistic astrologers sourced the twelve-fold division of each zodiacal signs from the earlier Babylonian astrologers.

The positive fortunes of astrology are directly and clearly linked to specific sub-ages and sub-age decans in a musical “di-di-dah” format.  The first two beats are created by Cancer and Scorpio in any order.  About every 720 years, a new sub-age appears ruled by a Water sign.  Each Water sub-age will have at a minimum, two sub-age decans assigned to Cancer and Scorpio but for two-thirds of the Water sub-ages encountered, either Cancer or Scorpio will also be the parent sub-age.  Following each Water sub-age is usually an Air sub-age and each Air sub-age will either be Aquarius, or contain an Aquarius sub-age decan.  Aquarius provides the final ‘dah’ note.  About every 720 years this beat appears and astrology is first reinvigorated and then flourishes.

The following Table 1 displays all the sub-ages with age-decans and ages since the beginning of the Pisces age:

Date Age Date Age-Decan Date Sub-Age
732 BC Pisces 732 BC Scorpio -732 Aquarius
-551 Capricorn
-370 Sagittarius
-189 Scorpio
8 BC Cancer 8 BC Libra
173 Virgo
353 Leo
533 Cancer
713 AD Pisces 713 AD Gemini
894 Taurus
1073 Aries
1253 Pisces
1433 Aquarius 1433 Libra 1433 Capricorn
1612 Sagittarius
1791 Scorpio
1970 Libra
2148 Gemini 2148 Virgo

Table 1

This di-di-dah beat happened about 2,000 years ago with the flourishing of Hellenistic astrology, and reappeared in the 8th century with the Islamic revival of astrology.  If you refer to Table 1 above, you will notice that we are in the middle of another di-di-dah beat in the early 21st century.

The beginning of the Pisces age in 732 BC commenced with the Aquarius sub-age (732 – 551 BC), plus the Aquarius sub-age overflow (561 – 370 BC).  All ages and associated sub-periods behave like a formative period which then goes on an excels and propagates in the immediate following period of the same type.  For example, The Scorpio age decan (732 BC – 8 BC) of the Pisces age (732 BC – 1433 AD) demonstrates its greatest effect in the following Cancer age-decan (8 BC – 713 AD), and when focusing upon Scorpio, the Cancer age-decan can be called the Scorpio age-decan overflow.  (For more details on the mechanics of the astrological ages refer to “The Age of Aquarius for Dummies” or conceptualize a multi-layered onion).

The previous sub-age to the Aquarius sub-age was the last sub-age of the Aries age (c.2916 – 732 BC) – the Aries sub-age (c.913-732 BC) as the last sub-age of any age is always the same sign as its parent.  Due to the ‘missing’ sign at the cusp of ages, there was no water (Pisces) sub-age.  This is the only time in the 26,000 year cycle of the ages that a Pisces sub-age does not following an Aries sub-age with Cancer and Scorpio sub-age decans within the Pisces sub-age.  However, the first age decan of the Pisces age is the Scorpio age-decan (732 – 8 BC) so even in this idiosyncratic Aquarius sub-age, it still has at least Scorpio to comfort it even if sitting in the background. It is this Aquarius sub-age overflow (551-370 BC) that horoscopic astrology first appeared, on a sole “dah” note!  The overflow of any period is stronger than its own period.

Table 2 displays all sub-ages and their sub-age overflows since the beginning of the Pisces age in 732 BC:

Date Sub-Age Sub-Age Overflow
-732 Aquarius Aries
-551 Capricorn Aquarius
-370 Sagittarius Capricorn
-189 Scorpio Sagittarius
8 BC Libra Scorpio
173 AD Virgo Libra
353 Leo Virgo
533 Cancer Leo
713 Gemini Cancer
894 Taurus Gemini
1073 Aries Taurus
1253 Pisces Aries
1433 Capricorn Pisces
1612 Sagittarius Capricorn
1791 Scorpio Sagittarius
1970 Libra Scorpio
2148 Virgo Libra

Table 2 – Sub-ages and overflow periods

Babylonian Horoscopes

The earliest known horoscope is dated to April 410 BC in Babylon.[1]  The year 410 BC is located in an Aquarius sub-age overflow (551-370 BC).  The first probable reference to have been made to the divinatory side of these early Babylonian horoscopes is believed to have been made by the Greek Theophrastus (c.372-280 BC).[2]

Hellenistic Astrology – Early Formative Period

Hellenistic astrology was apparently developed over the last two centuries BC through the hybridization of Babylonian and Egyptian astrology and techniques.  The main contribution by Egyptian astrology appears to be the addition of astrological houses derived from their observations of the rising of decan stars.   Hipparchus (c.190-120 BC) invented the tropical zodiac somewhere around 125 BC when he discovered precession of the equinoxes (for the ancient Greeks at least) but the newly invented tropical zodiac was not utilized by astrologers for many centuries as the Hellenistic astrologers continued to use the sidereal (fixed) zodiac.[3]  The earliest known or referenced chart utilizing an ascendant is in 62 or 61 BC though some claim possibly a decade earlier but fully developed modern house structure was delayed for some time.  In Hipparchus’ lifetime, horoscopes did not appear any more developed than the Babylonian form.  For example, the question of houses remained unsettled – early house structure often showed first only four then eight houses.[4]

Hipparchus however is believed to have popularized astrology[5] and so much of Hellenistic astrology must have been developed between approximately 125 and 61 BC. Therefore the first appearance of Hellenistic astrology takes place in the Scorpio sub-age (c.189-8 BC) and its Cancer sub-age decan ruling between 189 – 129 BC.  Cancer then moves into its more powerful overflow mode between 129 – 69 BC.  This tightly coincides with the time frame allotted for the development of Hellenistic astrology (i.e. 125-61 BC) by one or more unknown astrologers referred to by later astrologers cryptically as Hermes, Aesculapius, Nechepso, Petosiris and Abram possibly sometime in the late 2nd century BC or early 1st century BC.[6]

The earliest text on Hellenistic astrology is believed to have been written by Hermes Trismegistus, which was passed onto and expanded by Asclepius followed by two more astrologers – Nechepso and Petosiris – with all employing pen-names (pseudepigrapha) to hide their real identities.[7]  This is appropriate for archetypes associated with Cancer because Cancer is strongly associated with being out of the public eye – a positive trait of Cancer’s opposite sign Capricorn.

The core of Hellenistic astrology was developed under the auspices of Scorpio on the sub-age level and most likely Cancer on the sub-age decan level, especially in their respective overflow periods.  This is the di-di beat.  The only astrologer I could find in this period who can be identified is the Roman scholar Publius Nigidius Figulus (c. 98 – 45 BC), who was a friend of Cicero.  He had a wide range of intellectual interests, especially in esoteric areas and wrote a number of books involving astrology and it is believed he was interested in both the Etruscan and Egyptian astrological heritages.[8]  Astrology by the 1st century BC must have made an impact as the Roman elite, of which Figulus was a member, were attracted to it.  The Roman general and politician Lucius Cornelius Sulla (138-78 BC) was an enthusiastic supporter of astrology and trusted his horoscope[9]

It is astrologically relevant that the birth and development of Hellenistic astrology is hidden with most key players unknown due to the archetypes associated with the two key operative signs – Cancer and Scorpio.  Cancer is anti-status, and Scorpio is hidden and rules the underground.   Aggregating this with Aquarius, the sign that avoids the (Leo) limelight, suggests that astrology will always be in the shadows to a certain extent as astrology does not have a solid sign associated with it.  Furthermore Cancer is cyclical, and Aquarius is erratic which also suggests that the fortunes of astrology will swing wildly over time and will rarely be incorporated in the mainstream of society, and if it is incorporated in the mainstream of society, it will be for only a short time in historical terms.  The last 2,000 years history of astrology supports this.

Consolidation Period

The Scorpio sub-age overflow (c.8 BC-173 AD) sees an even stronger continuation of horoscopic astrology based purely on the number of  publications of Hellenistic astrological works from many astrologers, with most Hellenistic astrologers speaking and writing in Greek. The poet Marcus Manilius (1st century AD) was renowned for being the first Hellenistic astrologer to have his work survive in modern times. Manilius wrote in verse and referred to the ages as:

“And the long ages are assigned a predestined course of events”[10]

He was also the first astrologer to write about houses – evidence for the use of modern houses commenced only around 20 BC.[11] Manilius was not popular among the astrologers who followed him and his astrology was idiosyncratic and his approach to houses was embryonic.  Hellenistic astrologers generally employed a twelve-fold division of each 30 degree sign into 12 dodocomateria of 2 ½ degrees each while Manilius’ dodocomateria were only ½ degree each.  It is these 2 ½ degrees dodocomateria that create sub-ages when applied to astrological ages.

A brief tour of the astrologers of the 1st and second century AD is indicative of astrology’s zenith at the time:

  • Thrasyllus of Mendes or Alexandria (his life straddled 1 AD), an Egyptian Greek, and personal friend of Emperor Tiberius and the Court Astrologer – it is believed he predicted the rise of Caligula to Emperor.[12]
  • Critodemus was probably a contemporary of Thrasyllus and was referred to by Pliny and Vettius Valens.[13]
  • There are no extant writings from Antiochus of Athens (c.2nd century AD) but he was extensively quoted by later writers and is credited to providing one of the earliest references to reception.[14]
  • Dorotheus of Sidon (c.75 AD) was most likely a resident of Alexandria, Egypt and he has provided one of the best sources of Hellenistic astrology via later Arabic translations of his works and consequently he had great influence on later Christian, Persian, Arab and medieval astrologers.
  • Manetho (b.80 AD) is famous as the author of the poem Prognostics with the material sourced from Dorotheus.[15]

Situated at the end of this Scorpio sub-age overflow (8BC – 173 AD) are the works of Ptolemy and Valens:

  • Vettius Valens (120-c.175 AD) is our major source of literary horoscopes from his ten volumes Anthology probably written somewhere between 150 to 175 AD. Valens included over a hundred sample charts in the Anthology. The Anthology is the most copied ancient work on astrology.
  • Claudius Ptolemy (c.90 – c.168) was “a pro-astrological authority of the highest magnitude” and author of the Tetrabiblos.  The Tetrabiblos became the astrological authority for over 1,000 years but he was little known in his own time. Ptolemy collected most of his material from earlier sources but his systematic way of presenting the material stood him in good stead for a long time[16] even if he presented a simplified version of astrology and it is unlikely he was a practicing astrologer.[17]

Claudius Ptolemy was the most famous of ancient astrologers in later times and there is a corresponding astrological reason.  The Scorpio sub-age overflow is the same time-frame as the Libra sub-age and the last two thirds of the Scorpio sub-age overflow/Libra sub-age  (8 BC – 173 AD)

Early Baroque artist’s rendition of Claudius Ptolemy

was the Aquarius sub-age decan and overflow (52-112-173).  Ptolemy’s publications most likely occurred in the Aquarius sub-age decan overflow (1121-173 AD).  Combining the Scorpio sub-age overflow with the Aquarius sub-age decan overflow conjuncts two periods that are extremely favorable to astrology.  This is supported by the fact that the 2nd century AD provided the most significant sources for horoscopic astrology for later centuries compared to earlier and later periods.[18]

This Scorpio sub-age and Aquarius sub-age decan overflow ends with the translation of Yavanajataka into Sanskrit in 149-150 AD – the earliest known Sanskrit work referencing western horoscopic practices.  The Yavanajataka contains instructions on calculating horoscopes thus allowing the transmission of Hellenistic astrology to India into what was ultimately melded with indigenous sidereal astrology to form Vedic astrology (despite vehement protestations by most contemporary Vedic astrologers). Although Hellenistic astrology was formed in the Scorpio sub-age proper, we see from the spurt in Hellenistic astrology in the early centuries of the 1st millennium that it powered ahead and dispersed under the Scorpio sub-age overflow and Aquarius sub-age decan and overflow which is a classic example of the Overflow Effect.  This ends the major di-di-dah beat that powers astrology through the ages.

Late Roman Period

Following the heyday of Hellenistic astrology between 125 BC and c.173 AD coinciding with the end of the Scorpio sub-age overflow, the noteworthy or known works on Hellenistic astrology slowed down considerably.

Three astrologers stand out in this period:

  • Paulus Alexandrinus’ extant work, Introductory Matters (378 AD), included major topics in astrology as practiced in the fourth century Roman Empire.[19]
  • Hephaestion of Thebes published Apotelesmatics around 415 AD apparently in an attempt to synthesize the earlier works Dorotheus of Sidon, Claudius Ptolemy and Antiochus of Athens but he had little impact on the later Arabic astrologers.[20]
  • Julius Firmicus Maternus was the author of Eight Books of Astrology (c.334-37) comprising the most extensive surviving text of Roman astrology and the last surviving work on astrology written in Latin of any relevance.[21] [22]

These astrologers in general were not charting new courses for astrology but reworking Hellenistic astrology from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD thus cementing the influence of astrology’s former di-di-dah beat.

Post Roman Revival

The next di-di-dah beat is associated with the Cancer sub-age and overflow (533-713-894) including the Aquarius sub-age decan and overflow (713-773-832 AD) with the most potent period associated with the overlap of the Cancer sub-age overflow and Aquarius sub-age decan overflow (773-832 AD). However, the Cancer micro-age covers the same time frame as the Leo sub-age overflow, and Leo is archetypally opposite to Aquarius. Under Leo, astrology is threatened.  Therefore the Cancer sub-age (excluding its overflow period) shows an overpowering Leo influence marshaling its forces against astrology, but with an emergent Cancer breathing new life into astrology.  This is exactly what occurred.

With the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century astrology virtually disappeared in the West but the arrival of the Cancer sub-age (c.533-713 AD) seemed to reinvigorate astrology elsewhere:

  • The Greek Rhetorius of Egypt (6th or early 7th centuries AD) wrote an extensive compendium on the works of earlier astrologers and he provided a link from the earlier Hellenistic astrologers to the Arab and medieval practices that followed.[23]
  • Olympiodorus the Younger (c. 495 – 570) survived the persecutions by many of his associates in Alexandria despite being a pagan of the Platonist tradition in a world where Christianity had a stranglehold on intellectual endeavors.  He is accredited with publishing a commentary on Paulus Alexandrinus’ Introduction to Astrology but he probably only complied a series of lectures in 564 AD which were later published.[24]
  • Another example is the 6th century John the Lydian, a Byzantine administrator in Constantinople who also conserved the old Alexandrian doctrines of astrology.[25] [26]

The Sasanian king Kusro Anushirwan created a virtual astrological renaissance in his reign 531-579 coinciding tightly with the start of the Cancer sub-age in 533.  Key astrological texts were retranslated or revised and used by the later Islamic astrologers.  We also see some other developments – Julian of Laodicea (early 6th century) and the writing of `Pancasiddhantika’ and `Brhadyatra’ in the mid-6th century.  This Post-Roman Revival did not forge new ground, but reworked or promoted material from much older Hellenistic astrologers.

Islamic Revival

It is in the Cancer sub-age overflow period (c.713 – 894) that the full-fledged rebirth of Hellenistic astrology and techniques occurred.  Commencing in 762 AD, Baghdad became an Islamic center for astrology with a much effort put towards securing and translating astrological

Study of the moon and stars. Ottoman miniature from 17th century. Istanbul University Library

texts from a wide range of sources.  In this Cancer overflow period we have Theophilus of Edessa (late 8th century), Masha’allah (770-815 AD), Omar of Tiberias (d.815 AD),  Zahel (d. 822-850), Abu `Ali al-Khayyat (c.854), Al-Farghani (d.863+), Al-Kind- (d.870+) and Albumasar  (Abu Ma’shar (787-886).  As this list indicates, nearly all of the most notable Islamic astrologers appeared in this Cancer sub-age overflow.  It is also notable that similar to its formative period, that the highly observable resurgence of Hellenistic astrology took place in a Cancer overflow period, not in the Cancer period proper.

The first two-thirds of this Cancer sub-age overflow coincide with an Aquarius sub-age decan and overflow (713-773-833 AD) where two astrologers stand out – Masha’allah and Albumasar:

  • Masha’allah (740 – 815 AD) in his early 20’s worked with a group of astrologers to pick an electional horoscope for the founding of the city of Bagdad.  He was familiar with both Persian and Indian astrology and became an authoritative source both in the Islamic world and Western Europeans.  He was interested in mundane astrology and developed a cosmological model that incorporated precession of the equinoxes but he is mostly known for pioneering the idea that the conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter predict important mundane events. He was the leading astrologer in the late 8th century.[27] [28]
  • Albumasar (c.787-886) was a master astrologer and the most imposing astrologer of this period with an encyclopaedic knowledge of astrology and the author of around 50 books.  His two greatest books were The Great Introduction (to astrology) and The Great Conjunctions with a special focus upon Jupiter and Saturn.  He wrote extensively on mundane astrology including a book on Aries ingresses, possibly the earliest known book on solar returns, used dodecatemories (for both signs and houses).  It is believed that Albumasar was introduced to astrology by Al-Kindi (c.796-873).
  • Al-Kindi wrote hundreds of books including astrology and his two most famous astrological texts are The Judgments of the Stars and Rains, Storms and Winds, and Change in the Air.[29]

Islamic astrologers continued to write books following this period with the more famous ones being Alchabitius (d.967), Al-Biruni (973-c.1048), a universal astrology similar to Ptolemy, and finally Haly Abenrudian (988-c.1067).  The Jewish scholar Abraham Ibn Ezra (c.1089-1167) wrote more than 50 books on astronomy and astrology

Medieval Renaissance

The next appearance of Cancer and Scorpio is in the Pisces sub-age (c.1253-1433). This is the last sub-age in the Pisces age (c.732 BC – 1433 AD).  However the previous century (i.e. the 12th century) saw a frenzied period of translation from Arabic into Latin of many astrological works.  Even India was the recipient of Arabic astrological texts in the first half of the 13th century.

The towering figure of Bonatti waited appropriately until the Scorpio sub-age decan (c.1253-1313) of the Pisces sub-age (c.1253-1433).  Guido Bonnatti’s (c.1210-1290) work Liber Astronomiae (Book of Introduction to the Judgement of the Stars) appears not in the Scorpio sub-age decan overflow but in the Scorpio sub-age decan proper.  This coincides with the original appearance of Hellenistic astrology in the Scorpio sub-age proper (c.189-8 BC).  Also in the Scorpio sub-age decan is Leopold of Austria’s compendium of astrology towards the late 1200’s.

The second sub-age decan of the Pisces sub-age is the Cancer sub-age decan (c.1313-1373) and its overflow is c.1373-1433.  Nothing is found in the Cancer period proper but in the Cancer sub-age decan overflow c.1373-1433 is Eleutherius Zebelenus of Elis’ critical revision of earlier astrological texts in the late 1300’s and the English astrologer John of Ashenden (d.1379) who was `strongly influenced by Abu Ma’shar’[1]

From the late 2nd century and early 1st century BC under Scorpio and Cancer we see the development of Hellenistic astrology with its greatest achievement found in the Aquarius sub-age decan.  The Cancer sub-age overflow (c.713-894) coincided with the Islamic revival of Hellenistic astrology.  Jumping forward to the medieval revival in the Pisces sub-age with its Scorpio and Cancer sub-age decans we find Bonnatti in the Scorpio sub-age decan proper and some astrological activity in the Cancer sub-age decan overflow.  The next appearance of a Water sub-age with its Scorpio and Cancer influence is the Scorpio sub-age (1791-1970) and overflow (1970 – 2148) in modern times.

According to Rex E Bills, astrology is only strongly related to Aquarius (and Uranus)[30] but my research indicates two other signs at a minimum are strongly associated with astrology, Scorpio and Cancer. Structurally, Scorpio has some support from Vedic astrology where the 8th house is assigned to astrology,[31] with Scorpio the natural ruler of the 8th house.

Astrology in Ancient Times

The details of the appearance of astrology are lost in the fog of history, though ‘forensic’ research provides insights into the thinking and understanding of ancient scholars. Suggestions implicating the ancient existence of proto-astrology are found as early as the 22nd century BC.  Tamsyn Barton reports on a document dated 2122 to 2102 BC in Mesopotamia (Iraq) in which a reference was made to a female deity shown examining a clay tablet depicting the constellations to ensure that a proposed temple was built according to the stars.[32]  This time-frame occurs in a Scorpio sub-age (2188-2006 BC).  Non-horoscopic astrology was also known in Ancient Egypt where, as early as 2100 BC, representation of the 36 constellations (decans) are first noted though not necessarily with any astrological connotations.[33]  This also occurs in the same Scorpio sub-age (2188-2006 BC).

Numerous proto-astrological references occur throughout much of the 2nd millennium BC at a time when astronomy and proto-astrology were inseparable but without accurate dating and sources it does not assist in clarifying relationships between developments in astrology with various sub-ages and their respective decans.  One interesting observation in this millennium is from Gavin White, who reports on the earliest known predictions of the destiny of children based on their month of birth.  This is sourced to the ancient Hittite capital in the 13th century BC.[34]  This time-frame (1200-1299 BC) coincides with a Cancer sub-age and overflow (1460-1278-1096 BC) plus possibly an Aquarius sub-age decan (1278-1217 BC).  White states that the style of these birth predictions suggests they were borrowed from Babylonia.

Another possible very early reference is the Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa, one of earliest known Indian text on astronomy and astrology.  Included in it is a description of the winter solstice c.1400 BC but unfortunately its publication date is guesswork – probably in the range 1370 to 1150 BC.[35]  This coincides with a Cancer sub-age decan and overflow (1460-1278-1187).

Table 3 correlates important milestones in the history of astrology aligned to the relevant sub-ages or sub-age decans.

Astrologer / Event

Period Scorpio Scorpio O/f Cancer Cancer O/f Aquarius Aquarius O/f
Ancient Times
Constellation on a clay tablet 2122 to 2102 BC x
Destiny of children 1200-1299 BC ? ? ?
First Babylonian Horoscope 410 BC x
Early Formative Period
Hipparchus c.125 BC x



Development of Hellenistic Astrology 125-61 BC x



Consolidation Period
Marcus Manilius 1st century AD x
Thrasyllus of Mendes 1st centuries BC & AD ? x
Critodemus 1st century? x ?
Antiochus of Athens 2nd century AD? x ? ?
Dorotheus of Sidon c.75 AD x x ?
Manetho b.80 AD x x ?
Vettius Valens 120 – c.175 AD x x
Ptolemy c.90 – 168 AD x x
Translation of Yavanajataka into Sanskrit c.149-150 AD x x
Post Roman Revival
Rhetorius of Egypt 6th or early 7th centuries ? ? x ?
Olympiodorus c. 495 – 570 x
John the Lydian 6th century x
Islamic Revival
Kusro Anushirwan astrological renaissance 531-579 x
Julian of Laodicea Early 500’s x
`Pancasiddhantika’ and `Brhadyatra’ Mid 500’s x
Theophilus of Edessa 695-785 x x
Masha’allah 770-815 x x
Omar of Tiberias d.815 x x
Abu Bakr Early 800’s x x
Zahel d. 822-850 x ?
Abu `Ali al-Khayyat c.854 x
Al-Farghani d.863+ x
Al-Kind d.870+ x
Albumasar 787 – 886 x x
Stephanus the Philosopher x
Medieval Revival
Bonatti c.1210-1290 x
Leopold of Austria Late 1200’s x
Eleutherius Zebelenus of Elis Late 1300’s x
John of Ashenden d.1379


Table 3


Based on the above analysis and table, a very tight relationship exists between the expansion of astrology with the two water signs of Scorpio and Cancer with the addition of the air sign of Aquarius.  James Holden was one of the first modern astrologers to research ancient astrology in detail.  In A History of Horoscopic Astrology he developed a periodization scheme for horoscopic astrology.  Holden was totally unaware of my sub-age schemata but his periodization dovetails perfectly with my schemata based on Cancer, Scorpio and Aquarius sub-ages and sub-age decans.

Following are Holden’s periods:

  1. In the First Period “… between the 7th and 5th (or perhaps as late as the 4th) century the Babylonians developed the concept of natal astrology”[36] with the development of the first known embryonic horoscope. This corresponds to my Aquarius sub-age and overflow (732 – 551 – 370 BC) within the Scorpio age decan (732 BC – 8 BC) of the Pisces age.
  2. Holden’s Second Period of Astrology begins with the Hellenistic astrologers and the claim that Hellenistic astrology commenced in the (late) 2nd century BC.  This period is aligned with both the Scorpio sub-age (189 – 8 BC) and Cancer sub-age decan and overflow (189 – 129 -69 BC) with the peak time associated with the following Aquarius sub-age decan and overflow (52-112-172 AD) within the Scorpio sub-age overflow (8 BC – 172 AD)
  3. Holden’s Third Period is what he calls Medieval Astrology and commences with “Arabian Astrology” in the 8th century AD exactly in line with the Cancer sub-age and overflow (533 – 713 – 894 AD) with the main focus in the overflow period including the Aquarius sub-age decan and overflow (713-773-832 AD).  A Post-Roman Revival did occur away from the former Western Roman Empire in the Cancer sub-age proper (533 – 713 AD)
  4. Holden does not assign a major period of astrology to the Medieval Revival in the 13th century with a strong focus upon Bonatti, but does note it.  This actually has an astrological reason.  Associated with the Medieval Revival are the Scorpio and Cancer sub-age decans of the Pisces sub-age (1253 – 1433 AD), but there is no presence of Cancer or Scorpio at the strength of a sub-age or stronger.  Secondly, the first three periods of astrology were associated with the cusp of ages or age decans.  The First and Second periods are associated with the beginning and peak of the Scorpio age-decan (732 BC – 8 BC), and the Third Period with its high-point in 713 AD of the Cancer age-decan and overflow (8 BC – 713 AD – 1433).  It can therefore be construed, that for a major period in the development of horoscopic astrology in the past, present and future, there must be at a minimum a Cancer, Scorpio or Aquarius sub-age or stronger (i.e. age-decan or age).  This was not the case with the Medieval Revival.

The strong association between horoscopic astrology with Aquarius, Cancer and Scorpio sub-ages and sub-age decans continues on into the Modern Era commencing in the 15th century.  In 2017, the world is at the equivalent of the year 38 AD, right in the middle of the Scorpio/Cancer heyday of Hellenistic astrology but awaiting the equivalent of the time of Ptolemy.  Again, we currently live in the best of times for astrology, with much more to come in the coming century.  Analysis of the Modern Era since the arrival of the Age of Aquarius in the 15th century will be published soon.

It is also worth noting that if these three signs have strong affinity to horoscopic astrology, that their respective three opposite signs: Leo, Capricorn and Taurus may be ‘opposed’ to astrology.  Research currently supports that both Leo and Capricorn are inimical towards astrology while the jury is out on Taurus.  For example, the Leo sub-age and overflow (353 – 533 – 713) was aligned with the extinguishing of astrology in Europe following the fall of the Western Roman Empire plus the growing stridency of the Roman Catholic Church as it entered its highly intolerant stage.

The Mechanics of Macro-Astrology

This analysis uses the techniques of macro-astrology based primarily upon sub-ages and sub-age decans. The mechanics of age sub-divisions used are based on the geometric application of the dwadasamsa twelve-fold sub-division of the zodiacal signs.  In each age (approximately 2150 years each) the sub-ages, based on the dwadasamsa, are `retrograde’ as are their parent ages.  Each sub-age (1/12th of an age and approximately 180 years each) also have 12 micro-ages (of approx 15 years in length) following the same geometric application of dwads as for the sub-ages.  All ages, sub-ages and micro-ages have their respective decans (in retrograde fashion).

The astrology employed in macro-astrology uses the same basic sign rulerships as employed in genethlialogical astrology.  However due to the slow motion effect of the ages and their sub-periods compared to traditional astrology and taking into account the retrograde nature of the ages and their sub-periods, a curious phenomenon occurs which I call the Overflow Effect.  Basically whenever any period is encountered, for example the Pisces age, Pisces effects will demonstrably be seen to coincide with this age.  However due to the retrograde nature of any period associated with ages, each period reaches its peak strength at its end.  For example in the Pisces age the last age-decan is Pisces and the last sub-age is Pisces – therefore a `triple’ Pisces effect is experienced at the end of the Pisces age.

This strong manifestation of a sign at its end does not `fall off the edge of the cliff’ once its period proper comes to an end.  Rather, by analogy, it behaves like a wave that breaks at its end and washes over the following period.  Research furthermore indicates that, for example, after the end of the Pisces age in its overflow period, almost twice as many and potent Pisces events are experienced.  For example once the Pisces age came to an end in 1433 (at the birth of the Modern era) coinciding with the arrival of the Age of Aquarius, the Pisces influence is very much the senior influence in the Aquarian age with Aquarius slowly developing its strength.  In this situation Pisces is the `major ruler’ and Aquarius the `minor ruler’ in the Aquarian age.   This concept may be troubling for some astrologers but the influence of the overflow effect is extremely important in attempting to understand the historical correlations of the ages and their sub-periods.



James Holden, A History of Horoscopic Astrology, AFA Inc., Arizona, 2006

Tamsyn Barton, Ancient Astrology, Routledge, London & New York, 1998

Gavin White, Babylonian Star-Lore, Solaria Publications, London, 2008

Chris Brennan, Hellenistic Astrology, Amar Fati Publications, Denver, 2017

Chris Brennan,The Katarchē of Horary’  2006

David Ovason, The History of the Horoscope, Sutton Publishing, UK, 2005

Rex E Bills, The Rulership Book, Macoy Publishing, Virginia, 1976

Jim Tester, A History of Western Astrology, The Boydell Press, UK, 1987

Robert Hand,Chronology of the Astrology of the Middle East and the West by Period,  ARHAC, 1998


[1] “The History of the Horoscope”, p1

[2] “Ancient Astrology”, p 22

[3] It should be noted that Hellenistic astrology developed at the one time in the 26,000 years cycle of the ages where both the tropical and sidereal zodiacs were closely aligned and so it made little difference which zodiac was used unlike today where the difference is around 24 degrees.

[4] “A History of Western Astrology”, p 29

[5] “Ancient Astrology”, p 23

[6] “A History of Horoscopic Astrology”, p16

[7] “Hellenistic Astrology”, pp 15-49

[8] Nigidius Figulus, Wikipedia, Retrieved November 27, 2014, from

[9] “A History of Horoscopic Astrology”, p 20

[10] “A History of Horoscopic Astrology”, p 26

[11] Marcus Manilius. Wikipedia,  Retrieved  November 19, 2014, from

[12] Thrasyllus of Mendes, Wikipedia, Retrieved November 19, 2014, from

[13] Critodemus. Wikipedia, Retrieved November 19, 2014, from

[14] Antiochus of Athens, Wikipedia, Retrieved, November 19, 2014, from

[15] “Ancient Astrology”, p 58

[16] Ptolemy, Wikipedia, Retrieved, November 19, 2014, from

[17] “Ancient Astrology”, p 62

[18] “Ancient Astrology”, p 57

[19] Paulus Alexandrinus, Wikipedia, Retrieved November 19, 2014, from

[20] Hephaestion of Thebes, Wikipedia, Retrieved  November 19, 2014, from

[21]Julius Firmicus Maternus,  Wikipedia, Retrieved November 19, 2014, from

[22] “Ancient Astrology” p 80

[23] Rhetorius, Wikipedia, Retrieved November 19, 2014, from

[24] Olympiodorus the Younger. Wikipedia, Retrieved November 21, 2014, from

[25] John the Lydian, Wikipedia, Retrieved November 19, 2014, from

[26] “Ancient Astrology”, p 84

[27] “A History of Horoscopic Astrology”, pp109-11

[28]Mashallah ibn Athari, Wikipedia, Retrieved November 22, 2014, from

[29] “A History of Horoscopic Astrology”, pp 115-126

[30] “The Rulership Book”, p 9

[31] “Ancient Hindu Astrology for the Modern Western Astrologer”, p 155 re: “occult sciences”

[32] “Ancient Astrology”, p11

[33] “Ancient Astrology”, p20

[34] “Babylonian Star-Lore”, p268

[35] Vedanga Jyotisha, Wikipedia, Retrieved, November 19, 2014, from

[36] “A History of Horoscopic Astrology”, p 5


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