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Alan Leo & the revival of modern astrology

Bessie Leo, 1858-1931

Alan Leo (born William Allan), lived from 1860 to 1917. He was an outstanding astrologer, but much more than that, he was an organizer and proselytizer for the art. He took the many existing pieces (those of Raphael, Zadkiel, A.J. Pierce, W.J. Simmonite, etc.) and brought them into a coherent mass. To him, and him alone, we owe the revival of astrology in the 20th century. He founded two magazines, The Astrologer's Magazine, (1890-94), as well as the celebrated Modern Astrology. He wrote numerous books & printed those of his friends, among them Sepharial, H.S. Green, Charubel, and many others.

He was a Theosophist, as were almost all the leading intellectuals of his time (we'd be delighted if more of you read Blavatsky) and founded the Astrological Lodge of the Theosophical Society. Leo was famous in his day & twice attracted the attention of the authorities. He was accused and acquitted of fortune-telling in 1914. He was again accused in 1917, losing in July of that year. He was fined some 25 Pound Sterling (about $2500 in current money). Weeks later he was dead from a stroke. Some think the strain of the second legal case brought on his death. The young Charles Carter was his successor.

The impact of his court cases was to be far-reaching. Advised by counsel that predicting vague generalities would spare him further legal harassment, in the last years of his life he turned from "event oriented astrology" to character description & psychological tendencies which unfortunately led to the astro-psychology rubbish of the present day.

(These notes prepared from James Herschel Holden's A History of Horoscopic Astrology, AFA, 1996, and, Geoffrey Cornelius's The Moment of Astrology.)

AstroAmerica's edition

Destiny Books edition

Your Choice of Edition



Publisher's announcement (not in the Destiny Books edition)
The Rational Basis of Astrology
Example chart (not in the Destiny Books edition)
Explanatory introduction
Important note
Reference chart

Section 1: The ruling planet:
1. The ascendant & the rising sign
2. The ruling planet
3. The position of the ruling planet in the houses
4. The position in the signs of the Sun as ruler
5. The position in the signs of the Moon as ruler
6. The position in the signs of Mercury as ruler
7. The position in the signs of Venus as ruler
8. The position in the signs of Mars as ruler
9. The position in the signs of Jupiter as ruler
10. The position in the signs of Saturn as ruler
11. The house position of the planet Uranus
12. The house position of the planet Neptune

Section 2: Individuality:
13. Individual characteristics

Section 3: Personality:
14. Personal characteristics
15. The Moon's house position

Section 4: Mentality:
16. Mental qualifications
17. Mercury's house position
18. The positions & aspects of the Sun, Moon & planets

Section 5: The houses of the horoscope:
19. (ii) Finance
20. (iii) Travel, etc.
21. (iv) Environment
22. (v) Enterprise
23. (vi) Sickness
24. (vii) Marriage
25. Marriage prospects as indicated by Venus' position
26. (viii) Legacies
27. (ix) Philosophy
28. (x) Profession
29. (xi) Friends
30. (xii) Occultism

Section 6: Summary of the horoscope:
31. Summaries: Planetary positions; Triplicities; Qualities; Sun-and-Moon positions: Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable, Fire, Air, Water, Earth
32. Supplementary paragraphs: Rising planet; Personal colouring; General aspects; Planets in signs
33. The Polarities: 144 delineations of Sun & Moon through all 12 sign possibilities
34. A few explanatory paragraphs

Section 7: The progression of the horoscope:
35. The future prospects: Solar aspects; Interplanetary or "mutual" aspects; Lunar positions & aspects


An example delineation: King George's nativity
How may a King's horoscope be known?


Alan Leo had a short & busy life. Of all the books he created (some he wrote himself, some he produced), this may well be his masterpiece. It is hard to fully grasp the wealth of detail it contains, as it contains so very much. I am amiss not to have found & reprinted it long ago.

This book first appeared in 1910. Alan Leo himself described it as the most remarkable book ever published. In his previous books Leo told us how to calculate and interpret charts, with a distinctly Theosophical slant.

In this book, Leo (1860-1917), gives the prize secrets of the astrologer’s craft. Among them, delineations for the Ruler of the Ascendant (aka chart ruler), including by sign and house. More broadly, he delineates each of the planets through the twelve houses in order to turn it about and delineate the rulers of those houses, based on the nature of the houses themselves: Finance (2), Travel (3), Environment (5), Enterprise (5), Sickness (6), Marriage and marriage prospects (7), Legacies (8), Philosophy (9), Profession (10), Friends (11), and the Occult (12). What do these houses in your chart say about you? Get the book and find out!

Based on his lifetime’s study, Leo gives succinct chart summaries. What life will be like if the majority of planets in your chart were in the East or West, above or below the horizon, or the majority in fire, or air, or water, or earth signs, as well as cardinal, fixed or mutable. He gives special emphasis to the luminaries (Sun and Moon), delineating the pair of them both by element, as well as in all 144 possible combinations of signs (polarities).

In every chart there is a rising planet. Leo delineates it. The Moon’s sign at birth gives a distinct color to the aura. Leo will tell you what yours is. What will the future bring? Leo gives delineations for progressed planets, including the progressed Moon by both sign and house. He concludes the book with a delineation for the King of England, George V.

In his life, Alan Leo reintroduced astrology to the western world, a phenomenal achievement.

Special note: I reprinted this book late in 2010 thinking it was out of print. I was wrong. There is a previous Destiny Books edition with limited distribution. So I am offering both. Are there any differences? No, no serious ones. AstroAmerica is on white paper; Destiny Books on creme. AstroAmerica's is slightly larger in format, but the type is the same size in both. AstroAmerica's looks slightly better printed, Destiny is a bit weak, but the differences are slight. So you have a choice. It's a good book, whomever prints it.

Click here for an excerpt from the Astrology Classics edition.

Astrology Classics, 328 pages.
Destiny Books edition, 325 pages

Read the book? Want to tell the world? How many stars (1-5) would you give this book?

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, 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.

Read the book? Want to tell the world? How many stars (1-5) would you give this book?

THE PROGRESSED HOROSCOPE: Alan Leo's book on forecasting: Progressions, returns, transits & primary directions - Alan Leo, $29.95
Contents: Preface; Introduction; Horoscope of the author

Part 1: The Progressed Horoscope:
1. Heredity, environment, character
2. Character is destiny
3. Why directions sometimes fail
4. Fate & freewill
5. The author's system
6. The progression of the horoscope
7. How to calculate the progressed horoscope
8. How to calculate directions
9. The progressed horoscopes of Queen Mary & Mrs. Annie Besant
10. Considerations to be borne in mind when reading directions
11. Subdivisions of signs

Part 2: The Effects of Directions:
12. The progressed ascendant
13. Solar aspects
14. Mutual aspects
15. Lunar position & aspects
16. Directions to the midheaven & ascendant
Concluding note to Part 2

Part 3: Solar Revolutions & Transits:
17. Solar revolutions or birthday maps
18. Transits over Sun, Moon & planets
19. Transits through houses

Part 4: Primary Directions:
Example horoscope: Mrs. Annie Besant
Preliminary note to primary directions
Speculum for Mrs. Besant's horoscope
20. Trigonometrical formulae & tables
21. The speculum
22. Mundane directions to angles
23. Solar & lunar mundane directions
24. Mundane parallels & rapt parallels
25. Zodiacal directions to angles
26. Zodiacal directions between Sun, Moon & planets, without latitude
27. Zodiacal directions between Sun, Moon & planets, with latitude
28. On equating arcs of direction. Measures of time

1. The progressed horoscope in detail
2. The relation between primary & secondary directions: a suggestion
3. How to calculate the actual day on which a given aspect falls due
4. A simple way of calculating primary directions to angles
5. The unity of all systems of directing


Comment: First published in 1905, this is a comprehensive book on progressions, with solar returns, transits & primaries thrown in for good measure. As was typical of many of his day, Leo writes to exhort us to our better natures. He does not merely describe what may happen to us, rather, in many of the delineations, he encourages us to do better under trying circumstances.

Progressed delineations include parallels, conjunctions, semi-sextiles, semi-squares, sextiles, squares, trines, sesquiquadrates, inconjuncts & oppositions. Leo derived these obscure aspects from a decade of intense chart reading. He includes progressed Sun & Moon to natal planets, as well as progressed Mercury, Venus & Mars to natal planets, which include Neptune. For aspects of the progressed Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus & Neptune, Leo observes these move so slowly they cannot form aspects that were not already within orbs at birth. Leo also delineates the ascendant, as it changes signs (and triplicities in the signs), the directed ascendant & midheaven aspecting natal planets, and the progressed Moon through the houses, as well as through the signs.

For non-British readers, Queen Mary was the consort of King George V. She lived from 1867 to 1953. Annie Besant (1847-1933) was, at the time Leo wrote this book, the leading Theosophist. She went on to become an early leader for Indian independence, for which she is still remembered in India.

I have long thought this to be the best of Leo's major books. Of them, Charles Carter once said, They were not well put together but one could find a very great deal of information in them if one knew where to look. So, look carefully!

Click for an excerpt.

Astrology Classics, 353 pages.

The Astrology Center of America

207 Victory Lane, Bel Air, MD 21014
Tel: 410-638-7761; Toll-free (orders only): 800-475-2272

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