What is traditional astrology?

Traditional astrology spins on the concept of essence. Essence is the divine spark that brings vitality to our physical reality. It is the thing that informs your soul, but is not your soul.

Your soul is this ethereal thing that cannot actually be fully grasped, and so is ultimately undefinable. It is the eternal part of you, the part that exists outside of time. Being eternal, it is unchanging. We humans are half divine and half clay. So, we are changeable – to an extent.  We learn and integrate, discover and explore. But our soul is eternal and true through it all – while we are capable of great feats, we are also not a flexible as we think.

At times, we are able to get a sense of our soul, a fleeting glimpse. We say, “That photo captures the essence of that person.” Those moments are difficult to describe, the feelings that reflect contact with the soul are whispered and tentative, yet resilient and reverberating. In the incomplete way that a photo might capture your essence, so does your birth chart.

Traditional astrology recognizes a clear line between the ethereal and unknowable or unmeasurable parts of life versus the measurable and distinctive aspects of the personality and events. This is the main place where it varies from modern astrology.

You can read more about the technical differences between Modern and Traditional Astrology here.

Traditional astrology is a tool for describing rather than defining your Essence.

It’s a tool for describing the characteristics of the personality and life that are woven around your essence, by your essence. Traditional astrology is a system for using physical characteristics that are real, measurable, and noticeable to describe you and the events of your life. The characteristics are structured according to the traditional model of the 4 Humours or Temperaments (The 4 Elements).

The 4 Temperaments are:

  • Sanguine (Air = Hot + Moist)
  • Choleric (Fire = Hot + Dry)
  • Melancholic (Earth = Cold + Dry)
  • Phlegmatic (Water = Cold + Moist)

Moisture is connective, dryness is separating. Heat is expressive and cold is responsive.

These basic description blossom into a system for describing everything on earth.

There are never only 12 ways to respond.

Each person is ultimately unique. We can describe the characteristics that will be present, to some degree, but the mystery of life always resides inside the human.  The movements of the stars must be weighed against a particular birth chart for understanding which moments matter for which individuals. Every moment holds the potential for more than just twelve ways, in contrast to the Sun Sign columns.

There are three branches of traditional astrology. They are horary astrology, natal astrology, and mundane astrology. I practice the first two, and you can follow those links to read a more in-depth description of them both.

Briefly, mundane astrology, being the third level of traditional astrology, is the most complex level (by far!). This type of astrology considers the events of nations, weather, and natural events like earthquakes and hurricanes. As you can imagine, this level uses all of the tools of the other levels, but is often also considering much larger cycles of time. Many, many charts are to be considered in a particular mundane study. A fascinating realm, though beyond the skill of yours truly.

How did I find Traditional Astrology?

I discovered Traditional Astrology when I came across an article in mid-2008 online somewhere written by John Frawley. I don’t remember exactly where. But I about fell off my chair. I remember thinking, “Oh my God, this is it.” He was so clear, so filled with common sense. His word were so fundamentally true – I don’t even remember what the article was about. But I knew he was my teacher and that I’d incorporate his approach into my work. When I read those words, they rang so true.

What I loved most though, was that while I did have that full-body ‘Yes’ that comes a few times in life when we’re turning a new corner, John helped me dip into my common sense and logic to integrate the experience and the learning. As someone who had spent so much of my life in the world of logic and reason, I wasn’t willing (and still am not) to sacrifice reason – it has its place.

I’ve learned how to ask the right questions and hold my assumptions till I’ve conducted a thorough investigation. Most important though, I know that ultimately, faith trumps logic and reason. You’ve got to determine when to use which way of thinking. My study of traditional astrology has helped me to understand how to support the correct combination of logic and intuition.

I recently contributed to a book of worked horary examples, along with John Frawley and several other colleagues. Check it out, here.


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