A joint publication of: Astro Logos and Zyntara Publications



June 2007


In this issue: 
"What is this love by which Istar loves the king, my lord...."
StarLogos - There and Back Again
Visual Astrology Blog - Launching a home on the web for visual astrology


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The Visual Astrology Conference in South Africa is now behind us but never forgotten. In this issue of the newsletter Darrelyn recaps the Conference, from the lectures to high teas, and I take a look at an interesting sky that happens later this month. 
But first we would like to introduce The Visual Astrology Blog - Visual Astrology now has a home on the web -  This is a place where all astrologers can come to:

                 * Look and read different postings.
                 * Subscribe to the RSS feed so that your web browser will tell you when there are new   
                 * Register so that you can add comments or post interesting thoughts.

The blog is totally free for all users but we ask you all to keep on subject. Being a blog it will be totally free of spam and thus you will be able to enjoy being part of a global community of visual astrologers. We have many things planned for the blog, one of which is to set up a page advertising those astrologers who are practising and using visual astrology. So whether you are a horary astrologer, medical, psychological, modern, medieval and yes even if you are a siderealist - visual astrology will take your flat charts and add another dimension to your work. Come and have a look and say hello. Go to  www.VisualAstrology.co.uk and follow the link to the blog. At the moment it is full of Conference chat and photos but it will contain many topics as time goes by.

VAN Archive - www.Zyntara.com


"What is this love by which Istar loves the king, my lord...."  
A bright Venus joins with Saturn
Bernadette Brady M.A. 

Around the year 660 BCE the Assyrian priest Issar-sumu-eres wrote a letter to his king containing one of the earliest-known associations of Venus with the idea of love. In this letter he observed the closeness of a bright Venus to Saturn and wrote:


What is this love by which Istar loves the
king, my lord, and has [sent] the very best to
the king my lord! 


With this letter in mind, then, this month look up and note what is happening in the sky. Usually only about once a century we get a bright evening Venus radiating a powerful Saturn near the great star Regulus – the king star, and this time is with us again. In visual astrology such a radiation implies a gift to the king, a gift to those who are in power, a blessing on the establishment. The king (Saturn) is already strong as he is sitting with the stars of Leo, the great regal constellation.

In the last few hundred years we have had only three occurrences of this sky story. The last two times the Moon has passed gently underneath this interesting and regal union of Saturn and Venus.

However, in this month, for the only time this century and the only time in the last 170 years, the crescent Moon will pass in front of Venus, temporarily blocking her from the evening sky, and then within a few hours the Moon god, Sin, will continue on his journey and dare to block out the king himself - Saturn.

In modern terminology the crescent Moon will be occulting both Venus and Saturn.  


This sky event will occur on the night of the 18/19 June 2007 – so go outside and look up at the sky and to the west where you will see Regulus, Saturn, Venus and the crescent Moon.


What makes this even more interesting is that on 30th June and therefore within this same lunar month, Venus which is still bright and radiating, will also occult Saturn. 

This symbolises a royal union which is potentially joyful, fruitful or blessed. Such a union refers to those who are royal or those who hold power. However, in this sky story this union is marred or altered by the Moon god's lack of support. For as he begins his new month, Sin actually blocks out both planets, suggesting that he is removing, ending, dissolving or breaking apart this blessed union.

A blessed union that the Moon god, Sin, signals is breaking apart.


I would think that if this combination was seen by a astrologer/priest from the Mesopotamian era, there would be warnings sent to the king about his wife or lover.

In the recent past

The last time the bright evening star, Venus, joined with Saturn in the stars of Leo was around the 30th June, 1978 . At that time the English Prince Michael married baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz. and gave up his right to the throne because of his wife's Catholic faith. Venus joined with Saturn in the stars of Leo and the Moon passed gently and almost approvingly underneath the royal pair of lovers.

The time before that was in 1919 and the world was caught up in WWI but as Venus joined with Saturn in the royal star of Leo, the Moon once again moved underneath the union, showing its support, and within days of this celestial event the Treaty of Versailles ending WW I was signed in France on 28th June, 1919. Germany and its allies were forced to accept full responsibility for causing the war and, under the terms of articles 231-248, were made to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed as Allies.

Prior to 1919 we have to move back to 1831 when, in late June, a bright evening star, Venus, joined totally with the King, Saturn, as the Moon god swept over them both. At this time the joint powers of Europe granted Belgium (at the London Conference)  its independence from the Netherlands and a new king was created – King Leopold I of Belgium.   


[If you own Starlight, have a look at the sky for these three dates and compare these skies with the sky later this month. Also while you are looking at these skies from the past, animate the screen so you can watch the Moon travel beneath for the 1978 and 1919 dates and in front of planets for the 1831 date. It will give you an whole new slant on the location of the Moon!]


On 30th June, 1978, Prince Michael gave up his right to the English throne to marry the woman he loved.

The signing of the Peace Treaty of Versailles on 28th June 1919 - stripped Germany of power and forced it to pay heavy reparations.

King Leopold I of Belgium, given the throne in July, 1831, by a joint meeting of European kings at the expense of the Netherlands.

again, just as in 1831, the sky is producing the same narrative. A union, if made, will involve a sacrifice or loss OR maybe a union is to be broken, removed and dissolved. In recent days there has been news of the G8 meeting reaching an agreement about climate change. Could this be part of this sky pattern, or is there a country with a new independence to be granted or a royal union which will end?  Will a union of heads of states fall out?  We are already seeing tensions in the “friendship” between Blair, Bush and Russian leader, Putin. One can never predict exactly how this will manifest but we can see that visual astrology strongly suggests that a union, royal or between powerful people, is going to end in late June or July. Let us wait and see. In the meantime see if you can make the time to go outside and look at this bright Istar that loves the king so much.


Hunger, Herman. (1992). Astrological Reports to Assyrian Kings. Helsinki, Finland: Helsinki University Press. pg. 16
Starlight Software (2002) Barnswood and Brady:Zyntara Publications



StarLogos  - There and Back Again
Memories of a conference

Darrelyn Gunzburg


It begins on a train. Carriages with leather purple seats that can carry eight people apiece, each with pull-down bunks for overnight travel and their own wash basins; windows that open to the shifting landscape of vineyards and townships, black arms clutching hope in their baskets of grapes for sale, and mountains crushed by time captured gold in the afternoon sun; corridors the width of a person, making it impossible to pass another; lunch in brown paper bags that preface the gourmet meals that are to come; and an hour and a half delay when the train engine breaks down, ensuring we arrive to a dark sky and the splendour of Scorpio rising.

A dream that has been conceived over coffee one morning a year earlier in our kitchen in Bristol, UK, with Nicky Allsop suddenly has shape and form. Thus it is that this small wayside town of Matjiesfontein, founded in 1884 by the British immigrant Douglas Logan, set in the wilds of the Little Karoo, this place frozen in time, whose main hotel, The Lord Milner, is still awash with original Victorian furniture, Kipling’s “map that is half unrolled"[1]  becomes home to thirty six astrologers for five days.


The Lord Milner Hotel

The cold and the open sky


We have chosen this time of year for specific reasons: we choose it for a dark moon to better see the sky; we choose it for its distance away from light pollution; we choose it to see Scorpio, a rare sight for those not raised with southern hemisphere eyes; and we choose it for the clear weather.


After a welcome of sherry on the platform at Matjiesfontein, and a quick dinner with sky maps to orientate us, we are driven this Friday night in the hay wain of an incredibly slow-moving tractor into a farm field away from the contaminating light of the hotel. We encounter a spectacular sky but we have not reckoned on the wind chill factor. The only solution is to huddle closely together imitating emperor penguins in the Antarctic as Bernadette, complete with Sky Scout, a revolutionary handheld device that uses advanced GPS technology, traces the lines of stars into a three dimensional reality: Scorpio with its red-heart Antares and a brilliant Jupiter below it on the ecliptic, the Centaur kicking its heels around the Southern Cross, the vivid blue Spica in the wheat sheaf of Virgo, Leo with Regulus and a bright Venus dropping into the west. Glorious. But sooooo cold. So cold Bernadette can’t set up the portable PA and we have to split the group into two viewings. So cold we know exactly what Bernadette means when she recounts lines written by the Assyrian astrologer/priest some several thousand years beforehand:

                        “It is so cold I can no longer watch, my king, I must go inside…”

It’s phenomenology we could not have conceived we were going to experience. We've come so that the the patterns of the stars can reveal themselves and etch indelibly into our minds but it is this unseasonable cold which directly connects us with our Mesopotamian ancestors.

Carrying these patterns, these narratives into the class room on Saturday morning, the old Court House built in 1897, we begin with a debrief. How has seeing the sky changed or affected us? What dreams have we had after meeting the sky of the previous night? What insights have we gained? Building on this night sky viewing, Bernadette walks us through ways of seeing charts through Mesopotamian eyes: the love, passion and rage of Ishtar (Venus) and Nergal (Mars), the constant power struggle between the King (Saturn) and The Crown Prince (Jupiter), and Nabu the Scribe (Mercury), the Messenger or Thief. We consider the eighteen stars of the way of Anu, that ecliptical area between Ea (earth) and Enlil (sky), some of which, in focusing on our modern tropical zodiac, we have lost, such as the strange-named Anunitum and the Great Swallow.


Inside the Old Court House

Duccio di Buoninsegna's Triptych (1300-05)

In the afternoon is the first practical session. We work with students’ charts in class, offering observations and seeking empirical evidence from them of how the orientation of their planets in their charts across the twenty-four hour period of sunrise to sunrise that encompasses their birth time makes sense for them: is Nergal about to descend into the Underworld? Do they have a Sulpae Jupiter, returning to the sky ahead of the Sun or is it Niburu and hence extinguished by the Sun as it culminates? and so on.

New material takes time to process and Bernadette and I deliberately plan sessions after afternoon tea that are “lean back” and receptive, not “lean forward” and focused. This first “lean back” session we name “The Sky Revered” and I shape it as a visual journey that examines the cultural implications of how we interpret the fixed stars and make sense of them in our art through tombs, temples and cathedral domes; and then reflect on how the constellation Virgo has slid into medieval Italian religious altarpieces through the cult of the Madonna and the Woman of the Apocalypse, refracts into Protestant England through Queen Elizabeth I and unconsciously proliferates into current time through the life of Diana, Princess of Wales.


Happy Hour spills into dinner and then into the "Laird's Arms" pub with its massive mirrored bar and counter and 1902 cash register. Initially this building was used as a carpenter's shop by two Scottish carpenters brought out by Logan from Scotland to do all the joinery in the village. Later it became a butcher's shop. During World War II it was turned into a recreation room for Royal Navy sailors on leave from Simon's Town. After the War, it served as the Village Hall. This night the bar takes agency. Lying across the far end of its polished wood are a family of 1920s hats: a broad brimmed hat tilted at a jaunty angle with a flirtatious quality and attached black curls turns Nedret Saidova into a Young Sophisticate; a cream wool cloche turns Eve Sibley into a Flapper; a woollen cap with dreadlocks turns Michael Darlington into an Old Salt; a hat with a lavish brim swathed in tulle turns John Wadsworth into a Happy Widow. Every time I see Sue Farebrother she has morphed into another personality under a different hat. Behind the anonymity of such headwear, a spontaneous craic emerges: dancing, singing and much laughter, culminating in Marcia Butchart’s sinuous, mesmerising belly-dance across the pub bar. A fitting evening for skies that are now covered with cloud and raining.  

Sunday morning. With optimistic planning and anticipation of clear weather, it’s now raining heavily. Back in Cape Town the weather prediction had been for “tons of rain” and it has taken little time to sweep east upon us. Once more the day begins with a debrief, followed by Bernadette walking us through Babylonian Star Phases - the Heliacal Rising and Setting Stars - and understanding how stars work in paran with planets. A good lecture for Sunday morning as Bernadette shows how the star phases weave into the current theology of souls, saints and enchanted places.


After lunch the second practical session threads Mesopotamian planetary interpretations and visual sky maps with Babylonian Star Phases and parans. We’ve alerted everyone at the beginning of the conference that the third practical session on Monday afternoon will consist of them reading a fellow delegate’s sky map and chart in this way, so there is focus and attention on how to pull these concepts together.   

Afternoon tea is followed by a “lean back” lecture from Bernadette entitled “To Touch the Moon”, a glorious look at Sin (The Moon), the god that empowered the king; the drawing down of the moon in its annual cycle where full moons of the summer months, regardless of hemisphere, are lower in the night sky, keeping closer to the horizon, than the full moons of the winter months which reach a greater elevation in the night sky. (Interestingly this gives rise to the concept of being born with a drawn down Moon and Bernadette shows us that Neil Armstrong is born with such a Moon); and the meaning of lunar eclipses which set with “unwashed feet”, for lunar eclipses are key events in the Mesopotamian view of the world.


At dinner we hold an auction to raise “thank you” tips for the sweet-natured staff of Matjiesfontein hotel and the catering firm, ClockHeart Catering, based in Cape Town, whose every meal has been a epicurean delight, including star-shaped cookies for afternoon tea. John Martin has accompanied his wife, Clare Martin, current head of the Faculty of Astrological Studies, to this conference as a non-astrologer, yet his wit as auctioneer adds a unique spin to the evening as he encourages people to bid for a see-through plastic inflatable globe with star constellations “worth nothing on the market, yet how much will someone offer?” Monika Gindl-Muzik wins the bidding war and takes it back to Vienna with her. We’ve also donated one of only two copies of our full colour wire-bound books containing all the Visual Astrology Newsletters to date. It’s a fast bid going to Chrissy Phelp.


After dinner the sky clears. Our sound man, Gary Cousins, offers to guide people again through the sky, this time near the hotel, so we can continue to relax and Bernadette can rest her voice which has turned into a croak. We think it is a ploy to get his hands on the Sky Scout but it is also an important opportunity for people to revisit the sky, refind the star patterns and consolidate what has been learnt on the first night.

By the time we wake on Monday morning the complete annual rainfall for Matjiesfontein has fallen in just four hours, filling the dry dusty creek bed and turning it into a torrent of ochre. We dare to believe this is a blessing from the heavens. It is now so cold that the air is interleaved with thin flakes of snow. We are all wearing every piece of clothing we have brought with us.


A running river in the desert

Doing Visual Astrology

Monday’s teaching day begins once more with a debrief of insights and dreams, followed by Bernadette presenting her techniques of how to look at modern mundane astrology through Mesopotamian eyes. After morning tea Nicky Allsop presents her work on fertility using the fixed stars.

It is in the afternoon session, when delegates work on each other’s charts, putting into practice their visual astrology muscles, that the conference work truly comes into its own. No amount of theory can replace practical insights, and the sense of joy and empowerment from people in the feedback session after afternoon tea awes us both.


Tuesday morning ironically dawns bright and clear and, again ironically, in the end is our beginning. After all the hard work we have done in preparation, we knew that those attending the conference would be encountering a whole new phenomenon of the sky and how to read it, and thus we have been open to re-arranging lectures on the fly. So it is that Bernadette's very first lecture, “The Missing Sky”, is given as the final lecture, a wrap up observing how the great vault of heaven has morphed in modern times into the sterility of “Mars Bars”, “Mercury” outboard motors and the stylised Virgo as the insignia for Starbucks coffee, to name but a few instances.


Then it’s time for final packing and boarding the bus, taking us away from Matjiesfontein, back into Cape Town and final goodbyes.


So why did we go to Matjiesfontein and what did we learn?

We are drawn to astrology because we love the stars, yet the modern world is full of astrologers who have become disconnected from the sky. We dare to laugh at those whom we say live in “flatland” yet we live in flat charts, separated from our tool of trade, the patterns in the moving sky. This journey was a big ask, for we know what it takes to stand in a different perspective. It was gratifying that the conference drew astrologers from across the world but more so that that those who came dared to walk with us across that divide and saw for themselves the breath-taking sky through Mesopotamian eyes.


Thank you all who joined us on this part of the journey. You inspire us to continue and may your own work unfold with insights.


 [1]Kipling, Rudyard. (1894) The Native Born in “The Seven Seas”, Methuen:London.




The Summer School enrolments close in 14 days.

Also please note that we are not planning a Winter School for 2007 as Darrelyn has writing commitments, so this is your last chance till the summer of 2008 to get your teeth into reading charts.

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