Key technical differences between Modern and Traditional Astrology:
- The tradition of astrology goes back at least 2500 years. Most of the great thinkers of the Western world were astrologers of the type of astrology that I practice – though they would not have called it such – from Plato and Aristotle to Galileo and Copernicus to William Lilly. The Modern branch of astrology bears very little resemblance to the tradition, with its sharp powers of delineation and distinction. Modern Astrology grew from changes made to the astrological system starting only about two hundred years ago. Because prediction was illegal in the late 1700s, the modern system that grew out of it was only able to be called entertainment and used for psychological conversation. Much was lost, and the system which was develop stripped the tradition of its finesse, where the new system equated the first house with Aries and hence with Mars; it also threw out the 4 Humours and the concept of essence. A total aberration of the tradition which fundamentally relied on those two concepts. Western Traditional thought was originally underpinned not only by the concept of essence, but also the concept of the 4 Humours or Temperaments (Elements). This 4 quadrant system is a cousin to the body typing systems of Chinese medicine (acupuncture and acupressure) and Hindu medicine (Ayurveda and Jyotish) and has similar applications.
- Traditional astrology is based in the concept, “As Above, So Below”. This means that the stars reflect the state of affairs here on Earth, like a huge galactic mirror. The stars and planets do not impel us to action or create any energetic pull – they do not make us do anything. This millennial-old system simply describes, indicates and illustrates the qualities and dynamics at play.
- A MUCH smaller emphasis on the three recently-discovered outer planets (Pluto, Neptune and Uranus). I still use them but consider them fixed-star-like objects. And no, none of them rule a sign (Mars rules Scorpio, Saturn rules Aquarius, and of course Jupiter rules Pisces.) The three outer planet are discoveries only a couple of hundred years old and do not really fit nor are they needed within the several millennia-old tradition of astrology.
- Modern astrology uses an “alphabet” approach (first house = Aries = Mars, and so on). This is not how astrology was used over the several millennia of its history. The houses only align with the signs in this way when we are working with Medical Astrology and the body. Otherwise there is no correlation.
- While life is made of patterns, they are always reflected in the birth chart. As a traditional astrologer, I would not say that any Mercury Retrograde period or any particular New or Full Moon mean anything in general for everyone. Generalizations are the realm of Sun Sign or Modern Astrology. The traditional astrologer always goes back to the particular life to look for indicators. Using common sense, we know this to be true: that there may only be a small handful of times that a particular life event is truly connected to a particular moon cycle. To raise your anxiety at every full moon or Mercury retrograde is unnecessary.
- I look at a person’s temperament for initial clues about how a person is moving through life. Is the person a farmer type, one who is strategic and will persevere, or a warrior type, one who will show initiative and act quickly? Telling a farmer type to get out there and fight for his beliefs won’t motivate them – they’ll just go back to their plowing, come what may. Again, the Moderns do not consider temperament at all. Enough said.
- Lastly, traditional astrology has three branches of increasing complexity. Horary, Natal and Mundane are successive levels of the same craft. Modern Astrology does not typically delineate between different levels of complexity or the tools appropriate to each level of study. I practice both Horary Astrology and Natal Astrology but not Mundane Astrology.