The integrated conference program we are planning is designed to bring out to greatest effect the continuities, discrepancies, and divergences in the transmission of the Western astrological tradition, as well as to identify any material that was lost or added along the way. The speakers have all agreed to continue working together even up to the last minute to coordinate their presentations for the purpose of accomplishing this goal. They are all excited about the chance to serve as midwives to a new astrological renaissance.
It is a matter of historical fact that episodes of renaissance were catalyzed, or at the very least promoted, by periods of intense translation activity. There is something about reconnecting with the roots of a tradition that has always resulted in the invigoration of a given discipline. Yet, this has not taken place in the field of astrology for a very long time. At long last it is happening once again.
The moment of conception of this current movement may be hard to pinpoint with exactitude, as is often the case with conception charts. Certainly it can be traced back to the ‘80s where it was concurrent with the English revival of William Lilly and the forceful advocacy of Medieval astrology by Robert Zoller. Project Hindsight has been at the vanguard of this movement since 1993.
However, we believe that when historians look back at the upcoming conclave, they will see it as marking the nativity of such a renaissance, its true birth chart. We hope that there will be many witnesses to record this event, sparing later historians the need for rectification.
But let's return to the details of the conclave program. The first day will be dedicated to the pre-Hellenistic Babylonian and Egyptian antecedents. The Babylonian legacy will be studied in some detail. Here you will be treated to an interpretive and technical exposition of a number of important concepts that are for the most part unfamiliar to modern astrologers, such as the ascensional times of the signs, the solar phase cycle of the planets, their minor periods, and the prenatal lunation. All of these concepts were subsequently incorporated into Hellenistic astrology. We will also give a synopsis of the decanic astrology of the Egyptians, which may very well have provided the prototype for the later Hellenistic concepts of house and rulership, and at least broach the subject of the interpretation of decanic iconography. The transition to Hellenistic astrology will bring us face to face with the vexing question of the sidereal versus the tropical zodiac.
The next three days will be devoted to an exposition of Hellenistic natal astrology designed to bring out its systematic character, resolving it into its four major components: the analysis of planetary condition, universal techniques, topical methods, and time-lord procedures. Whenever possible, the various concepts and practices of the Hellenistic system will be immediately compared and contrasted to their Medieval Latin counterparts (as represented by Bonatti). It is impossible to do justice to the richness and complexity of the Hellenistic system in the available time, so rather than attempt to cover the entire system superficially, we will deal with representative parts in considerable detail and with full exemplification. We want you all to go home with a trove of new and tested techniques to add to your astrological toolbox. In furtherance of this end, we are also planning to have hands-on tutorial sessions most evenings.
On the fifth day, the emphasis will shift to Medieval astrology itself, highlighting those concepts and practices that have no Hellenistic ancestry. This segment will conclude with a synopsis of Indian astrology that will demonstrate the unmistakable imprint that Hellenistic astrology left on the indigenous astrology of India, and also sketch out how and when it began to transform this Hellenistic material and differentiate into the form in which it is now practiced.
The sixth day will be a change of pace. It will begin with an exposition of the astrological system of the Renaissance astrologer Morin. What is interesting about his system is that he has stripped down the Medieval Latin system to the point where it has the look and feel of modern astrology, although he still advocates a causal framework for it. The concepts and techniques that he preserves are basically those now used in modern astrology. We will then direct our attention to the reconceptualization of this same material in the 20 th century at the hands of Dane Rudhyar.
Having gained an appreciation of whence the Western astrological tradition came from, and how we got to where we are now, on the final day we intend to address the question: Whither the tradition? As modern astrologers, what should we do with the influx of all these ancient concepts and techniques? How should we regard modern practices that clearly originated as mistakes in the translation or transmission of the earlier material? Looked at in another way, what are advocates of traditional astrology supposed to do with those imposing modern planets, with those pesky asteroids, or with key innovations of modern times such as midpoint doctrine, relationship astrology, or relocational astrology? Simply ignore them as if they did not exist? On this final day we will propose a program for reintegrating some of the very real gains of modern astrology into the tradition.
Before concluding, let me say that the spirit of renaissance is not the same as that of antiquarianism. Renaissance is not a revival of the past, but a renewal, just as a solar return — Hellenistically, at least — takes its vitality and basic character from the natal chart, yet adds something entirely new of its own. Although it is often difficult to predict the new direction a field will take when renewed in this way, in the past it has always dramatically raised the field to new heights.
Let us show you the tradition at work — and working. Let's see how those ancient lights shine forth in a modern sky! Come, if you can, and be a witness to this astrological renaissance in the making.
Robert H. Schmidt