Ep 12 – Reconciling Modern and Traditional Astrology

The Astrology Podcast

Transcript of Episode 12, titled:

Robert Hand on Reconciling Modern and Traditional Astrology

With Chris Brennan and Robert Hand

Episode originally released on December 9th, 2013.


Note: This is a transcript of an audio podcast. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio version, which includes inflections that may not translate well when written out. Transcripts are created by using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and the text probably contains some errors and differences from the audio version. Please submit any corrections to Chris Brennan by email at astrologue@gmail.com.

Transcribed by Gülşen Altay

Transcription released November 10th, 2018

Copyright © 2016 TheAstrologyPodcast.com

CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi. I am Chris Brennan and you are listening to the astrology podcast. Today is Monday, December 9, 2013 and this is the 12th episode of the show. You can find the show at the astrologypodcast.com and you can also listen to us on iTunes.

My guest today is world renowned astrologer Robert Hand who is known for books such as Planets in Transit, Planets in Composite and Horoscope Symbols. He is getting ready to present a two day online webinar on Whole Sign Houses later this week on December 14 and 15 and you can find out more information about it on his website at arhatmedia.com.

Our topic today is rebuilding the links between modern and traditional astrology.

With that introduction out of the way.  

Rob, welcome to the show.

ROBERT HAND: Hi. Glad to be here.

CHRIS BRENNAN: All right. Well, I am looking forward to your webinar on Whole Sign Houses and that actually ties in very nicely with our topic today. Because recently you have been writing some articles and some blog posts on Facebook about something that you have become very interested in which is rebuilt in the links between modern and  traditional astrology and I think it is interesting because I was talking with a friend recently and we are talking about how, because everybody seems to know your name and then you are certainly one of the most famous astrologers in the world certainly within the astrological community if not the most famous astrologer. But it is interesting because we are talking about how that is or why everybody knows your name and it seems to oftentimes go back to Planets in Transit  especially until lesser extent maybe  Planets in Composite. Is that true?  Would you say that is how you got well-known?

ROBERT HAND: That is part of it and I have also been very active on the lecture circuit from most of this period. I am little less so now and doing workshops and things that are that sort  and I have been involved in astrological organizations. So there is a number of reasons but Planets in Transit  is certainly a major factor.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. Yeah and I know you have done a lot of work. You are president of the NCGR at one point and you are involved in different   translation projects. You are obviously very well known to professionals but it is interesting because even people like myself who came into the astrological community relatively recently in a past decade or two know your name largely through Planets in Transit  and some of those things. But that is interesting because you wrote some of those books quite a while ago now in the ‘70s and ‘80s and your approach to astrology has changed somewhat since that time or pretty significantly but it seems like a lot of the people that may only know you from those books don’t realize that. But it seems like that change started in the ‘90s when you got interested in traditional astrology.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah. I always actually have been interested in traditional astrology but the material wasn’t available. Not even Lilly. That happened in the ‘80s and Robert Zoller was my first real untried to it. He came and talk for a little group of us at the early meetings of what became the New York chapter of  NCGR, actually that was the first chapter of NCGR and I was rather struck by the fact that he would actually learn Latin in order to read the stuff in the original and but I continued basically following. I won’t say I ever really did conventional modern astrology. I always did, I was more into cosmobiology the Ebertin’s School because it had a certain kind of definite  in the …….. which interestingly enough is rather like that of traditional astrology all of the techniques completely different and you know it is sort of the funny thing is the even divide my astrology career into two phases. The first phase of when I was doing workshops for I had to teach everybody to use the 90 degree dial  to look at  midpoints and the second phase rather to show everybody a table of essential dignities so they did not use that.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and the dial phase, I mean that comes through really clearly in Horoscope Symbols that that was the direction you were headed in  and you even…, I think you told me once that Ebertin and some of the delineations in Combination of  Stellar Influences were part of the main influence on the delineations in Planets in Transit.

Right? Or some influence on the delineations.

ROBERT HAND: Some influence, mainly the manner of approach. I mean if you look at one of my delineations and one of his combinations you will see that I obviously flashed it  out a lot from somewhere and basically I did in fact look out of people who written on transits mostly as a negative reference point, his little book rather on transits was very thirst but quite usable because again it was clear and then I flashed it out based on my own understandings.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah. I mean there is certainly a big difference between the one brief sentence that Ebertin would give for whatever planetary combination in the page long delineation for the transits that you ended up producing.



ROBERT HAND: I had debate because that was written as a text for a computer program which is in somewhat modified form is now available for Astrodienst or astro.com.


ROBERT HAND: Because another reason why I have known outside of the professional circles.

CHRIS BRENNAN: That is really interesting. I didn’t know that it was originally written  for a computer program in the ‘70s and then yeah, astro.com is certainly that is how I originally became familiar with your  work through those delineations and I think a lot of people now it is sort of introduced your work to whole generation of astrologers in the past decade because everybody uses astro.com and everyone therefore reads your delineations on a pretty much daily basis.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah. I have to say that some of the delineations have been modified beyond recognition but  it is basically my work. Yes.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah. I was doing one recently because I was gonna quote you for delineation of Saturn going through the 10th house when I was writing an article last  year before the presidential election about Obama because he had Saturn ingressing into Scorpio who has just his 10th whole sign house and in the astro.com delineation, well in your original delineation, you pointed out that Nixon had a Saturn going through his 10th house, I think in quadrant houses when he had his downfall and that portion of it was removed from the astro.com delineation interestingly.

ROBERT HAND: Because it is not relevant to modern people.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. Well, yeah it is a very concrete sort of statement about something that might happen literally that is not necessarily a psychological thing.

ROBERT HAND: Right, right.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. Anyway. So and those delineations are very much motivated by psychological astrology and maybe some…., I wanna say some junganism at least in terms of how you tell people or advise them to do deal with transits in sometimes internalizing them so they don’t result an external event that the person can’t control.  Would you say that was influenced by Jungianism and some of the things were going on in psychological astrology at the time or where was that come from?

ROBERT HAND: Sure. Yes, absolutely and actually still hold to that. It is my belief that the most pure and direct manifestation of a transit as when you experienced it inwardly  and for lots of complicated reasons people frequently don’t. The most reliable manifestation people get from transits is the change of mood or feeling. External events are much more negotiable but it is very hard for example not to feel somewhat somber during Saturn transiting opposition the Moon whatever maybe happening in your world.


ROBERT HAND: I also have to say that the psychological interpretation was impart required by the fact these were computer program databases and external events require taking off a lot of other things into consideration besides the transit itself. If you are just going to be talking about the transit then you really are primarily struck with the personality or psychologically oriented interpretation.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure, due to being more reliable in terms of feeling that transit when it comes up.


CHRIS BRENNAN: And you are actually going through like a Neptune transit or something at the time when you are writing the book. Right?

ROBERT HAND: Yeah, conjunct my sun. Would you believe?

CHRIS BRENNAN: And you didn’t know at the time what it was gonna be about but you happened to be right in the book at the time.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah, it would actually it did have a more obvious manifestation which is that was around the time of the 186 scientist condemning astrology.


ROBERT HAND: And I had a period that were I was really wondering if I was crazy believing in this stuff even though I experience that is being very powerful and oddly enough to result was that they got me under the course of studying the philosophy of all of this that has let to the point hour if I am confirmed  with the materialist I can demonstrate to whom that is an idiot.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. Well and in the ‘70s that would have been really…

ROBERT HAND: I am in philosophical realms.

CHRIS BRENNAN: So the 1970s was kind of an interesting time with respect to science. Because on the one hand there is a lot of astrologers that were getting very interested in doing scientific testing and you had organizations like the NCGR, ISAR forming in the ‘70s and ‘80s with statements in their very names about doing astrological research presumably from a scientific  standpoint. But then on the other hand you have scientists who like the 186 scientists who signed that document essentially saying that there is nothing to astrology. So I can understand how that for somebody like yourself that would have been that kind of a difficult time in which you would have done some soul searching.

ROBERT HAND: Yes and of course I was one of the people who I would be even more in the middle involved in that moment if I had at the time the computer expertise that do something about it. I have it now. But now I have come to the conclusion that astrology as a testable subject suffers from exactly the same problem is the social sciences do because it is in fact the form of social science and quite frankly rigorous scientific methods don’t  work too well and those either.


ROBERT HAND: But the other thing of course that eventually change my point of view on the subject was the and counter with the traditional astrology where I realize that part of the problem might be due to the fact that we were testing an astrology that was too seriously  float to be testable.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. You run into that issue with the suicide study. Right?

ROBERT HAND: Yes, specifically. Because when the suicide study began I eagerly participate it for a while then I realize that another fogies idea what to look for for suicide.


ROBERT HAND: And it wasn’t until I study traditional astrology that I began seeing what at least theory would suggest you should look for.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. You guys were trying to do statistical test with the New York NCGR  on charts that were indicative of suicide to see if there is a statistical correlation but you ran into an issue where there wasn’t even a clear developed methodology for what that would even look like in a birth chart necessarily in modern astrology.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah, actually the statistic for fairly minor. The question was ‘Can astrologers…,  given a pair of charts one of whom is a suicide and the other is not, can the astrologer tell the who is statistically significant degree which one is which? And the answer was pretty uniformly ‘No.’ But there were actually some really gigantic methodological flaws in that which would nearly made it impossible, you know about control groups I assume.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. I mean you could explain it quickly for listeners.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah. When you do a study of this kind, you have a population that has the condition. In this case suicides and the population that has similar statistical characteristic that is not suicide.


ROBERT HAND: Okay. What I say similar statistical characteristics that is they shouldn’t be radically different in period of time.


ROBERT HAND: For example if you do suicides from the 20th century and non suicides from the 19th, you will find all the suicides in the 20th century have a Neptune-Pluto sextiles.


ROBERT HAND: Because everybody had them.


ROBERT HAND: So they have to be approximately the same socioeconomic category approximately the same date distribution but  what actually happened was the controls, I may be wrong about this but the information I finally got was the control of were picked because they looked like they might be suicides.


ROBERT HAND: That is not the way it is supposed to be done because even so the larger problem is there was in fact in traditional or excuse me in modern astrology no theory as the what suicide should look like in a chart.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. I mean partially because that is not something you would even modern astrologers would want to say to a client because they would;  A not to make some sort of prediction like this personal be a suicide but B because their entire approach to astrology is more psychological in orientation and not directed towards making concrete predictions like that.

ROBERT HAND: Well, what I do now when I see those indications that I have learned to identify with potential suicides I say you have to be very careful about making lifestyle choices which are self destructive.


ROBERT HAND: And that actually is what it means it doesn’t mean suicide, it means lifestyle choices that are self destructive.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. Yeah. Because I remember some of the even the ancient delineations tend that way in terms of that is symbolically what it is indicating in terms of connections between the first house and the native in what they initiate in the eighth house and whatever brings about their own doing.

ROBERT HAND: Exactly. Yes.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. That was one of your first real issues that sort of brought up that issue but then it wasn’t until a few years later in the 1990s that you had…,  I guess you already had the interest but you got the opportunity to become involved in some of these translation projects in order to revive and restore some of the older traditions and that became kind of like a…, I mean you became one of the leading proponents of actually doing that within the modern astrological community.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah and I think I can safely say I have done more education in this field than anybody  else has since then. Because at that time I had three years of high school Latin and one year of college Latin and my Latin was…, but the interesting part is I have never forgot any other of it but it wasn’t, well I called good and now I have had in addition to that several years of graduate school Latin,  Medieval Latin, Medieval paleography and I worked with people who are professionals in the whole area working with manuscripts and so forth and so I am now I actually a fully trained professional medieval translator.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. You recently completed your PhD.

ROBERT HAND: Right and the PhD was the title is Military…, excuse me, The Use of Military Astrology in late Medieval Italy the Textual Evidence and one of the longest appendix is 85 pages of Latin which is not translated that what I do is I say look at passage such and such and I give the first and last words of the passage and then well I do translate the passages I refer to but the appendix completely includes entire areas of books that I had to copy from early modern texts and manuscripts edit and clean up  and most importantly copy. So I have got to the point hour. I can read most of those Medieval Latin texts if the print is reasonably clear at sight.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. That is a long way from you know doing cosmobiology in some of the modern astrology books in the 1980s to and having I guess your BA or did you have your MA at that point or is that just your BA?

ROBERT HAND: Just my BA. I had a BA in history. Now as a matter of fact the reason why my graduate school career took so long is I decided to start by getting an MA.


ROBERT HAND: So actually I was doing the whole thing for this last 10 and a half years.

CHRIS BRENNAN: I mean that makes a lot of sense. So add of all of the astrologers we have probably seen the greatest transformation but just interesting to me and I guess that is part of what I want to explore because many modern astrologers don’t  see what the draw is and don’t understand why anyone would be interested in traditional astrology and a lot of people look up to you and yet perhaps don’t fully realize some of the changes that you have made in your approach to astrology in the past 20 years. Not just in terms of I guess technically speaking but maybe to a certain extent philosophically and also in terms of your more academic orientation now.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah. I have always had a tendency in that direction but now I am no longer an ameteur in it. That is the basic difference.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. You have the actual credentials.



ROBERT HAND: And training.



CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So that brings us to our main point or our main topic which is something you have been talking about a lot recently which is rebuilding the links between modern and traditional astrology and I am curious about this because you have advocated and obviously you have been developing your own particular way. I mean anyone who has attended one of your lectures in the past 10 years has seen that you blend some traditional and some modern concepts and so I am curious what your views are  when it comes to this question of whether modern and traditional astrology can be reconciled. Do you think that they can be reconciled technically as well as philosophically?, and what is your approach?

ROBERT HAND: First of all there are two aspects to doing astrology. I mean two broad ones, there are many aspects but two broad ones. One is the astrological tools and techniques that you use to analyze the chart and the other one is what you are doing with the chart. Now, some of the reasons for the differences between ancient Medieval on one hand and Hindu I would also put in the same category and modern western astrology is due to the fact that there is a humongous cultural difference between our present time and the time is then.


ROBERT HAND: One of my favorite examples is if you see a young woman in her teens having extremely romantic and sexually oriented configurations in her chart, if she were born in India that would mean she was not to get married. If she was born here, it means she is having her first affair and maybe not even teens but you know the culture dictates, the traditional Indian culture dictates of that be marriage or basically you are  doomed and ours has a variety of approaches. It is not so much that we are free, the word I used to say indeterminate that is what we do and what we can do and what we have got is not as rigidly determined by historical and cultural circumstances that was in Greece and Rome and the Middle Ages and traditional India. They may become that way again but that automatically brings about a major difference.

The other major differences of course that the introspective quality of modern life is much greater in the mass population than it was in the ancient periods. I was just talking with somebody else earlier that one of the first really introspective biographies ever written was Augustine’s Confessions.


ROBERT HAND: And at time even that was a radical act and that hold business of doing spiritual so we say inventories became particularly  powerful after the Francescon movement began in the Middle Ages so that in turn lead to the kind of introspective issues that developed that manifested in modern time of psychological astrology. Here is the issue what techniques one  uses ancient, Medieval, Hindu or modern have nothing to do with what you use the techniques for.


ROBERT HAND: And I think  it is extremely inappropriate, not for philosophical reasons as merely but  for practical ones as well to bring that kind of deterministic attitude that you find in the three traditional astrologies into modern astrology  without series revision because of this greater indeterminacy in modern life in this greatly increased introspective tendency. Now is everybody in our culture introspective? No. But the people who get into this stuff tend to be and they didn’t into the traditional cultures.

CHRIS BRENNAN:  Sure and that brings up a question that often an argument actually that I see playing out and would be probably one of the main ones which is your point on the one hand that culturally things are different and people have greater latitude  to operate socially in modern times at least in some countries. But then on the other hand this argument that some traditional astrologers push back against on modern astrologers which is an argument that some people make against traditional astrology that  things are so radically different that traditional astrology no longer applies in the same way that it did 2000 years ago or a thousand years ago or even 500 years ago and some traditional astrologers push back against that and say that the fundamentals of life are still very much the same in terms of what the major components of a person’s life are the major people that you are interact with and the major things that are important to human beings. I mean how do you feel about that?

ROBERT HAND: Well, this is one of those classic instances of a highly polarized argument or both sides have a case.


ROBERT HAND: And the truth in somewhere in between. The cultural conditions are radically…, I will give you a concrete example in some 19th century text, I have forgotten which one I think it was Leo but I am not sure a Moon-Venus square was delineated in a woman’s chart as being an indication of loose living, low morals and so forth.

In modern astrology all we would say is this is somebody who really likes to be loved and to give love and maybe a little turbulent and the difference is not the astrology, the difference is the culture’s attitude toward women and the feminine.


ROBERT HAND: So the idea that this is not the same culture as the three traditional cultures that gave rise to astrology, Tos and Arabic there too, that makes four. But at the same time making the translation isn’t particularly difficult.


ROBERT HAND: And for some reason having now study intimately the nuts and bolts of Medieval astrology in the original language. I can tell you that Medieval times were much more like modern  times than most of us realize but still the rigidity of a person’s life determination caused by their social position was much greater than it is now. Bonatti for example nobody knows whether he actually got a degree at the University of Bologna but he certainly was there and during my dissertation defense something interesting came up. One of my committee  was the a full professor of Canon Law. The only full professor of Canon Law in the entire United states I might add as Catholic University has the only Canon Law department in the United States and Canon Law of course is completely written in Medieval Latin and he was surprised to discover in the passages of Bonatti on Loses that his language was exactly like this… Well, I won’t say exactly but he clearly had studied Canon Law.


ROBERT HAND: Because his language was correct. The Latin.


ROBERT HAND: Now so he was obviously very well educated man. Well, this man that he wasn’t likely to be plowing fields.


ROBERT HAND: He was not a member of the nobility so that took care of that. He is certainly wasn’t  a member of the church. So all of these things excluded vast quantities of possibilities from his life. Although we have probably left would more possibilities than most people because he was basically a middle class person in the modern sense and that indeterminacy of the middle class had already begun. This is a middle class culture. That is why the indeterminacy level is so high. But at the same time, yes there are basic issues that we all have to deal with but I would like to make some suggested comparisons.

If a person gets an illness now depending on the illness of course the chances are they are going to have a bad time and they are going to recover, getting that same illness in the Middle Ages was probably a death sentence.


ROBERT HAND: The whole issue of what constitute marriage and relationship is radically changed and by the way the probably the single greatest deficiency in Medieval astrology is relationship analysis which is one of the biggest fields in modern astrology.

Because you know basically you married somebody who was local and practical or your marriage was arranged for you but none of the case  you didn’t have a whole to say in the matter and there are anything you wanted to make sure of from the man’s point of view and it was all from a man’s point of view which is another big change that the wife was clean reliable honest  and was not likely to disgrace him and of course bare children and that was it. They got heidy children has got as long as those other things but now we have this whole idea of romantic love which is another by the way Medieval creation.


ROBERT HAND: … that had to occur outside of marriage however that was the interesting thing about it.


ROBERT HAND: It could not only occur in it.

CHRIS BRENNAN:  Although on the other hand we do have things like the even the conceptualization and the practice of synastry originating probably in the Hellenistic tradition and so…

ROBERT HAND: Yes, just it wasn’t anywhere near the degree of elaboration that it has now. But yes, the idea goes back to the ancients.

CHRIS BRENNAN:  Sure. So that makes sense in terms of philosophically. Although even philosophically if we take it back one of  the issues for example Nick Campion talks about one of his arguments against Hellenistic astrology being invented suddenly is that there is so many different philosophical approaches to astrology in the ancient world and then the Greco-Roman period that that is really argues against it is just coming out of one place or one philosophical school and that in some ways it is almost helpful because you can’t look at  traditional astrology as one monolithic thing philosophically and there are pieces of traditional astrology that where the philosophy certainly could be seen as complementary to modern western astrology I think. Right?

ROBERT HAND: Absolutely. You raised a very good point. If you are talking about philosophical differences between traditional and modern astrology. You really do have to say well, which philosophy of ancient or medieval astrology you are talking about.


ROBERT HAND: For example the one that is not only most compatible of modern astrology but it is actually the incest for the philosophical foundation of modern astrology is Neoplatonism. Madame Blavatsky simply repackaged Neoplatonism in a somewhat polarized form with lots of Sanskrit terminology but  her worldview is basically Neoplatonic and most spiritual astrology is descended directly or indirectly from her. I personally prefer to go back to the source and when you do, you find the statement  I have commonly made that if you really carefully study Plotinus’ attitude to astrology, you discovered that was virtually identical to Rudhyar’s.

CHRIS BRENNAN:  Right. Because he wasn’t against astrology. He was just against the astrology of causes like a Ptolemaic astrology.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah. Exactly. There were in fact three major philosophical strains in ancient astrology. The Platonic, the Hermetic  which is closed to be in Platonic and the Stoic. Aristotelian people often say the Ptolemy was an Aristotelian I would say actually only insofar as everybody was an Aristotelian to some degree in the ancient  world. Because by his time the philosophies that all began to mush together and in fact the philosophical foundations I am beginning to write about for modern astrology are quite latently Neoplatonic with some stuff that has been divided to as by modern science. Have you ever studied Neoplatonism at all?

CHRIS BRENNAN:  Yeah. I mean I have spent the past few years doing is just studying ancient philosophy so I can understand Hellenistic astrology better.

ROBERT HAND: So you know what the emanations are, you know what emanation is.


ROBERT HAND: Okay. Even modern books you will find no really good explanation for how it works. I mean what is the relationship between the various hypothesis of…, or the various hypothesis there, not of God  because they have all different aspects of it and nobody really gives a good answer and they are all sorts of theological problems that it gives rise to that are actually if you look at the what it is going on on contemporary mathematics and  physics you can actually see a model there for they could be related minus the reduction is tendency of removing the living element for I would that, I don’t go with. But the idea that for example we can be in God and God can be in us is a real strain to a Christian.  


ROBERT HAND: But not to a Platonist.


ROBERT HAND: Now the Medieval of course you have another subtle issues which is that both Christian and Islamic astrology occurred in a monotheistic context which had a great deal in common as a result of which the Arabic adaptations of Aristotle were with only a little bit of difficulty in return to Christian  adaptations of Aristotle. So in Medieval astrology is completely Aristotelian and I don’t have a problem with that. There are many aspects of Aristotle that are useful to understanding  how astrology when I worked but the physics has to go.


ROBERT HAND: At least as physics as something else it may have value but we can’t use the science. The natural philosophy of Aristotle particularly well because it is simply isn’t correct  unless you make really major modifications that actually seem something could be made it, they would make it almost right but almost useful but everything I want from Aristotle is a Neoplatonism anyway because they actually have is an Aristotle and Plato synthesis.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Even the… I guess I have been looked in the stuff but even the notion of I guess Platonism you have like a final cause because that is something you have talked about  and you seem to draw a lot on from Aristotelianism is the four causes.

ROBERT HAND: Yes. The idea of quotifying them into four and defining himself precisely is Aristotle.


ROBERT HAND: But the idea of efficient, the ideas of that can be found in Plato. He just didn’t systematize the way Aristotle did.


ROBERT HAND: And I tend to take the Platonic view that a form preexist its material manifestation, that is ………. without the material manifestation because we have since learn the matter isn’t particularly material anyway.


ROBERT HAND: It is a set of mathematical functions which is very Platonic.

CHRIS BRENNAN: And especially the final cause seems like something that you have been interested in integrating into a philosophy of astrology for a while now. Right?

ROBERT HAND: Yes and of course you have to understand final cause may not be attained. But I believe a chart is actually a way of determining one’s pathway to our achieving one’s final cause or at least going in the right direction and this is completely Aristotelian and yet it see astrology  a self realization.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. So how do you describe that to somebody from a traditional standpoint of integrating in final cause and what that actually means in an astrological context?

ROBERT HAND: Well, first of all I go back to a doctrine of fate which I found a fragment of Hermeticism. The precise nature of its peculiarly to the fragment, the idea is all over the place. And that is there is a fate that is the result of being physically incarnate and you can’t do anything about that, there is the fate that is due to limitations and  awareness and consciousness which appears to produce and inevitable outcome but it is actually only your lack of awareness that makes that happen and then finally there is the fate that comes about as you on fault toward what it is you are supposed to become and where traditional astrologers I believe have a problem and this by the way is not supported by traditional philosophy at all by the ancient philosophies at all is they tend to see everything  as a sort of flat earth. They don’t realize that everything can operate at several different levels and this is not merely pollyanna modernism.

I have a fairly substantial number of Tibetan Buddhist clients. They are not only Tibetan Buddhist, they are people who are fairly prominent in the Tibetan Buddhist community quite a few easily found on Google. They have been getting all of the stuff going on the tropical cardinal signs, they have been getting clabbered. How are they doing it? They are not having any…, well having transformational issues but they are not having problems. They are just changing and they know it and they are going with it. Their lives are not falling apart. In fact they are becoming more fulfilled.

I have many clients who do this routinely and there is no way in the chart, you could tell that they would do this.


ROBERT HAND: It is just a potential. If you value at the chart as being several different levels of possibility.

CHRIS BRENNAN: So you embrace the idea that modern…, partially modern but to some extent traditional notion that the level of consciousness of  the individual in someway dictates how they navigate or what they are successfully or unsuccessfully navigate the transit.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah, although level of consciousness is a somewhat mashy term.


ROBERT HAND: The clarity of their self understanding would probably be the better, the clarity and feudality of the self understanding were probably be a better way of putting it, is the variable.

CHRIS BRENNAN: I mean one of the things that I often think about  when it comes to that one of the objections I have to do modern view  of that is just sometimes it seems like there are some things like you are talking about the being subject to certain things in terms of your fate physically like sickness or illness to whatever extent that some illness is can’t be avoided or are not something that you necessarily broad on yourself.


CHRIS BRENNAN: Like how do you deal with that?

ROBERT HAND: Well, that is the first level of fate…,


ROBERT HAND: …you know the physical universe. We are here, we would like it or not, we are here. We may have some role in creating it but not individually it is a collective creation at the very least. At the very most I should say, not least. Yes, of the other aspect of fate is what other people do.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. Which is…

ROBERT HAND: I mean for example how many times have I looked at and afflicted Neptune in the fourth house and says one of your parents possibly your father had an alcohol or drug problem and almost invariably the answer is ‘Yes.’

Now, they didn’t make their father happen.


ROBERT HAND: You may have some considerable control over your own life but you have very little over other peoples.


ROBERT HAND: The only choice you have other people is which ones associate with and in the case of parents that is pretty bloody well fixed in fate. So yeah there are  things that you can’t rise above but the most common thing is you can’t rise above things that you don’t understand the workings of and so while the correct word is ignorance it has a problem of its being pejorative. An ignorant person is usually considered  to be an idiot or a full. Well, unwitting with probably be a better word. It is not that we ignore which is actively true is not to know is that we don’t know.


ROBERT HAND: And what we don’t know become is fate.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. Okay. I think that give me some insight into in terms of how traditional astrology, how you might reconcile some traditional philosophical schools. There is actually rich philosophical tradition in many parts of it could actually interface very nicely with some of the  places that modern astrology has gone philosophically.

ROBERT HAND: Actually I will give you the biggest one. Its characteristic of Hermetic, Neoplatonic and Medieval astrology all of them. It is their opinion that the fated manifestations of the planets are most likely the result of the changes they induce in the physical body and to the extent that the rational intellect as properly understood  can separate itself from the impulses of the body they have become free from fate, that fated at least.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. Yeah. That is huge… That distinction between the mind and the body is huge in Hermetism.

ROBERT HAND: Yes and it is also pointed out that the soul or mind depending on which you wanna call it has two parts that part that is most subject to the parts of the body and the part is  less subject to the parts of the body and here you have the unconscious and the conscious mind. That idea comes right out of ancient philosophy. The term unconscious mind is modern more or less but the idea isn’t.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. Yeah. That does provide  a pretty good parallel or pretty important one  in terms of the modern and ancient philosophical traditions.

Then let’s move on. So technically then how or in what ways can modern and traditional astrology be reconciled like one of the big things I think that you discovered and became known for was you start making discoveries that astrology as it was practiced 2000 years ago was very different then it is practiced today.

For example whole sign houses being one of those things that you guys…, I didn’t necessarily discover but certainly confirmed and became it actually gained widespread exposure after your work in the mid ‘90s.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah. The technical aspects of professional astrology other ones that are most can be brought over most unchanged. Because what you do to manipulate the symbolism of the chart has as I say nothing to do with what you are doing it for. I will give you a modern example. My former partner Gary Christian is one of the leading practitioners of Uranian astrology which by most people’s standard is very much like Medieval and being rigidly deterministic and very event oriented.


ROBERT HAND: I overheard him giving a consultation to a client several years ago and it was not like that at all. He was doing his act of the same sort of thing that I would do, only he was doing it was Uranian.


ROBERT HAND: So the purpose to which you harness  the techniques are separate from the techniques. So what I think that modern astrologers have to drop is the idea that the techniques somehow harness you to a fatalistic approach. Now at the other end of the  spectrum I was recently looking at a book on what I would call modern psychologically oriented astrology and was struck me was that everything was stated entirely in terms of personality. It is not psychological so much. It is just characterological. It was just about personality.


ROBERT HAND: And it obviously was completely incapable of dealing with things coming in from outside that really don’t come in  from outside and this is where traditional astrology really is much more useful. It is far better for indicating what kinds of actual circumstances may surround a given set of transits than modern astrology is.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. Talking about actual concrete circumstances in the environment or the life of the native.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah. But here is an example of the difficulty. You have Neptune going over the Sun in the 10th house. That would be Pisces nowadays. Here is  the question: Does this mean your job is about to get screwy? Or your father or mother are about to get need to be taking care very badly? Or are you going to have a major spiritual awareness experience it would change your life direction? And the answer is ‘Yes’. It could be any of those.


ROBERT HAND: And while the more you invoke the other methods of traditional astrology the more you can narrow this down somewhat but you can never get it to one scenario.


ROBERT HAND: Unless the person has made choices in the past that make only one scenario possible.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah. That is a really important point that traditional astrology allows you to narrow down the significations to more likely or managable number but it doesn’t illuminate all of the possibilities completely.

ROBERT HAND: Exactly and that is where the reconciliation actually  occurs. Once you understand that even the most highly symbolically determined delineations have manifold forms, the more you realized that traditional astrology does allow for a multifaceted approach. It is not rigidly deterministic. Those people who believe that the only reason why astrological predictions are wrong is due to the deficiencies of the astrologer have a very hard case to prove. Because I just don’t see it happening. That I see I have my pals on the finger what goes on on astrology pretty  well. I haven’t seen anybody Hindu, Medieval or whatever who are gonna actually tell you what an event is going to be in events and the fact by purely astrological means.


ROBERT HAND: The last ………. is important.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Zoller already  said, I had to say something, to me once about  that he said that I thought was insightfully, he said that ‘Astrology allows you to know things that you shouldn’t otherwise be able to know. But it doesn’t provide omniscience.’

ROBERT HAND: No, it is not.


ROBERT HAND: No, it is basically the function of astrology in freedom is to dispel ignorance as much as possible.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. That makes sense. So technically speaking there is a lot of things about traditional astrology that could be adopted by modern astrologers without necessarily changing their philosophical approach to astrology and in some ways you are evidence of that. But let’s talk about because there are some significant technological or some resistance to adopting traditional astrology largely. I wouldn’t even say because of the philosophy although that is obviously a problem whatever  the perception of the philosophy is but there is resistance to sometimes very drastic changes in the techniques, whole sign houses being one of them and then I think that you have been become the major proponent for. So what would you say to somebody who has not heard about whole sign houses before? Or who perhaps has heard about it but so resistant to the concept?

ROBERT HAND: Well, you know the all  cliche you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.


ROBERT HAND: That is part of the problem. In this respect that I think I am different from a lot of people although around entirely I am 71 years old and yes, I am fixed in my ways in a number of areas when it comes to astrology. Not terribly. As soon as I see something coming from a source that I think is worthy  of being paid attention to I pay attention to it and what do I mean by worthy being paid attention to is intelligent, well thought out, well reasoned and I can see if it works or not.

There are always be a certain number of people who can’t make these changes because it is a psychological reality that the older one gets the more difficult it is to learn something completely new. I doubt very much that I could have learned Latin from scratch in my 50s. Having learned Latin in high school I was just simply building and structure that already existed and now my Latin is pretty good. I wouldn’t care to sit down or write a  Ciceronian essay but I can certainly read a Ciceronian essay even if it makes me want to do something horrible but having made that breakthrough of Latin I am now slowly acquiring Greek…


ROBERT HAND: …because they think  alike.


ROBERT HAND: Not identical. But they think… The only language I know of that you can almost perfectly translate into from Greek philosophy is Medieval Latin, Medieval not classical. The Medievals had to confront the issue and they did it almost perfectly. They came up with a complete Latin vocabulary for all of the terms of ancient philosophy and the words are precisely equivalent.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right and that actually lead to an issue and the astrology which is that we call houses now instead of places and so on and so forth.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah. That is a major problem. All right. Because and flat matter the word in Latin locus which means place is used ambiguously. I have been recently going over the all work we did on Montulmo what I am doing  however is I am not really translating it what I am doing is I am editing the Latin. Because I have the manuscript on which the printed book was based and now I can see where misinterpretations may have occurred. But anyway Montulmo frequently uses locus like examine the place of the Sun Locum Solus and you don’t know if he means house or the degree position.


ROBERT HAND: If you are being strictly rigorous he would mean the house.


ROBERT HAND: And usually when he means degree he says gradus which means degree. So what we did before was to translate it as  place and left it alone and made a comment ‘This may very well mean house.’  Now I am convinced it means house. Because the Middle Ages the use of locus for house was still around. As we can see in German were to this day,  the 12th house can be further or either is Haeuser or  Orter,  I believe Orter is the proper plural, in the Latin means places.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So this is almost shows a continuation of the language certainly but I mean whole sign houses were still be in practiced a thousand years after the introduction of Hellenistic astrology.

ROBERT HAND: Sure. They were most of the early writers in Arabic used them.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right and that actually becomes because you are one of the only people that has commented on this. This question of you know whole sign houses was the dominant form of house division for the first thousand years of western astrology and it seems to have been after the concept of houses were reduced somewhere around the first or second century BC. But then in the Medieval tradition sometime around the ninth century or maybe a little later we see this sudden shift  towards using quadrant houses very quickly and almost the complete forgetting or neglecting of whole sign houses after that point. Why did that shift happen?

ROBERT HAND: Well. Yeah. Never underestimate capacity of the right individual in the right place at the right time. More recently we have the case of Placidus who was methods were adopted by enlarge that attribution by John Partridge in England and Partridge were the last of the significant early modern astrologers in England and so everybody followed him.


ROBERT HAND: Consequently, the dominant house system in England and America up until relatively recently  was the Placidus house system, not because it worked better but because somebody thought it. Well, the single most towering figure practically speaking in Medieval astrology was Abu Ma’shar who said about doing a reorganization of astrological ideal as largely a priory of principles. Now I don’t know if he is the one who switched the emphasis from whole signs to Alcabitius but he is in exactly the right place and I think he did. His most notable contribution  was the idea that the triplicities correlate with the Aristotelian elements which I think was a mistake.


ROBERT HAND: It doesn’t make sense but… And there was also of course a certain amount of lore prior to him that suggested that how is this might be done differently. We have the two famous instances in Hellenistic which are Vettius Valens who describes quite clearly a Porphyry house system and of course we have Porphyry saying the same thing  little later on and then we have Rhetorius’ use a form of Alcabitius houses and surviving charts. In none of those instances do we have indications that they were using them for signification.


ROBERT HAND: They appeared upon using them for angular or succedent or cadent or intensity. So something happened about the time you identify, about the time Abu Ma’shar  that caused shift to occur and it was clearly done with the idea that they were making astrology more scientific and this happened a lot in the early modern period. Two people would make changes in astrology that make it more scientific  and the outstanding example of this actually is Placidus.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right and one of the… I think you said also that it is started happening with Abu Ma’shar around the time of the commentaries on Ptolemy and  I really like that idea. Because we actually are still having the same debate that they have made in the ninth century today where some astrologers would say you know because Ptolemy doesn’t mention the houses very frequently and the first time he actually clearly outlines a house system explicitly it is a quadrant house system within the context of the length of life technique and some people argue that that means that was Ptolemy’s preferred house system. But I have shown elsewhere that he was clearly using whole sign houses everywhere else outside of that one chapter.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah and  there is the issue I mention in whole sign houses of one particular text do we read it is the…, and the degrees that are in dexter sextile to these. Now the Greek we translated as also known is the house of the Good Spirit or Good Daemon which were make the 11th house or and which are also in the house of the Good Spirit. They are manuscripts that two of both ways.


ROBERT HAND: The usual reading is the formal one but the latter one would say that has to be an overlap between those degrees that are in dexter sextile that the rising degrees and in the house of the Good Spirit which would be different.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. So one of the issues is that people may have basically read those passages of Ptolemy and taken that as the house system that he was using and therefore into some extent at least the complete ignoring of whole sign houses in this sudden shift  towards quadrant houses may have been or at least one argument or one theory is that, one possibility is that it may have been the result of a misunderstanding about how houses were being used early in the tradition.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah. I think the commentaries on Ptolemy probably do have something to do with it because that could easily lean in that direction.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and so that is one area where we are gonna have to do some work in terms of a lot of people are switching the whole sign houses. It is actually really striking even in the past five or six years have been amazed it. I have seen some polls recently on two different forums about Which form of house division do you use? And whole sign houses in the past few years has suddenly jumped up there as the second most used or in at least one traditional poll and the most used house system.


CHRIS BRENNAN: Because lots of people even modern astrologers who don’t use traditional astrology are suddenly adopting it for a variety of reasons.

ROBERT HAND: Not the least of which is Sun sign astrology is always done that way.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. Sun sign astrology always derives whole sign houses from the sign of the Sun.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah, exactly. Michael Lutin had actually been using whole sign houses in regular work as because of his experience within Sun sign astrology. He has an interesting combination. He uses both Placidus and  whole sign houses and what he has done he is created the same dilemma you find it in the Indian astrology where they use the tripathi system which is related to the Porphyry and the whole sign houses and I have never been able to get a straight answer out of anybody is the when you use which and for what reason.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure and that might be what happens. I mean I have some talk about attempting to synthesize these two systems of a quadrant system in whole sign system to see if that works although mostly people that I know who start playing with whole sign houses eventually just convert to it end up using that hundred percent of the time.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah. There is the one irritating problem in whole sign houses which I think I know the answer but I can’t prove it on the bases of text is due the degrees  in each house of the correspond to the Ascendant which would be the equal house cusps basically. Are they cusps in the original sense that in the word in the whole sign house system? For example there is a lot of death which requires the cusp of the eighth house and that goes back to Greek sources.


ROBERT HAND: But there are no calculations of the lot of death anywhere. So we don’t know whether using zero degrees of the eighth house or the degree in the eighth house that was the same as the degree of the Ascendant.


ROBERT HAND: And that will be very interesting because it mean you could drive the fundamental ruler of a house from the degree of the Ascendant in that house, just the way people do a quadrant house. I don’t know. I mean it is I am basically trying out to make anything I say  depended on that issue…


ROBERT HAND: which I don’t know.

CHRIS BRENNAN: So there is still things that were working out and then there is other techniques technically  in terms of what traditional astrology might have or what you have been using one of the other issues I think our arguments is the traditional rulerships and then secondarily the issue of using the classical aspects versus incorporating minor aspects. Where do you stand on those?

ROBERT HAND: Okay. I definitely in with the old rulers.


ROBERT HAND: I use the Medieval variant more than Hellenistic variant. But because I do think the scoring system while it is not precise does give you some sense of the relative power of the various dignities in rulerships. Montulmo by the way use the Ptolemaic  system. He was the only Latin astrologer I found who did consider all dignities they have the score of one and he did not use decans, he used aspect as the fifth rulership.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay, so Ptolemy did as well I think.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah. It is completely from Ptolemy. He is the most Ptolemaic  Medieval astrologer I have found. He is late 1300s.




ROBERT HAND: That system is too intricate and too effective to tinker with. The only area where tinkering clearly needs to be done is the issue of the bounds or terms because we have got one system; the Egyptian where everybody agrees in where they are and the other major system the Ptolemy is a family of systems because there are quite a  few variance. I don’t know if you have ever read Deborah Houlding’s paper on the subject but the general conclusion of her paper was that we do not in fact know what Ptolemy’s terms were…

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. Yeah and she…

ROBERT HAND: … …… in a great certainty.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Presented that at the Blast as well, at the last Blast in 2008 and it was a very interesting paper.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah. That was actually a somewhat better rendition when she gave it because she thought about it a bit more but the paper she published in… Help!

CHRIS BRENNAN: Culture and Cosmos.

ROBERT HAND: Culture and Cosmos is gives an advocate description of the problem.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. So but in terms of domicile rulers you would prefer or you do prefer the traditional system over the modern system of assigning for example Neptune to Pisces, Uranus to Aquarius and Pluto to Scorpio.

ROBERT HAND: As far as I am concerned the modern system doesn’t exist. It is bullshit. You may have that out if you would like but I… Let me tell you why I believe that.


ROBERT HAND: It isn’t because it is modern. I don’t do that.


ROBERT HAND: When I first started to studying astrology I was of course mostly  influenced by Ebertin and people like him and I didn’t use houses at all and I didn’t use rulerships at all.


ROBERT HAND: Then when I moved in New York and spent a winter there working with Henry Weingarten and Barbara Somerfield, they more or less reinforce my position because they were pretty straight cosmobiologists. Then I moved to Boston and they already was doing conventional mainstream modern Placidean astrology and they kept saying like ‘You really are the…’  and by this time I had already started using houses at least for occupancy. I started using Placidus because what else was there and then I converted to Koch because ………… came and gave workshops in New York and Boston where she described the system. I was very impressed what she did that so I converted the Koch. But then they say you have got to use rulers and  I saw using rulers and here is what happened. I found there were the single greatest source of error in my analysis.


ROBERT HAND: What you were supposed to be able to do with rulers. I  too frequently could not do.


ROBERT HAND: And that gave, let me the conclusion that rulerships didn’t work. Well, then in the ‘90s when I learned the Medieval system and learned about Almuten somethings in that sort. I said ‘This actually works. It makes sense.’ and the last key in that was of course change it whole sign houses. So it isn’t so much that I was converted from the modern system to the Medieval system is the Medieval system was the first one I found work that all reliably and when I find modern astrologers using  house rulerships with the modern planets I find what they do with house rulerships is extremely mashy. For example most people don’t know that there is actually a functional difference between the planet in a house and the planet ruling a house. They are not the same.


ROBERT HAND: But they are used interchangeably in modern astrology.

CHRIS BRENNAN: And what is the distinction?

ROBERT HAND: They will make it. They will make any distinction.

CHRIS BRENNAN: What is the distinction from your standpoint?

ROBERT HAND: Well. Putting in practical terms: The major distinction is that in any matter the early stages of the process are indicated by the occupants of the house and the outcome by the ruler.


ROBERT HAND: Because the ruler is a formal and final cause.


ROBERT HAND: Now does this always give you a clear difference between them? Not always but it does more often than not and it is this fact actually the main is why horary astrologers are interrogational is I preferred to use the term now.  You make the ruler is more important than the occupants because they won’t know the outcome and the occupants don’t give you is good an idea what the outcome will be.

You see the occupants of a house are the material cause. Well, obviously any appropriate material cause is going to discorrupt the result of a house.


ROBERT HAND: So you see you can get something of the outcome. But another doctrine that this explains is why is this so bad when a planet does not make an aspect to house that it rules? And the answer is because then it can’t contribute to the outcome.


ROBERT HAND: Which brings us back to the aspect issue. So it might be a good issue to segway to that but …

CHRIS BRENNAN: I mean that…

ROBERT HAND: There is in fact a premodern use of minor aspects…


ROBERT HAND: …substantial.

CHRIS BRENNAN:  Which is from who?

ROBERT HAND: Seven… All over the place, India particularly. It is just that nobody recognized it.


ROBERT HAND: The divisional charts or  in fact the way of finding minor aspects or at least the ones that are truly harmonic charts are. What I have come to the conclusion is the major aspects are to be used primarily in the first harmonic that is what you read when you read the chart in the regular way.

Now even in traditional astrology there are some exceptions. For example a sextile or quincunx between signs that have the same ruler are considered to be valid.


ROBERT HAND: And they are okay and of course you also have the Antiscia and Contra-Antiscia which are not aspects. But I have as a result of my early experience in astrology never quite gotten the idea of giving up quote semi-squares and sesqui-quadrates.


ROBERT HAND: They are not as powerful but they seem to work. They basically like you know slightly less intense squares. They are conjunctions in the eighth harmonic. So the minor aspects I think probably do work if they are really close and here is the technique I actually believe one uses as guide. I don’t wanna be too rigorous about this but the major aspects should have the orbs that traditional astrology assigns them more or less.


ROBERT HAND: The minor aspects should have the same orb divided by the harmonic.


ROBERT HAND: So if a conjunction between two bodies, say 10 degrees then the semi-square would get 2.5 degrees.


ROBERT HAND:  And because it is actually in aspect in a divisional chart. So I do not wax eloquent over quincunx is that three degrees out regardless this I have a quincunx …  Yes, the other exception is it is evident from things are Masha’Allah states in various places that any planet that occupy the same degrees of their sign interact regardless of the aspect between the sign.


ROBERT HAND:  That gives you partile semi-squares. Excuse me. Partile quincunx and semi-sextiles, partile meaning they are in the same degree, they have no orb in  other words.


ROBERT HAND:  So that is not other resolution. Those are the guidelines I worked with. But I very seldom will base anything major upon minor aspect.


ROBERT HAND: I think the major ones are actually major.

CHRIS BRENNAN: So then the reconciliation there between modern and traditional astrology is to perhaps integrate the minor aspects in some way but to treat them sort of categorically or at least somewhat differently in terms of the amount of importance that is given to them.

ROBERT HAND: Yes, I agree. That is exactly it. The other way we have whole sign houses probably the best way to do this: It is to actually create the harmonic charts.


ROBERT HAND: But that requires that we have a clear understanding of what the number of the harmonic means.


ROBERT HAND: First harmonic is perfectly straightforward. That is everything.


ROBERT HAND: Second harmonic we typically don’t bother use independent… The major aspects in any harmonic chart would be valid. First, second, third, fourth whatever.


ROBERT HAND: If you go to a second harmonic chart which I wouldn’t  bother doing. Then the semi-squares and sesqui-quadrates become squares.


ROBERT HAND: So but this is a suggestion. I don’t  do it. It is a suggestion.

You got to leave to work for somebody else to do it for all. To believe me I will.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah. There is a little bit too much I think.


CHRIS BRENNAN: We are clearly very early on in this revival of traditional astrology and we are  already starting to see some evidence of the synthesis but there is so much work left should be done. Then obviously it is gonna be take a while before the outcome of that is really clear.

ROBERT HAND: I had to share with you an observation. The last AA conference I attended which is a couple of years ago in Britain. I was officially told and saw very clearly that the split  between moderns and traditionals are said ended.


ROBERT HAND: The two groups had decided. They were both worth listening to.


ROBERT HAND: And I assume that will happen here too but to see the British Astrological community is much smaller one and much more tightly integrated.  Ours is kind of defuse since of course spread out over a monster of a country in size bias I mean.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Well and they also got a bit of a head started on the Americans by about 10 years because the Lilly revival occurred in the UK.


CHRIS BRENNAN: … or originated there and then it wasn’t  until ten years later that you have ARHAT, Project Hindsight…

ROBERT HAND: Robert Zoller was actually the first practitioner of traditional astrology.


ROBERT HAND: But he didn’t have too many followers. We actually gave him a platform.


ROBERT HAND: Which he is used very well.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah and he really sort of his popularity so definitely took off  after that point, after the mid ‘90s.


CHRIS BRENNAN: And then it is interesting because also even there are guys like Holden who was publishing papers with the AFA  like on whole sign houses in 1981 or 1984.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah, all of them revere one. Yes.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right and he was even publishing translations privately or circulating translations of many of these texts like Rhetorius and Paulus and a few other astrologers privately for many years and it is only recently that they were published.



ROBERT HAND: He was another man ahead of his time.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, definitely. That gives us some ideas at least philosophically and to a certain extent technically how traditional astrology might be reconciled or how we can begin building some of the links. I mean do you have any advice for people  like if somebody is a modern astrologer that doesn’t have any background in traditional astrology what their starting point might be or how they could start looking into traditional astrology? But just in terms of like how you might make the transition technically like if you use Placidus normally and you used the modern rulers.

ROBERT HAND: I have very simple answer. Do exactly what I did.


ROBERT HAND: I used the European style chart  form in which the planets were placed in their proper degrees and I drew lines for the house cusps and I have the signs of the zodiac in the ring of their own around the outside. So I could either read the houses or the signs.


ROBERT HAND: That is a very simple way of doing it  that way you can…, Nobody for any purpose whatsoever should be using what I called  the 12th pieces of pie chart were all the houses are drawn is 30 degrees regardless of their actual size and the planets should …… within in. You really do need I believe to see the geometrical structure of the chart and this is one of the cases where is extremely useful because you can see the house and the sign if they are separate and you conclude  which ones give the better information and I have had of course you know I am getting a selective, I have a selective audience here. But I am getting of a lot people who have been giving me nothing that in their chart made sense until I changed the whole sign house system. But I am sure there are also a lot of people out there saying ‘I have done you know thousands of chart with both and I have found whole sign houses, there are a lot of crap.’ I just don’t hear from them.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. Yeah. A lot of people seem to… The main hesitancy seems to be that some people are so used to looking at their own charts in Placidus or whatever for so many years, they come to identify with those placements and so the biggest hurdle for them  becomes reunderstanding or reinterpreting their own chart and how that makes sort of a shift in how they understand their own life.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah. The really the big one… The really big thing we discovered was that think that Book V of Valens’ Anthology where he starts talking about what happens when the Midheaven falls in the ninth house or the 11th house.


ROBERT HAND: And the interesting thing is about a few weeks before that I was talking to Robert Schmidt and said ‘You know I wonder if the ancients would have used the Midheaven somewhat the way they apparently use the parts as alternative Ascendants.’


ROBERT HAND: So the Midheaven could float in whatever house it landed into would have to do with career issues and then came this passage and that it was I would say 80% of the way to what Valens was describing, not a 100% but about 80%. And so once you have that understanding of what  the Midheaven and the IC do it becomes a little easier to work with. I would have a great deal of difficulty throwing out my Pisces Midheaven.


ROBERT HAND: But it is in the ninth house and in fact my initial problem with either modern or traditional rulers is that my 12th house is occupied by Saturn and Uranus according to which  modern house system you are used and Saturn and Uranus both rule according to which ruler you are used the eighth house or the ninth house rather which was Aquarius in all the quadrant house systems.


ROBERT HAND: And I couldn’t see where that would contribute to my interest in philosophy ideas so on and so forth. Well, in whole sign houses I have a ninth house Midheaven.


ROBERT HAND: It has two rulers Mars and Jupiter. Mars trines on one side and Jupiter on the other and they are both highly dignified.


ROBERT HAND: So they are all of a sudden …… why I would have a strong ninth house interest and they would be decidedly spiritual or mystical direction although I don’t do the chart in the most spiritual astrologers do. I prefer the older language it is cleaner and more precise.

Like for example I give you my favorite word for this: Soul. Ask an astrologer what part of the chart shows the soul. Well, if the astrologer is really thinking they should quick return that question with the question is what do you mean by soul?

And they typically don’t because everybody thinks they know what it means.


ROBERT HAND: And everytime I talked use the word, I say I use this word for two specific things. One is it is the faculty which makes a living thing alive, the presence of soul makes a living thing alive and two is in sentient beings the soul  in particular makes of that particular sentient being and not somebody else.


ROBERT HAND: So the answer the question what part of the chart shows the soul: The answer is the whole thing.


ROBERT HAND: But we have these problems with definitions that are really a mass so that is an example of how I changed the dialogue somewhat in spiritual conversations.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. As well as an example of your general ninth house interests and how…


CHRIS BRENNAN: I assume something that you are gonna talk about in the workshop which is that in reality you do take into account the degree of the Midheaven and the degree of the IC. They just import their significations into whatever whole sign house they fall in.

ROBERT HAND: Yes. It means my career has to do with ninth house issues.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. Yeah. I was used your chart as the best example of that of somebody whose MC has fallen in the ninth house and he is clearly made their career and he is very well known for ninth house topics, primarily astrology as well as other things.

ROBERT HAND: People with late Gemini and people who have the Gemini Aquarius combination which was the  ones  I was talking about are particularly fascinating because you find I would say a disproportionate at number of these people I found interested in ceremonial magic.


ROBERT HAND: They want to take a very cerebral, well organized approach to these issues.


ROBERT HAND: I don’t mean ceremonial magic cast spelled. I mean the you know genuine white magic.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. Okay. So these are really be I guess the three main issues in terms of stumbling blocks as some people have is the rulership issue, the aspect doctrine issue and then the house issue.


CHRIS BRENNAN: And that I think give some people some good ideas about where they might want to go and somethings that they might wanna try experimenting with in terms of that.

Where do you see astrology going? Where do you see astrology in 10 or 20 or 30 years?

ROBERT HAND: Well, I think what we have been talking about is going to continue. I am not sure that in fact we are going to see astrology accepted as a mainstream subject such as the sciences and social sciences are considered. That is going to require much more massive change in the consciousness of our culture. The reason is very simple. You might find this interesting, go on to website, you will find that under ARHAT journal, there is now a blog and I have posted 12 principles, not that I intend  to stop at 12, it has just happened be where I stopped. What a metaphysical foundation of astrology should include and the single big a stumbling block to astrology: Is that astrology is a strong indication that there is something alive in the universe aside from us animals?


ROBERT HAND: There is something living in the universe because astrology is a language.


ROBERT HAND: It is several actually, there is several dialogues of astrology and a language presupposes a transmitter and the receiver. Well, we are clearly not transmitting.


ROBERT HAND: And something is so you know you can’t have logos without mind and so a worldview which preaches that mind, soul, life and so forth, they are epiphenomenal.


ROBERT HAND: And that everything is the result of blind chance working with certain number of mechanical laws or statistical laws and the more recent ….. is absolutely irrevocably incompatible of astrology. The scientist are right. If we are right, they are wrong.

CHRIS BRENNAN: So in that sense  then is astrology not amenable to science?

ROBERT HAND: It is not amenable to what we call science now and  that is the whole point of what I have started to on the blog is that I am trying to outline the philosophical foundations of a science that could include astrology because remember what is the word science mean? It means knowing.


ROBERT HAND: Knowledge. The original word which I think really needs to resurrected. Because it is much more honest is natural philosophy or  philosophy of nature and that also makes it what is really clear that science is not opposed to philosophy, science is a philosophy.


ROBERT HAND: People say there is no philosophy in science. Well, is the expression goes officially should be last to discover the water.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. I guess one of the things that people often bring up when they ask is astrology a science? Or when scientist ask that is what they mean is in some senses also is astrology amenable  to the scientific method? Can astrology be proven or demonstrated within the context or the constraints of the scientific method?

Do you think that is possible or is that there is something that is … ?

ROBERT HAND: We know it is possible. Because it has already happened.

CHRIS BRENNAN: With Gauquelin or…

ROBERT HAND: Gauquelin. Yes, the Gauquelin data and interesting enough by the way I don’t know if you ever had this discussion  with anybody. But the whole sign house system with a couple of corollary ideas is the only house system that can actually explain the Gauquelin data.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. Because the Mars sectors occurred just before the Ascendant and then…

ROBERT HAND: And way up above it.


ROBERT HAND: And so in other words if you postulate that a strong planet rising has to either be neither the horizon or above it and in the rising sign which is the first house.


ROBERT HAND: Let you get exactly the Gauquelin distribution.


ROBERT HAND: And if you do the same thing with the Midheaven, you will get the Ascendant and Midheaven  peaks being in the cadent side of the angle.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. So in every other house system besides whole sign houses that would not fit the contemporary astrological wisdom that holds that angular planets are more prominent or stronger in someway.


CHRIS BRENNAN: Whole sign is the only one in which did actually make sense of that data.

ROBERT HAND: Though I would still define the angular 10th has been…, the angle of the Midheaven has been the sign that contains the Midheaven rather than the 10th sign. The meaning I would give to the 10th sign to some extent but the power I would give to the sign that contains the Midheaven.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay and making that distinction between  what… I forget it what is called the dynamic houses versus the tropical houses.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah. Exactly.


ROBERT HAND: Yeah. The Gauquelin issue proves the dynamic issue and to some extent the topical.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Well, then to whatever extent that is true and that works out then that would show another  area where some things that have happened and have developed in modern astrology could be amenable to and could complement somethings in traditional astrology.


CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. All right. Well. Yeah, I look forward to seeing what else you post on that blog and your website again it is arhatmedia.com. Correct?



ROBERT HAND: And the blog is access by going to the bottom marked out, it is not bottom, it is a rectangle marked Arhat Journal.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay and you will be posting there more frequently for now on.

ROBERT HAND: Well, I just pop-made my first post this week. I have also continued  posting on my Facebook page. Of course.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. Excellent.

ROBERT HAND: The difference is the Facebook page is going to be slightly more  meat and potatoes and the blog is going to be my far out weird stuff.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. And now that you just finished your PhD. What is your plan? I mean you are obviously you are doing a lot of webinars recently. Are you gonna be publishing anything soon or you are gonna be writing books?

ROBERT HAND: I am writing books. Yes.  I have several that are in various stages. One of them is going to be the book that I started writing at the beginning of  the soul process which was the book on essential dignities and I am glad I didn’t try to publish it earlier because I would want to revise it completely that is what I am doing now, I am revising … I wrote a full length book but I never was quite happy with it. So now I am going through and cleaning it up and bringing it up to date in terms of my understanding and one of them is I have given a philosophical   foundation to why a planet… Well, here is the famous instance if you believe in the 12 letter alphabet approach to astrology, you know where Aries is one in the first house and Mars.


ROBERT HAND: Then why is Mars exalted in a sign of Saturn but Saturn is debilitated in the sign of Mars.


ROBERT HAND: And if in fact  the planets in the signs just two variations of the same basic principle that can’t be true. Therefore …………. for example rejected exaltations on that bases.


ROBERT HAND: What I do is I show exactly what the difference is and why that is the case.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. Interesting. Yeah, that is gonna be a really great book then because a lot of that will probably present the case that a lot of modern people would need to see how made in order to make that transition perhaps to traditional rulerships or to using exaltations or bounds or what have you.


CHRIS BRENNAN: All right. Excellent. Well. I guess that is it then.


CHRIS BRENNAN: People should…, your workshop is this weekend. It is on… What are the dates again? It is December 14 and 15?

ROBERT HAND: It is coming Saturday and Sunday and  they started 10:00 am PST which gets everybody in a reasonable hour except the ……  some point ………… collection of webinars for Australia.

CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. Excellent. Well, everyone should check out your website which is arhatmedia.com and thanks for coming on the show.

ROBERT HAND: Okay. That is my pleasure.

CHRIS BRENNAN: All right. Okay. Well, that is it for the astrology podcast. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed the show then please rate it on iTunes and we will see you next time.