Traditional Astrology

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Depiction by Albrecht Dürer (1504)[1]

Traditional Astrology is a catch-phrase for the main types of western astrology practised prior to the mid-19th century. It includes the Hellenistic Astrology of the Greeks and Romans, Arabian, Medieval, and Renaissance European systems of astrology. It is sometimes known as Classical Astrology; which does not imply restriction to a Classical period of western history or culture.

Traditional astrology nearly died out in the 1800s and was largely replaced by western Modern Astrology (Revised Astrology) methods by the turn of the 20th century. Traditional astrology is gaining in popularity today, however, often as a combination of different historical techniques in the hands of its practitioners.

The early twentieth century "modern" astrologers hoped to revive astrology, but they disliked traditional astrology's seemingly negative view of human nature and people's negligible prospects for improving their lives. Moreover, becoming a temple-robber, shipwreck victim, or owner of runaway slaves were apparent problems in the past, but have limited relevance for modern urban society. The pioneers of modern astrology essentially streamlined traditional astrology by ignoring many of its techniques; and instead interpreted planets, signs, aspects, and houses through the teachings of psychology or human potential movements. Astrology witnessed a strong revival in the 1970s, including in the hands of practitioners who based their interpretations more on common-sense understandings of human character than allegiance to particular schools of thought.

By the 1990s some astrologers became disatisfied with what they saw as modern astrology's dismissal of astrology's historical foundations, its apparent lack of structure, and its overly optimistic view of human perfectability. Others hoped to retrieve old astrological texts from obscurity by translating them into English. Horary Astrology, which had little place in psychological interpretations of personality, gained a new following.

Today traditionalist and modern astrologers still wage major debates over which branch is best. However, many traditionalists today use modern tools (such as the outer planets) and intepret human character and events in ways that are decidedly oriented towards modern cultural values; while some modern astrologers apply traditional western and Hindu methods in their work.

See also



  • Helena Avelar and Luis Ribeiro, 2010, On the Heavenly Spheres: A Treatise on Traditional Astrology, American Federation of Astrologers
  • Kevin Burk, 2011, Understanding the Birth Chart: A Comprehensive Guide to Classical Interpretation, Llewellyn Publications
Textbook for the astrological certification exam for NCGR, which combines both modern and traditional techniques, while avoiding the negative fatalism that turned many modern astrologers against traditional astrology; maybe an example of a fusion astrology to come
  • Nicholas Campion, 2008, The Dawn of Astrology, Vol. I: Ancient and Classical Worlds, Continuum
    • Campion, 2009, A History of Western Astrology, Vol. II: The Medieval and Modern Worlds, Continuum
  • Denjamin Dykes, 2011, Traditional Astrology for Today: An Introduction. 142 pages. The Cazimi Press. ISBN-10: 1934586226 ISBN-13: 978-1934586228
Excellent Book
  • Thabit Ibn Qurra: De Imaginibus[2], translated and published by Christopher Warnock Review online (Houlding, 2005)
  • Joseph Crane: A Practical Guide to Traditional Astrology. 124 pages. Arhat Publications, 1998 ISBN 978-0966226614

Notes and References

  1. Portrayal of the Persian astrologer Mashallah as a medieval magus
  2. 14th century Latin reproduction of the original 9th century manuscript