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Sepharial Gender: M
Walter Richard Gornold (born: Old)
born on 20 March 1864 at 02:00 (= 02:00 AM )
Place Handsworth (West Midlands), England, 52n31, 1w57
Timezone LMT m1w57 (is local mean time)
Data source
From memory
Rodden Rating A
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_piscol.18.gif 29°45' s_mo.18.gif s_leocol.18.gif 22°44 Asc.s_sagcol.18.gif 24°10'

Portrait of Sepharial 
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British journalist and writer of occult and astrological works, a leader in astrological thought for 30 years. He joined the Theosophical movement in 1889, working with the Society as part of the inner circle and was by the side of Madame Blavatsky when she died, 5/08/1891. Extremely well-known in his day, he was a co-worker of Alan Leo, in spite of a certain amount of competitive rivalry, but he did not survive in history with as much acknowledgment as Leo. Tall and thin, Walter had a gentle, mystical manner that belied a sharp tongue with which he exchanged barbs with more of his colleagues than Leo. Devoted to the mystical pursuit, he became a renowned psychic, a dowser, an astrologer and leading occultist of his day.

Walter was age four, with three older brothers and an infant sister, when his dad died. Their mother raised the family alone in Handsworth. By 1881, all the boys were gainfully employed, George and Robert as bank clerks, Bernard and Walter as merchant apprentices. From the time he was 16, he studied the occult with great fascination, reading Scripture and Kabbala, Swedenborg and philosophy, ancient languages and astrology.

His biographer recounts a turning point on 8/05/1886, when Walter has a mystical experience with his crystal ball. At a low point, he focused on the crystal and lost consciousness. For about a fortnight, he was in a mystical state of finding himself. His first book was published the following year, "Astrological Judgment on the Great Eclipse." Writing under his pseudonym of Sepharial, Walter introduced the radix system of directions and was the editor of "Old Moore's Monthly Almanac." He wrote for newspapers for several years and attempted his own publication but found that he had little head for business.

During the 1880s, all four Old brothers became active member of the burgeoning Theosophical Society. Walter and Madame HBP began their correspondence in 1887 and when she moved to England, he took up residence with her in April 1888 as one of 12 members of the inner circle known as the Esoteric Section. After the death of HBP, he remained deeply involved in executive posts within the society. In 1894, there was an internal scandal having to do with letters alleged to have been written by the Mahatmas (or by whom?) in which Walter was implicated and he resigned on 9/27/1894, followed by his close friend Sydney Edge. He was never again involved with Theosophy, though he retained ties to some of the members.

On 4/19/1895, Walter Old officially changed his name to Walter Gornold, based on the Danish family name of Gorm Eld. While attending a lecture in London, he met Marie Moore (Minnie: born 1/29/1864) and they were married on 6/23/1896 at Marylebone Register Office. Daughter Cynthia was born in 1897, Iris in 1898, Ivy in 1899 and at the turn of the century, James Julian, who lived only 17 days. Their son Averil was born in 1903 and Walter Royal, known as Roy, in 1905, concluding with Barbara in 1907. They moved often, depending on whether Sepharial's fortune's were on the rise or fall. He continued to write astrological books but lost the use of one hand through an infected cut and had bouts of malaria. He moved through several more philosophical and religious conversions

He died of a stroke on 12/23/1929 in Hove, England. Three years prior, he had told his daughter Cynthia, who worked as his secretary, that his work would end that year and in July of 1929 he had informed her that a shadow was on her path in December.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • associate relationship with Janduz (born 24 June 1874)
  • business associate/partner relationship with Zariel, Agar (born 3 September 1848)
  • opponent/rival/enemy relationship with Leo, Alan (born 7 August 1860). Notes: Rival


  • Death of Father 1868 (Age four when dad died)
  • Misc. : Mystical Experience 5 August 1886 (Mystical experience with crystal ball)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1887 (First book published)
  • Family : Change residence April 1888 (Moved with Mm. HPB)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Social : Joined group 1889 (Joined Theosophical Society)
  • Social : Left group 27 September 1894 (Resigned from T.S.)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Misc. : Changed Name 19 April 1895 (Changed name to Gornold)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death by Disease 23 December 1929 at 12:00 noon in Hove, England (Stroke, age 65)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Astrology Quarterly 3/1930 quotes data as given in his notebook. (Old Moore 11/1913 stated that his mother had given 1:30 PM from memory and later realized that it was the time of his brother's birth.)

His data is also given under the name of W.R. Old.

Bill Sheeran on ACT, 9/2000, quotes p.27 in the October 1954 issue of AmericanAstrology, " Walter Richard Old was born "at about 1:30am on 3/20/1864 at Richmond House in Handsworth, Birmingham,England. Data drawn from biography by C.Sherburn in Old Moore's Monthly Messenger, VII:2 (Nov 1913) pp30-33, as quoted in Patrick Curry's 'A Confusion of Prophets', London 1992. He changed his name to Walter Gorn Old, and used

Sepharial as an astrological nom de plume."

Kim Farnell's book on the life of Sepharial, "The Astral Tramp," (Ascella Publications, 1998) is a fascinating account of Sepharial's life, his connections with the Theosophists, with Alan Leo and all the famous astrologers of the time. Farnell gives the time of 1:30 PM, "later rectified to 2:03 PM by his own astrological methods," p.132, with his name given as Walter Gorn Old.

An interesting article by Kim Farnell is found here on Skyscript.

To get the Ascendant of 24°32' Sepharial is supposed to have used, one would need to use the birth time 02:09:30 GMT (atr).


  • Traits : Body : Size (Tall and thin)
  • Traits : Personality : Mystical
  • Traits : Personality : Temper (Sharp tongued, debated colleagues)
  • Family : Childhood : Order of birth (Fourth of five)
  • Family : Relationship : Marriage - Compatible (Minnie)
  • Family : Parenting : Kids 1-3 (Seven kids)
  • Family : Parenting : Kids -Traumatic event (One boy died)
  • Personal : Religion/Spirituality : Mystical experience (Mystical state for two weeks)
  • Personal : Religion/Spirituality : Theosophy/Vedanta (Theosophy)
  • Personal : Religion/Spirituality : Rejection/ Leave church (Resigned from Theosophy, scandal)
  • Personal : Misc. : Changed name (Wrote under pseudonym; also changed name)
  • Vocation : Occult Fields : Astrologer (Pro)
  • Vocation : Writers : Astrology (Books and articles)
  • Vocation : Writers : Columnist/ journalist (Journalist)
  • Vocation : Writers : Publisher/ Editor (Almanac)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession
  • Notable : Book Collection : Occult/ Misc. Collection