Seven things that astrologers should know about fixed
stars. A short list of seven points to have as part of
your astrological knowledge.
StarLogos >>> 2010 - a recap on the Visual Astrology
conference in Santa Fe, NM, USA.
This newsletter is largely devoted to recording the
adventure of StarLogos >>> 2010, Santa Fe and we have
included pictures and comments from many of the delegates.
To us in our journey of reclaiming the sky for astrologers
such conferences are milestones in the history of this new
but also ancient subject. Every time we gather from around
the world new ideas emerge. These ideas will appear on the
pages of this newsletter but for this issue we just want to
honour the event that was StarLogos >>> 2010.
Readers from Down Under - Do you know about our 3-day
workshops 'Re-Thinking the Heavens, Cosmology, Sky and
Chart' - January 7-9, 2011, Adelaide South Australia?
See the end of this newsletter for more information.
SPECIAL NOTE: If your
email-reading software has trouble reading this newsletter
and go to the TOP newsletter in the archive list
to read it online.
Seven things astrologers should know
about Fixed Stars
Bernadette Brady M.A.
At the conference I was asked about fixed stars.
I tend to get asked similar questions whenever I am talking to
astrologers. So with this in mind I have compiled a list of seven things to know
about fixed stars!
1. Why do stars matter
The stars and their patterns in the night sky have been a blackboard
for the projection of humanity's stories and mythology for thousands, if not
tens of thousands of years. Symbolically therefore they are just as vital and
rich with meaning for astrology as the planets and the tropical zodiac signs.
Are the brighter stars more important than the dim
The importance of a star in astrological use is not its brightness
but rather the amount of mythology linked with the star.
The brightest star in the sky is Sirius at magnitude -1.42 and
the dimmest stars that are still active astrologically have a magnitude of
around 3.5 to 5. Stars like Acubens, the alpha star in the constellation Cancer,
has a magnitude of only 4.25, so it is very dim to our eye but it is 'bright'
with mythology. One unit of magnitude is about 2.5 times more light. So if
Acubens in Cancer is a 10 watt light bulb then Sirius is a 1000 watt bulb or 100
times brighter than Acubens, yet Acubens is just as 'strong' in charts as
What was the original way that astrologers worked with stars?
The Egyptian and Mesopotamian manner of linking stars with planets
was to observe when a star and planet 'touched the earth' at the same time.
The image of a cross within a circle was and still is a symbol
for how the earth touches the divine sky. In religious expression it is used to
show how the mortal world can become divine or how it touches the divine, as can
be seen in the two ancient crosses given below. In astrology this sacred union
is represented by the angles of the chart - Ascendant, Midheaven, Descendant,
If a star and a planet were both on this cross at the same time
this is known as a paran relationship, a union of the divine star with the more
worldly planet and the very earth itself.
|The Saint Thomas Kottakavu Church at North
Paravur, India. This cross is engraved on granite stone believed to have
been made around 880 C.E.
||Cross in Hagia Sophia in
Istanbul, Turkey. The cathedral is dated from the 4th century CE.
This original method slowly fell into disuse because it was
impossible to reconstruct the star risings and settings without an astrolabe set
for the latitude of a person's birth. Thus by the time of the decline and disuse
of the astrolabe in the 17th century, we see the final abandonment of working
with parans in astrology. However, with the advent of computers in our current
era we are now easily able to return to this original method and sacred concept.
4. How many stars and planet
combinations are usual for a person's chart? - Using an orb 2 minutes
of time, most people will have 12 to 18 star and planet parans active in their
5. Why are the stars called
The stars are called 'Fixed' because for a set location a star will
rise in the east in the same place on the horizon every single day. It will also
set in the same place on the western horizon every single day. This is different
to the planets that rise and set at varying places on the line of the horizon,
constantly shifting their location of rising or setting. The planets are 'the
wanderers' ('planetoi' in Greek) and the stars are fixed.
6. Where do all the star names
Stars names come largely from the Sumerian, Babylonian
cultures or the pre-Hellenistic Mediterranean people. Many star names start with
the letters 'Al' such as Aldebaran, the great red eye of Taurus the Bull, or Al
Rescha the Sacred Knot of Pisces. 'Al' is Arabic for 'The'. Other stars may
start with Ras as in Ras Alhague in Ophiuchus or Rastaban in Draco, where the
word 'Ras' is from the Arabic for 'head'. The word Deneb, as in Denebola in Leo
or Deneb Algedi in Capricorn is the Arabic work for 'tail'.
The oddest-named star in the sky is Sualocin, the alpha star of
the constellation Delphinus, which was named by Piazzi Palermo in 1814 after his
assistant Nicolaus Venator who helped him after he nearly lost his eye sight. Do
you see how Piazzi gave his assistant via his name a permanent place in fixed
7. How many stars are there in
the sky? There are about 4000 - 5000 visible stars (magnitude 6 or
brighter) but on any one night, with a dark moon and no light pollution, you
will be able to see about 1500 stars.
However, with paran fixed star work in astrology we focus on the
'bright' mythological stars and we work with about 64 stars, each of which has
shown a consistent pattern of mythological expression in charts.
There and back again…
StarLogos >>>2010 Santa Fe
Like all conferences StarLogos >>>2010 Santa Fe was several years in the
planning and began a year after StarLogos 2007. Because it was a intense
teaching conference our limit for registrations was 45 and we reached this a
month out and so not all who wanted to come were able to find a place.
And so it began…
We had all met via the Conference Community Forum we had set up on the website,
so when finally we met what a joyful meeting was this! Names became faces, old
friends were greeted, and the anticipation of what was to come was enormous. The
weather, which had been damp and rainy on Wednesday, was now clear and the view
across the open landscape of desert scrub, adobe church and bell tower was
bright in the high altitude.
|View from the balcony, Santa Fe
In the classroom...
We opened the conference with The Raising of the Hands ceremony and asked the
watchers of the cardinal points and the zenith to open the skies to us that we
might learn and understand the sky.
Then this 5-day teaching conference began with a lecture from Bernadette Brady
on ‘The Sacred Sky’ and how we had been severed from that ancient connection as
we focused more and more on the flat Greek horoscope. This was followed by a
lecture from Darby Costello on ‘The Moon’, a beautifully-wrought tour-de-force
showing us the changing face and meaning of the Moon. My lecture focused on the
sky we would be seeing during the star-viewing night, focusing particularly the
Stymphalian Birds (this will be published in the October VAN).
Apart from the Friday evening Star Party, the College’s
gourmet chef, Behzad Dayeny, catered all the food at the conference. With a
predominance of Moon in Taurus amongst the delegates this served us well. The
food was astoundingly good. On this first evening we organized with Behzad to
cook us a buffet dinner of Chicken Monterey with roasted vegetables, designed to
be eaten as we all made acquaintance with each other and gained our ‘first look’
at Santa Fe skies from the open balcony of the College, the sliver of New Moon
dropping behind the trees with Venus brightly visible.
Friday morning began with a teaching session from Bernadette on how stars touch
the earth, followed by a session from both of us explaining the nature of parans
and how to read their influence in a chart. After morning tea we continued
looking more fully at the zodiac and the constellations we would see that
Bernadette Brady and Darrelyn Gunzburg
at Star Logos.
Lunch consisting of a New Mexican buffet with corn tortillas
and flour tortillas was followed by a two-hour gathering in the College’s
Planetarium, with Juan Alvarez, the director of the Planetarium, taking us on a
journey through Egyptian sky mythology and then Bernadette showing delegates how
the sky moved. - Wow, what an amazing thing to see the sky moving around us with
24 hours passing in a few minutes.
After this we all returned to our respective casitas and apartments to get ready
for the star-viewing evening. The coach picked up us from the Old Santa Fe Inn
at 18:00 and meandered the 25-minute journey to VindHestar Ranch. We went first
to the star viewing area and in the pale early evening light, arranged the 50
bales of straw and tarpaulins into a large circle. Then we crossed to the dining
Janet Carter and her husband David worked hard to landscape their kitchen garden
in time for StarLogos. This they did with splendid achievement, creating an
environment of great beauty and tranquility for the Star Party. Three paths
meandered through the garden, accompanied by a strip of farolitos lining the
paths. Tiny white lights adorned the columns of both dining ramadas, as if
anticipating the starry light show we were to see that evening. As we entered
the garden we were gifted with a radiant exquisite Venus bestowing her light and
power to the crescent Moon in a golden sky. Close by Mars and Saturn dipped
towards the western horizon. Meanwhile Jupiter’s brilliance on the eastern
horizon echoed this astounding sight. Planets and luminaries claiming the sky
at sunset and the velvet night.
VindHestar Ranch with the farolitos
lining the paths.
|StarLogos Star Party... a bright Venus
empowering the Crescent Moon.
As this sky story played out,
Michelle Roetzer, a teacher in the
SFCC's culinary-arts program, and Mark Sciscenti emerged to
tell the story of the food we were to eat. Michelle combines her culinary arts
skills with political science and the story of the evening’s food underlined her
zeal for food politics. We learn of the three levels of heat of chilis, and the
stories of the ‘three sisters’ in Native
American mythology: squash, corn, and beans. After the meal Mark brings out his
Cosmic Cake, a
showpiece chocolate cake clothed in white chocolate stars.
Janet Carter and the Star Party at
Mark Sciscenti and his Cosmic Cake.
Filled with the goodness of the products of the earth, we make our way over to
the viewing area, guided by red light sticks, to encounter a sky richly-laden
with stars. The work we have done in the classroom pays off as delegates
recognize the flights of the three Stymphalian Birds, the coil of Draco, the
sweep of Pisces with dazzling Jupiter in the western fish, flying Pegasus
connected with receptive Andromeda, and Perseus, the Prince and, as the evening
moves on, Hamal rising. And in the west Scorpius with its flashing heart Antares,
the Archer Sagittarius, the triangular body of Capricornus, and Sadalsuud and
Sadalmelek forming the shoulders of mighty Aquarius, whose urn continued to pour
forth its water towards the southern fish Pisces Australis and the Royal Star
Fomalhaut. This breath-taking sky was offset by Mark’s supper of hot chocolate,
lavender cake and paklava. We fell into the coach late that night, alive with
chatter and embracing the sky in our hearts.
Next morning we began late and over coffee and pastries, described our
experience of encountering the living sky, who was our Gatekeeper (the
constellation that seemed to stand out for any one person) and what effect the
sky had upon us. Melanie Schlossberg then presented a work-in-progress lecture
‘Redrawing the Sky’. Melanie has been commissioned by Bernadette and is working
closely under her guidance to redraw the constellation images for Starlight v.2.
Melanie captivated all of us with her journey and the models she used to shape
the ‘new’ images. This was followed by Darby’s lecture ‘Venus over the Ages’.
Darby has been researching Venus and working with images of her for many years
and indeed in a breath-taking lecture evoked Venus in front of us.
Left: Melanie Schlossberg.
Right: Melanie with her image of Ursa Major.
Darby Costello and Venus.
In the teaching session after lunch Bernadette and I
presented the planets through Mesopotamian eyes: the roles of Saturn, Mercury,
Venus, Mars and the Moon in the Mesopotamian world. The final teaching session
of the day was one where we put all the pieces together in anticipation of the
practical sessions to follow on Sunday.
Armed with the textbook of the conference Restoring the Heavens to Astrology
(Brady and Gunzburg) along with Star and Planet Combinations (Brady),
these sessions comprised firstly looking at the skymaps and parans of a ‘mystery
chart’ (Isabel Allende) followed by working on each other’s skymaps and parans
in groups of three. Each group huddled, connected, poured over and puzzled their
way through the techniques of the visual astrologer.
In the session after lunch each group discussed what they had discovered in the
practical sessions, what had worked for them and their response to the
techniques of visual astrology and fixed stars parans that we had been teaching
them over the course of the conference. The sky is so broad and vast that the
amount of information contained within it can be overwhelming. However,
Bernadette and I know that without the opportunity to put what we had been
teaching into practice within the safety of the conference, that these
techniques would remain theory only, lovely to encounter but yielding nothing in
terms of being of use in the consulting room. Each person’s response was unique,
yet underlying every one was the same awe and reverence that comes from
encountering the sparkling sky first hand and then ‘seeing’ that same sky
reflected in a person’s life.
Stephen Frank talks of his experience
doing a visual astrology consultation
Listening ... Gail Byrnes, Marcia
In the teaching session after the tea-break, Bernadette, Darby and I discussed
sacred time and Bernadette used Starlight to illustrate the movement and cycles
of Pluto as it plowed erratically through the constellations, and the dance of
Venus, independent, self-regulating and free.
Sunday night was a free night and many delegates elected to join us at Backroad
Pizza for a night of relaxation and camaraderie.
On Monday morning Darby presented a mini-lecture on Mercury,
determining whether one was born with a Promethean Mercury (rising before the
sun) or an Epimethean Mercury (rising after the sun). This provoked much food
for thought. Then as a group the three of us considered the nodes in the chart.
The final session ‘Where To From Here?’
took place after morning coffee, ideas on how delegates could keep working
with the sky and keep adding it to their astrology. Then we Closed the
Circle, thanking the watchers of the cardinal points and of the zenith for
allowing us to learn more of our ancient past and make it contemporary
StarLogos>>>2010 Santa Fe was now
complete. We had been there and we had returned, full, satisfied, and in
dialogue with the stars.
Viewing Venus on Thursday night...
say/thank you enough for the work you are putting forth. The
astrological community will be forever indebted to you for your
contributions. It has always frustrated me that the planets were not
visible enough on the white page that we use in our daily work.
Now, thanks to this course, they leap off the paper to become
alive in their true context - among the stars.
The brilliance and
passion that Bernadette and Darrelyn have for the stars is
awe-inspiring. Their joy for introducing others to the night sky is
Thank you Bernadette and Darrelyn for an incredibly well-organized and
executed conference! Your enthusiasm has inspired me to get to know
the characters in the night sky.
Fabulously presented and well organized, Bernadette and Darrelyn offer a
program that does not ask one to jettison one's current form of astrology,
but instead peers beneath it to find ancient meaning in modern charts.
Classroom presentations and a wonderful planetarium visit prepped us for a
memorable evening of food and sky viewing in rural Santa Fe, where the
fare could not have been better, nor the conditions for learning the stars
in naked-eye action.
Stringent academics are de rigueur for this crowd, and all 3 are
experienced, organized and engaging presenters.
Linea in San Francisco
It has been awhile in the rush
of the fast-changing times that I have enjoyed such a wonderful exchange
between fellow astrologers - and fellow human beings.
My experience of seeing
magnificent Sagittarius in the sky was overwhelming and has stayed with
me as a touchstone. He is so huge and powerfully beautiful. Strangely
and magically I still see him in my mind's eye ..... as bright and
radiant stars but in a brilliant daytime blue sky!!
! am so happy and grateful to have been part of this extraordinary
and inspiring event.
happening Down Under!
Visit Astro Logos for
Esoteric Technologies, the home of
Solar Fire for information and
Re-Thinking the Heavens -
7- 9 January 2011 in Adelaide, South Australia.