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Degree books, page 2:

Not the Sabian Symbols

Degree books, page 1: The Sabians

1. Other Mystical Symbol Sets:

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

DEGREES OF THE ZODIAC SYMBOLIZED, two contrasting sets of degree symbols - Charubel & Sepharial, $14.95
Contents: Charubel's section runs from pgs 1 - 46, Sepharial's section runs from pg 47 to 136.

Comment: For every degree of the zodiac, there is a corresponding symbol. Look up the degree of your ascendant (or sun, or moon, or ruling planet) & that is your personal symbol. Of many such books, M.E. Jones's Sabian Symbols is today the best known - but these two sets, one by Charubel & another by Sepharial, first published a century ago, are, by consensus, by far the best. Find out why!

Charubel (1826-1908), was the pseudonym of John Thomas, a Welsh clairvoyant, occultist & healer. As a young man he studied for the ministry, but when forced to choose between religious life & his psychic abilities, he chose the later. He founded (and later dissolved) an occult order. He published numerous books & was editor of several periodicals. His symbols were the result of his own investigations & were first published in Alan Leo's Astrologer's Magazine in 1893.

Sepharial (1864-1929) claimed his symbol set was a translation of La Volasfera, by Antonio Borelli (or Bonelli), but attempts to find the original have failed. (It would not surprise me if Sepharial found the original on the astral plane. He was comfortable on the astrals & there is a lot of unique stuff out there.) Until they were supplanted by Jones' Sabian Symbols, these two were the most popular of the many degree-symbol sets.

Click here for a PDF of the intro & the beginning of Charubel's section.

Astrology Classics, 136 pages.

THE 360 DEGREES OF THE ZODIAC - Adriano Carelli, $20.00
Contents: Foreword; Instructions for the use of this handbook; Aries; Taurus; Gemini; Cancer; Leo; Virgo; Libra; Scorpio; Sagittarius; Capricorn; Aquarius; Pisces.

Comment: This is the result of careful study of the degree sets of Pietro d'Abano (aka Johannes Angelus), the Theban Calendar (attributed to P. Christian), and the better-known sets by Charubel & Sepharial. Carelli believes the reason these four are different is that each author understood only a fraction of what each degree is trying to express. He has searched to find the core idea for each degree, which, he says, lead him to conclusions that were often strikingly different from his printed sources. One of the best of the degree books.

AFA, 253 pages.

DEGREES OF THE ZODIAC - Donna Walter Henson, $14.00
Based on the author's 25 years of observation, also on these books: Fixed Stars & Constellations in Astrology, by Vivian Robson; Fixed Stars & Degrees of the Zodiac Analyzed, by EC Matthews; Encyclopaedia of Psychological Astrology, by C.E.O. Carter; 360 Degrees of the Zodiac, by Adriano Carelli. Henson says her work should be used with orbs, but doesn't say how big (hopefully not more than one degree on either side). Her entries read similar to Carter's & as she admits, he was an influence on the book. 23 Cancer: Music; denotes the seer; a charming person who may use his gifts for a good cause; a good critical writer; he can blend truth with imagination to make his works interesting; literature; has the audacity to be different; gastric ulcer; blood vessels. (pg. 19) First published in 1981. 74 pages including index. AFA, paper.

THE DEGREES - W. David Crowl, $18.95





This book is similar to Donna Walter Henson's book (above), in that the author has dissected a great many charts to find what is common to each degree of the zodiac. These are mostly Sun degrees, and they start at 0 and go to 29 of each sign. For each degree, the author gives its essence, and then a list of people who had it prominently in their charts, noting when it was not the Solar degree. Some typical entries:
0 Scorpio: Scorpio comes in with a great deal of strength - strength of character and of intelligence. But these people are also good-natured. Plus the usual big ego. But people with this degree can have a lot of trouble with partners, "It's my way or the highway." Actress Sarah Bernhardt, author Michael Crichton, dictator Rafael Trujillo, actor Kevin Kline.

1 Scorpio: The green-eyed monster. A strong music degree. Also a scientific side. A strong leader. Some of these people have problems with partners or lose them. A jealous degree. Composer Georges Bizet, composer Maurice Ravel (Jupiter), singer Helen Reddy, scientist Anton van Leeuwenhoek, astrologer R.C. Jansky, King James II.

2 Scorpio: Strength of mind and character. Good degree for a politician. The statesman. There is also a concern for the mystical and the occult in early Scorpio degrees. And the traveller. Artist Pablo Picasso, explorer Richard E. Byrd, politican Francois Mitterand, politican Hillary Clinton, actor John Cleese, singer Katy Perry.

At the beginning of the book the author gives some fascinating highlights. Here are some of them:
  • All beginning degrees are ego degrees. Not just Aries.
  • All ending degrees have a difficulty. They are not characteristic of either the outgoing sign or the incoming sign, and sometimes they are a subtle blending of both.
  • Middle degrees (15) are usually odd, and not really typical of the sign.
  • All 13 degrees are unlucky. . . .
  • All 3 degrees are powerful, and usually an area of genius. The 26 degrees are usually strong, too. (pgs. 1-2)
This is far and away my favorite book of this sort. It is utterly fascinating.

AFA, 125 pages.

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

This was written in 1917, in Australia. Contents: The wealth of information that comes from this old text will amaze you. Reprinted from the original source in the 1964 AFA's Today's Astrologer, it was finally reissued in book form. Each degree of the zodiac is described with its planetary vibration, symbol and interpretation. When ascendant, midheaven or planet has additional minutes of arc, use the interpretation for the next degree. A valuable tool for interpreting natal charts and other astrological specialties. 194 pages. AFA, paper.

THE STARS & YOUR FUTURE - M.C. Jain, $10.00
This is a re-working of Kozminsky's book. More than half of the symbols are exactly identical, as are the explanations for them. In many places Jain adds his own notes to Kozminsky's framework & occasionally he takes an entirely different tack. The old name for Uranus was Herschel, after its discoverer. Kozminsky, writing in 1917, calls Uranus Uranus, but Jain, writing in the early 1970's, calls Uranus Herschel. In his extensive introduction Jain cites many western & Hindu authors but nowhere does he mention Kozminsky. Another odd quirk to these two books: Kozminsky's book is presumably to be used with the tropical zodiac, Jain's sample charts are set in the sidereal zodiac. At the moment, these two zodiacs differ by 22 degrees, or in other words, by 22 symbols. This is not to throw stones at Jain. A good book is a good book & every now & then you have to dig one up, redo & republish, which is what Jain has done. 166 pages. Sagar Publications, New Delhi. Paper.

2: Rational/Scientific

The "rational" sort assign career traits, degree by degree. These are presumably weighted to birthdays & so represent the sun's position:

Contents: One of Canada's leading astrological researchers divides each sign into 30 separate interpretations - for a total of 360 interpretations - to give more insight into your life and others. 235 pages including one page for the bibliography and glossary. Full Moon Books, paper.

This is Carter's masterpiece & clearly the greatest of the various degree books. Carter covers about half the degrees of the zodiac. His method was to assemble charts with some trait in common & track down the influences behind the trait. Sometimes the result was mere general guidelines, but in many cases Carter found precise degrees for the trait in question. These degree areas are compiled in the back of the book. Among some 400 entries, find the astrological factors behind chills, the love of club life, boredom, imagination, immorality, love of nature, rashness, rambling speech, stoicism, spinal curvature, longevity & much, 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.

Postscript No. 1: And here's one that got away:

Entry 306 in Gardner's Bibliotheca Astrologica:

Engel (Johann) Astrologicall Opticks: wherein are represented the Faces of every Signe, with the Images of each Degree in the Zodiack; thereby describing the Nature and Quality of every Person, &c. Compiled at Venice by Johann Regiomontanus and Johannes Angelus. Translated by R. Turner. 12mo. London, 1655.

To which Gardner adds:
Collation (xvi) 184 pp. This work was written by J. Angelus, who had it from a learned Jew, Even Ezra, who in his turn obtained it from the Egyptians. There are Prefaces by William Lilly and John Gadbury. It is a fine work.

This same book also turns up again in Gardner, this time as entry 1083:

Under Raphael No. 2
A Description of the Faces and Degrees of the Zodiac as given in the Ancient Authors, being applicable to Genethliacal and Horary Astrology. 8vo. 60 pp. London, 1879

Further confirmation of the identity of Raphael's book is given by Sepharial in La Volasfera, pg. 47:

"The first of these [degree books] is the Theban Calendar, attributed to P. Christian, a man of singular occult attainments closely associated with the work of Eliphas Levi, the Abbe Constant. (footnote: No modern version of this work is extant, so far as we are aware - Ed. (Alan Leo)) The second is that of John Angel (Johannes Angelus) who wrote about the sixteenth century, and whose work is to be found embodied in The Faces and Degrees of the Zodiac, reprinted by "Raphael".

Have I got your interest yet? Now you know why I like Gardner's book so much! Anybody have a copy of either of these? I'd like to hear from you.

And another note: These faces can be found in Avraham Ibn-Ezra's The Beginning of Wisdom, which Meira Epstein translated, and Rob Hand published, in 1998. This is the "Learned Jew" to whom Gardner alludes.

Postscript No. 2: An Overview.

In A History of Horoscopic Astrology, James Herschell Holden surveys eleven sets of degree symbols, from antiquity up to 1951. Since the 1950's Holden says, there have been many more degree symbol sets, several of them shown above. On pages 203-208 he racks up the first four degrees of Sagittarius in each of these eleven sets, discovers they have nothing in common & declares them all rubbish. But that's Holden for you. 359 pages including bibliography and indices for: notes, persons and publishers, and subject and book titles.

Degree books, page 1: The Sabians

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