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Astrological Dictionaries, Encyclopedias

One of the more useful reference books, and scarce as hen's teeth. The requirement to write a dictionary is simply a vast knowledge of many diverse areas of astrology. The best, in our view, is Nicholas deVore's Encyclopedia of Astrology. The most unique is Carter's Encyclopaedia of Psychological Astrology. Cornell is here (see also under Medical) because there's so much more than astrological medicine in it - get a copy and find out for yourself. The rest are the unique points of view of the individual authors. All of them belong on your bookshelf.

Indicates a book on our Top Ten list. If you would like to find more books like it, click on the star.

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ASTROLOGY - Nicholas de Vore, $29.95
Comment: Back in print! In a fine new paperback edition, this is the best of the many astro-reference books, one you will use constantly. Among thousands of entries are the complete terminologies for natal, mundane, electional & horary astrologies, as well as definitive articles on Arabian Parts, Aspects, Calendars, Cycles, Degrees, Dignities, Directions, Eclipses, Houses, Planets, Ptolemaic Astrology, Retrogrades, Ruling signs of major cities, Signs of the Zodiac, the Solar System, and much more. The section on eclipses runs 36 pages & includes solar & lunar eclipses from 1800-2000 listed by date & by zodiacal degree. It includes the 19 Saros cycles from 600 AD to 2100 AD. Under Degrees, deVore gives degree meanings similar to those of Carter. In the extensive entry on Houses, he gives the meanings for each house, in natal, mundane & (depending on the house) various other situations: In a court of law, in an organization, in an ingress, in a national figure, etc. The entry for the Invariable Plane (one of several contributions by Charles Harvey) is a fascinating discussion of (among other things) Mahayuga, Root Races & solar eclipses in ancient Palestine. There is a fine, 9 page analysis of Ptolemaic astrology, along with how the Galactic Center relates to the Solar System, as well as definitive entries on every other facet of astrology.

Complete, concise, informative, highly intelligent: Long a classic, still essential for all astrologers.

Nicholas de Vore, 1882-1960, was President of the New York based Astrological Research Society. Click here for a pdf extract.

Astrology Classics, 435 pages, paper.

Alan Leo

ALAN LEO'S DICTIONARY OF ASTROLOGY - edited by Vivian Robson, $22.95


Selected topics of interest:
Corrections, mean and standard, table
Fixed Stars
Herbs of the Planets
Hindu Astrology, by Sepharial
Horary Astrology
Hours, Planetary
House Division
Houses, Mundane
Quadruplicity, or Quality
Rising Sign
Trigonometrical Formulae

Index (complete list of entries)


In 1917 at the height of his fame, Alan Leo was charged with fortune-telling, which was illegal, and taken to court. He had been tried on similar charges in 1914, which had been dismissed. But the charges brought in 1917 stuck. Leo was given a hefty fine. As winning on appeal seemed unlikely, Leo paid the fine and went to Cornwall for a rest, where on 30 August, 1917, he unexpectedly died of a cerebral hemorrhage, aged 57. His friends blamed it on the strain of the court proceedings.

At the time of his death, this Dictionary was one of Leo’s unfinished projects. Installments of the Dictionary had appeared in Leo’s monthly magazine, Modern Astrology, up to the end of the article “Horoscope” (pgs. 130-136). That the project was long-standing is hinted by the article on Hindu Astrology (pgs. 76-101), written by Sepharial some years before and which Leo had presumably purloined. More material was in preparation, but Leo’s untimely death brought matters to a halt.

By the early 1920’s, Vivian Robson had succeeded Leo as editor of Modern Astrology, a post he shared with Bessie Leo, the widow. An intense, scholarly type, Robson stumbled across bound copies of Leo’s incomplete book while he was compiling his own astrological dictionary. At the suggestion of Bessie, Robson abandoned his dictionary and set about to complete Leo’s, using the many notes and fragments that Leo had left.

Which was published in 1929 as Alan Leo’s final book. Shortly thereafter Bessie and Vivian had a falling out, whereupon Vivian left. This book was to be an orphan.

Like its precursor, James Wilson’s Dictionary of Astrology of 1819 (immediately below), Leo’s book contains several full-blown monographs. Both books have lengthy entries on Horary Astrology, for example. These articles tend to break the flow of the book. For this reason the current publishers, AstroAmerica, have added headings to each page, that the reader may know whereabouts in the book he may be. The publishers have also added a list of principal articles to the front, as well as a complete list of entries (forming an index) in the back.

Alan Leo’s Dictionary of Astrology is again in print. Profit from the wealth of knowledge it contains! Click here for an excerpt.

Astrology Classics, 209 pages.

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DICTIONARY OF ASTROLOGY - James Wilson Esq., $29.95

Comment: James Wilson wrote his Dictionary of Astrology in 1819. Based in large measure on a close study of the works of Ptolemy and Placidus (among many others), it is a quirky, highly personal view of the ancient science. It was acclaimed the finest of all astrological dictionaries. Wilson's goal was to force the student to think about some of the basic assumptions in astrology.

In the Preface, he writes:

If I had any motive more prominent than the rest (beyond promoting the cause of truth, which, I trust, will always be the principal) for publishing this work, it was a desire to injure those harpies who gather together scarce books of science, and hide them from the perusal of mankind, merely for the sake of gain, which, after all, can be but trifling: men like these are the enemies of knowledge, and ought to be severely punished in every civilized nation. This treatise will render most of their hoards comparatively useless, for I have been careful to insert the substance of all they contain relating to astrology, whether true or false, adding occasionally some remarks of my own to distinguish the latter as far as I am able, that every student may be enabled to found his own conviction on his own experience.
Rather than the short, arid articles typical of specialized dictionaries, Wilson offers extensive entries on (Primary) Directions, Faces, Figures, Forms of the Body, Horary Astrology, Marriage, Part of Fortune, Weather, the judgment of Revolutions, Progressions, Ingresses, Riches, Promittors, as well as many more.

A few years after this book, the author published his translation of Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos, one of only a handful of men to have done so.

The Dictionary of Astrology is a book of surprises. It will repay study.

Click here for an excerpt.

Astrology Classics, 442 pages.

New paper edition:


Author's portrait; letter of introduction; Abbreviations & symbols used in the book; Cornell's birth chart; Introduction to the 2nd edition; Foreward; the Encyclopaedia.

Comment: From page 502, on Medical Astrology: In my years as a physician, I have, by the use of Astrology, been able to very quickly locate the seat of the disease, the cause of the trouble, the time when the patient began to feel uncomfortable, as based on the birth data of the patient, and this without even touching or examining the patient, and my intense desire to get this knowledge and wisdom before students and Healers in a classified form, is the reason for this Encyclopaedia.... When once you have discovered the cause of the disease, and understand its philosophy and the relation of the patient to the great Scheme of Nature, the matter of treatment I leave to you, and according to the System and Methods you may be using.

This is by far the best book ever written about medical astrology. Though it dates from 1933, it is, in fact, the best medieval astrological medical reference ever put in print. It's not that Cornell set out to write a medieval treatise, but that the works he used in his daily practice, which he exhaustively cross-indexed to create this book, were themselves ultimately basd on the best medieval knowledge. Which was sifted through Cornell's practice in the early days of the 20th century.

In this book you will not find techniques of treatment, since, as Cornell says, once you know what's wrong, there are many different ways that will successfully treat. This book excels in diagnosis, in other words, if the symptom is X, then the astrological cause is Y. Which becomes the key to reading the patient's chart, or the decumbiture. This diagnosis is not given in current medical jargon (which is nearly incomprehensible, even to those who are trained, and which changes from decade to decade), but in traditional language. The same language, in fact, as you will find in Culpeper, Saunders, Lilly, Blagrave & many others. This book is the key that will open all of these & many more. I learned this by accident while preparing a glossary for Blagrave. Of all the sources I consulted, of all the people I asked, Cornell was head & shoulders above the rest.

Click here for a pdf extract.

November 2010: Now in paperback at a much lower price. I am pleased with the new paperback edition. It is sturdier than I expected. - Dave

Astrology Classics, 958 pages, paperback.


Comment: Subtitled, An Encyclopaedia of Character & Disease, this was the result of decades of study of hundreds of horoscopes. Carter discovered zodiacal degrees that produce abscesses, poor vision, goiter, medical ability, jaundice, immorality, musical talent, spinal curvature, oratorical ability, insanity, alcoholism, asthma & much more. He found general astrological guidelines for illnesses & personality traits such as boredom, love of animals, hayfever, imagination, rashness, rambling speech, stoicism, satire & much more. Specific degree areas for specific traits, as well as general guidelines for many more.

In the Foreword, the author writes,

This work is a attempt to produce a useful astrological Encyclopaedia of Character, and, as far as data permit, of Disease....

Some reference might perhaps at this point be made to the study of the local zodiacal influences which are frequently mentioned herein. Even from the earliest times certain parts of the Zodiac, usually identified with nebulae or fixed stars, have been considered to possess peculiar powers. Medieval writers also published lists of degrees to which they assigned special names & qualities, such as azimene, pitted, smoky....

Recently Mr. Maurice Wemyss has published, in the pages of Modern Astrology, numerous articles dealing largely with degree-influences, treated in pairs of opposites - 0 degrees Aries-Libra, and so on - and it is now widely held that the study of the individual characters of degrees is one of the most promising fields of astrological research....

My own investigations in this direction, while stimulated by Mr. Wemyss's valuable work, are the results of original study. I am not prepared to say whether the influences in question are inherent in the degree, or for some reason originate in a wider zodiacal area. In some instances the peculiarity seems very local; in others much more extensive. In some cases it seems to derive from one degree only; in others, from a pair of opposite degrees; in others again, from the corresponding degrees in the four signs of the quadruplicity. In any event, the reality & value of these local effects are beyond question, although our knowledge of them is in its infancy. It should be noted that the values of degree-areas are often to be seen in progressions as well as in the natal figure. (pgs 5-6)

Sometimes known as Carter's Little Green Book. Often witty, always surprising, a book you will use forever. Includes six nativities of interest, and a table of local influences mentioned in the book. Click here for a PDF extract.

Astrology Classics, 199 pages, paper.

ASTROLOGY & ASTRONOMY, 420 Royalty-free designs, CD-ROM & book - Ernst & Johanna Lehner, $14.95

Comment: The illustrations in this book, from 2006, were selected from earlier volumes by the two authors, going back to 1950. Astrological illustrations include European, Chinese, Mexican (Aztec?), Native American, Mayan, Egyptian, Rosicrucian, palmistry & others. Astrological glyphs (in various styles) include the four major asteroids. The majority of the illustrations, as would be presumed, are traditional European woodcuts. While the book is well-printed, and while many of the illustrations are quite detailed, all of them are small. They are meant to support the CD-ROM.

Every image in the book has been scanned onto the CD-ROM at 600 dpi, and saved in the following six formats: BMP, EPS, GIF, JPEG, PICT & TIFF. JPEG & GIF, as is generally known, are immediately internet-compatible, needing no further conversion. All the files are keyed to the illustrations, making finding a specific illustration a snap. I would guess that many of these files could be enlarged quite a bit. The next time I am in need of an illustration for a book cover, I'm going to find it in this book. It's a good one.

Dover, 48 pages, oversize format. Also includes CD-ROM (Windows & Mac compatible).

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