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Dane Rudhyar and the Birth of Modern Astrology

Dane Rudhyar

In episode 112 of the podcast Chet Zdrowski joins the show to talk about the life and work of the influential 20th century astrologer Dane Rudhyar.

Rudhyar is a towering figure in mid- to late-20th century astrology due to the technical and conceptual work that he did in reformulating astrology for modern times, as well as due to how prolific he was in authoring 40+ books on astrology and hundreds of articles.

During the course of the show we realized at one point that he may very well be the most prolific author of astrology books and articles of all time, as we were unable to think of anyone who wrote more than he did during the course of his life.

Chet specializes in Rudhyar’s work, and has recently started lecturing about different aspects of his philosophy and technical approach to astrology. You can find out more information about Chet’s work at:


Below you will find the show notes, followed by links to download or stream the recording of this episode of the podcast at the bottom of the page.

Show Notes and Episode Outline

Here is an outline of our discussion from the show notes that were prepared prior to recording this episode, most of which were written by Chet. While we covered most of the points mentioned here, there were a few things that we didn’t get to due to time constraints.


  • Astrology died out in the west in the 17th century.
  • Revived in the late 19th and early 20th century via Theosophy & New Age movement.
  • Three important figures were Alan Leo, Marc Edmund Jones, and Dane Rudhyar.
  • Rhudyar’s period of activity spanned from the 1930s-1980.
    • He was a prolific author. How many books?
  • While he cannot be credited with the revival in the same way Leo can, he was one of the most pivotal figures in establishing the philosophical and conceptual foundations of modern astrology.
    • He focused not just on techniques, but first principles, which provide a philosophical structure underlying the techniques.
    • Many astrologers have been exposed to his ideas but may not know that they originated with him.
  • Let’s talk about his life and work.
  • He was born in France in March 23, 1895 as Daniel Chennevière.
    • Early interest in piano and music in general.
    • Health problems, lost a kidney and adrenal gland at age 11, lots of home schooling.
    • He read quite widely: Nietzsche, Freud, Henri Bergson, Plato etc…
    • Death of his father at age 16, had a major epiphany about cyclic nature of world.

Coming to America

  • Wrote first book on Debussy at age 17,
  • spent a lot of time in avant garde Parisian circles
  • At 21, during the World War I, he sailed to NY with some friends, arrived 1916
  • The Starving Artist Archetype… pennies in his pockets
  • Music Copying, House Concerts, House Lectures, freezing in his NY apartment
  • NYC Public Library, introduction to Buddhism and Indian thought
  • Changed his name to Rudhyar, from Vedic god Rudra, reasons why…

Landing in California

  • Krotona astrology class at Theosophical center- 1920, soon after arriving in Hollywood
  • Didn’t join the Theosophical Society, BJ Wadia was his Theosophical mentor
  • Acted in silent films for a while, found it “uncertain and boring”, played Christ in a play for 2-3 months
  • Many House Concerts, House Lectures on psychology, music, philosophy and later astrology
  • Wrote steady stream of articles on music and metaphysics during the 1920s, used pen names also
  • During the 1920s he composed and performed a lot of music
  • Wrote “Rebirth of Hindu Music” a very early book on both World Music and Indian Music
  • He read material from ME Jones in 1930, got very excited about the possibilities for astrology

Music and how it influenced his astrology

  • Pythagorean connections between music and astrology, from his first book to his last book
  • Pythagoras as a seed man, “carried forth the Orphic mysteries”
  • He often talked of astrology in musical terms of Chords of personality, Progressions, Vibrations etc.
  • 2009 Biography, on his Music… he would be very happy that the first biography was about his music.
  • Rudhyar’s Music… Ultra-Modernist, Avant Gard… Scriabin, Schoenberg, Varese… “challenging music”
  • He could have just played Chopin, Saint-Saens, Debussy and been more popular, had to be Avant Gard…
  • Sample…“Stars” by Rudhyar performed by Masselos on YouTube, or Kronos Quartet plays Rudhyar
  • He did less music when his astrology workload ramped up… took up painting while living in Santa Fe-1941
  • He had two phases of renewed public interest in his music, 1949-1953, and 1969-75, these made him happy
  • His first book was on Debussy, second book was “Rebirth of Hindu Music”
  • His very last book, in 1982 was “THE MAGIC OF TONE and the Art of Music”

Initial Formation of his Astrological Ideas

  • Many influences for his initial flood of ideas and work
    • Astrological… Alan Leo, Sepharial, Max Heindel, Marc Edmund Jones, Ptolemy, Gadbury
    • Philosophical… Blavatsky, Jung, Freud, Henri Bergson, Platonism
    • New Sciences… Einstein’s Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Holism, Complexity & Emergence

Writing, Writing, Writing

  • Wrote lots of articles on music, art, psychology, philosophy during the 1920s
  • Harmonic Astrology pamphlets greatly impressed Alice Bailey and Paul Clancey 1932
  • Paul Clancy was starting American Astrology, told Rudhyar “I’ll publish whatever you write” 1933
  • Astrology of Personality – 1936.
  • He wrote well over 1000 articles over the next 45 years, this was a constant in his life.
  • Many articles later appeared in his books
  • He was quite open to new techniques and ideas, he had a lot of column space to fill every month.
  • American Astrology, Horoscope, World Astrology, Current Astrology, The Astrologer, American Theosophy, Canadian Theosophist, The Occultist, Hamsa… are some of the magazines he wrote for.
  • Two pen names in astrology magazines, Francis J. Ramsey, Daniel Morrison, other pen names also
  • He wrote between 44-50 books, depending on what you would call his pamphlets.
  • During the course of his career he wrote books on Astrology, Philosophy, Music, Poetry
  • I’m wondering if he was the most prolific astrological writer in history, maybe, any other candidates?

Later Influences on his Work

  • Roberto Assagioli, Sri Aurobindo, Teilhard de Chardin, Rupert Sheldrake
  • (This is almost a “Who is Who” of CIIS heroes)

What is astrology for?    

  • Developing the Mind of Wholeness, Seeing the life as a Whole, Learning to use Crisis
  • Rudhyar’s Prime Concerns…The Way of the Sage is beyond Good and Bad…
  • Structure vs. Content- archetypes have a range of expression, he calls this idea “content”
  • Path of Transformation and The Alchemy of Personality, he had a very Hermetic view

Some Key Concepts

  • Unity of Opposites, Day Force & Night Force
  • Harmonizing of Eastern and Western Paths- Theosophy and Beyond
  • Fate vs. Freewill
  • Karma and blaming the victim

Additional themes

  • Fields and the dimension of Interpenetrating Fields
  • Humanistic and Transpersonal Astrology
  • Holism and the “Movement of Wholeness”
  • He was a major pioneer in the study of the cycles and importance of the Outer Planets

Accessing Rudhyar’s Work… Resources

The Lunation Cycle Book

  • He had so many important ideas over his 50+ year career that it would be impossible to discuss them all.
  • A good place to start seems to be with one of the techniques most associated with him, The Lunation Cycle
  • Highly influential book, a smaller version, “The Moon” published in 1945, publisher abandoned astrology
  • Republished with newer material about New Moon before Birth and Progressed Lunation cycle 1967
  • Many, many astrologers use this technique and concepts, Demetra has done beautiful work with this…
  • Steven Forrest’s “Book of the Moon” is a wonderful addition to Rudhyar’s Moon work
  • Current version has a 60-page addition from Leyla, his wife, it’s an excellent reason to buy this version

Topics from the Lunation Cycle

  • Cycles of Position… Cycles of Relationship
  • Progressed Moon is a Cycle of Position, Progressed to Natal, was a major tool for him, not covered here
  • The Soli-Lunar Cycle- 8-phase system, not very different from Valens 11-phase system, Book II
  • Soli-Lunar Types in detail, brief description of the 8 types
  • The Progressed Lunation Cycle- Progressed Sun to Progressed Moon, is it a Time Lord system?
  • Part of Fortune, Part of Spirit, and the “Point of Illumination”
  • How would Rudhyar view Zodiacal Releasing?

Rudhyar in the 1960s and the 1970s

  • Young people flocking to him, he became much more widely known
  • The Counter Culture embraced him… maybe LSD was needed to catch up to his thought
  • Elvis Presley… Summer of Love and Rudhyar’s chart
  • Uranus-Pluto conjunction happened very close to his South Node of the Moon in 1967
  • Talks at Esalen, Richard Tarnas called these pivotal
  • Talks at California Institute of Asian Studies(CIAS), later called CIIS
  • The Indian philosopher that inspired CIIS, Sri Aurobindo, became central to Rudhyar in the 1940-1950s
  • He married Leyla Rael in 1974, during probably the peak of his “fame” and influence.
  • Leyla was a huge factor in getting much of his later work finished and published, and caring for him

Preservation of his legacy and unpublished work

  • It’s been 32 years since his passing in 1985 at age 90
  • His influence is still as strong as it has ever been, some of that is due to the popularity of …
  • Evolutionary Astrology, Psychological Astrology, Archetypal Astrology and other systems
  • However much of that influence has been indirect, he himself is getting less known as time goes on
  • It seems important to explore the many gems still virtually unknown in his teachings
  • It seems important and right to acknowledge his contributions


A transcript of this episode is available: Episode 112 transcript

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  • Great podcast !!!!!
    Can you please give me the link to the site he mentioned at the end of the podcast which I could’t find “caldiah.com” .

  • Thank you both for this most important contribution to the astrological community. LOVE that Rudhyar was so reserved in his thinking about karma, leaving room for all possibilities. so many are dogmatic about this principal. He was brilliant yet showed the hubris of a true philosopher Thanks again from a fellow Aries Sag, And thanks for all the great links too.

    • Hi Jen,

      I Believe that Rudhyar avoided the use of the term karma because so many of the Americans he was speaking to really didn’t understand it -and many still don’t. Rather than have people get lost in a concept they misunderstood he spoke of it very ,very often but in different terms. He was a profound teacher.

  • I had the good fortune to meet Rudyard at a small conference & performance of his music in NM many years ago. He was very helpful on question of fixed stars.

  • Hey Chris, it’s Mark from the reddit sphere. Finally listening and again I only realized the other night, he is a freaking beast…

    • Wow I got into Marc Edmund Jones and symbols before finding Rudhyar. So interesting to find these powerhouses came about around the same time

  • Thanks a lot Chris for the great work that you are doing – bringing to light the works of Dane Rudhyar. Please keep up the efforts , my prayer goes out for you, May you be blessed and keep advancing in your work.

  • I wonder what Rudhyar’s reaction would have been to the renewed interest in earlier forms of Horoscopy which gradually emerged in the 1980’s and the Archetypal- PsychoDynamic Astrology pioneered by Liz Greene in Europe in the mid to late 70’s . His more ‘spiritual’ , even New Age, ideas or approach still seem quite popular in the USA, as the discussion here indicated. Enjoyed the podcast, thanks.

    • Rudhyar always seemed open to considering new techniques or old techniques that he encountered. He was very enthused about the Part of Fortune and the Part of Spirit and would have been quite interested in zodiacal releasing. “I knew these were important” is probably what he would say.
      However, he would use these techniques holistically and in a growth oriented manner. I think he would be careful to separate the techniques from potentially limiting attitudes.
      Liz Greene would likely really be appealing to him despite not seeming particularly “spiritual”, he would appreciate her great depth of thought. She is a giant that he would recognize.

    • Hi Mike,
      Rudhyar has been called “The Godfather of modern western astrology “and there are ample reasons for that designation. But even today few people understand that it was Rudhyar who integrated Archetypal psychology and depth psychology with modern Astrology in the first place.He realized perhaps better than anyone in the 20th century that Astrology is a language and like all languages that humans use we tend to use them to -among other things-relate our experience to others and even to ourselves . Rudhyar stood head and shoulders above other Astrologers in pointing out Astrology’s reference to life and that it could and was in fact mirroring developments in humankind’s process of self understanding, and virtually anything else in human experience and consciousness.

  • Thank you for covering the work of Rudhyar with Chet so thoroughly and informatively. Despite reading Liz Greene and Robert Hand speak highly of his pioneering work, I found his corpus daunting and that I couldn’t find any information on how to contextualize it in astrology’s modern history, until this podcast. It’s fascinating to hear how contemporary many of his ideas were from early on and I’m grateful to have a place to start looking at his work

  • Really great episode, Chris. Can you clarify something? Did Chet mention that Rudhyar used both the Campanus and Porphyry house system? I read that Rudhyar used the campanus but did not know he experimented with Porphyry.

    • Campanus was Rudhyar’s favorite house system, and as far as I know he didn’t use Porphyry. He acknowledged the difficulties of the intermediate house cusps and didn’t think there was a perfect system. In his book on houses he stated that he didn’t like the Equal House system because there is no mid-heaven. However, astrologers now use the MC with both equal houses and whole sign houses, so I wonder what he would think at this point. Thanks!

  • Hi Chris: This was a wonderful episode. Thank you for facilitating it. As a side note: Do you have any talks scheduled with modern Astrologers?

  • A really excellent and enlightening podcast. Thanks to the both of you for clarifying Rudhyar’s influence and prominence with respect to the ‘germination’ of modern astrology. However, while listening, I couldn’t help but sense a negative, almost irresponsible, side to the influence of his prolific ‘penny-a-word’ style of writing, particularly as it has been carried forward as the basis for Modern Astrology.

  • Listening to this episode was so deeply enjoyable. Thank you Chris & Chet! So much came through on so many different levels. I’m excited to check out his music and lecture recordings now.

    • Hi Stephanie
      Thanks for letting us know you enjoyed the show.
      I think you’ll really enjoy the recorded talks, they are quite a gift to the astrological community.
      Be well- Chet

    • Hi David
      Thanks for the clue, I hadn’t thought of Noel. That’s a very impressive total and pretty likely makes him the 2nd most prolific, we’ll have to keep digging on that that question.
      Also, thanks so much for your work!
      I’ve gotten a lot of knowledge out of your videos and I’ve used Kepler for years.
      I’ve also become somewhat obsessed with the Pythagorean underpinnings of astrology, and your work is really helpful and illuminating.

      • Chet, you are welcome, and thank you for your kind response. I am glad you are enjoying both the videos and the software.

        I am glad whenever I hear that other astrologers are also obsessed with the Pythagorean approach to astrology. It seems like the Pythagoras/Kepler/Addey tradition has tended throughout history to usually be a relatively small group, but we are persistent and keeping it moving forward in the 21st century. 🙂

        This discussion you had with Chris in this video about Rudhyar was very interesting and illuminating for me. Many many thanks! Rudhyar had a very big influence on my thinking and I learned several very interesting and surprising things. Again, thanks!

  • Thanks for the great podcast! I learned a lot about Rudhyar! I went out and got “the Lunation Cycle,” since it was recommended as a great first Rudhyar book to start with. I just want to comment though that the sexist metaphors in the first two chapters are actually making it difficult for me to get into. I haven’t read the entire book yet, but it’s a bit difficult to get into, because his descriptions of women as reflections of their men’s lives, and the “dim” awareness of “primitive peoples” is distracting me from what he’s trying to say. I don’t remember either of you saying anything about his “old fashioned ” stances during the podcast. Makes me wonder if it’s really the best book to start with? It’s kind of a bummer, and alienating to read from a founder of modern astrology. Anyone have thoughts on this? I hope he stops bringing it up in the rest of the book!

    • It has been a while since I read his works, so I didn’t really remember much of that, although I guess dealing with some of the cultural baggage associated with the time and place that a work is written is one of the things that I kind of take for granted as an occupational hazard at this point.

      If you read some of the later treatments of the lunation cycle by the generation of astrologers that came after Rudhyar, some of those odd statements will be absent. For example, Demetra George and Bernadette Brady have both written on the lunation cycle in their works, and I don’t recall them saying anything like that in their treatment of the subject.

      • Thank you–yes it’s true it was a part of the those times. As I continued reading, I was able to find a better connection to his writing, since he shifts to talking about day and night and a more interesting metaphor of humans needing sleep and receiving certain kinds of information (lunar kinds, I guess) in that way.
        I think i was a bit bummed–you want to relate to the author’s paradigm or metaphor if it’s a technique you’re going to use! I’ve made my peace with it. Thanks for your response, and thanks again for the great intro to Dane Rudhyar!

        • Hi Dawn,

          I have sometimes cringed a bit at how Rudhyar’s thoughts might land on the minds of women encountering them for the first time. Not to worry, from everything I’ve read of his -and I have read a lot over the last few decades- he was not a detractor of the feminine, neither the archetype or its many amazing manifestations. 2017 was a busy year for me so I’m coming to this list of comments a bit late . By now you have no doubt finished the book. There is no readily identifiable starting point when it comes to Rudhyar’s work, but if I may say so ,his “ The practice of Astrology “ is a far better starting point then what was recommended . Then , The pulse of life”, The Astrological Houses. The book which really started it all , The Astrology of personality “ , which might seem like a good place to start should be left for later unless the person has a good background in astrology already . That said, “ The Lunation cycle “is an absolute classic book ,one of the all-time fundamental ,must read texts in all of astrological literature, but I don’t think it’s the starting point for people being introduced to Rudhyar. I concede that I am just one guy out here in the wilderness and not everyone will agree .

  • Dane Rudhyar gave a lecture at the Museum of Science in Boston titled, to the best of my recollection, ‘Astrological Prospects for the last Quarter of the Century. It was not quite the last quarter, a little before, probably 1973. Up to then I had been curious about astrology – you could say it was in the air. I read what I could and learned to calculate charts, but hearing Rudhyar speak that night and sensing the audience’s intense response was significant: it was time for me to get serious. I did, and these many years later I am trying to document the date of that talk. As improbable as the venue might seem to be, the Museum of Science did offer a series of talks on Astrology and Science (Gauquelin, Landscheidt & Ouellette April 15, 1973.) I have that flyer, but nothing to support the Rudhyar lecture. The Khaldea bio is nonspecific. So I’m appealing to the astrological community for a helping hand: anybody else attend that lecture in Morse Auditorium? Does Chet know who is the keeper of Rudhyar’s speaking dates? Chris, can you suggest another lead?
    Thanks for honoring the history.

  • What astrologers would you say Dane Rudhyar most prominently influenced?

    – Liz Greene & Howard Sasportas
    – Steven Forrest (?)
    – Jeffrey Wolff Greene (?)

    Who else? I’ve heard that, in general, he’s the Godfather of Modern Psychological Astrology and Evolutionary Astrology. I need to re-listen to this podcast, so apologies if this comment is a bit redundant after re-listening, but specific names weren’t mentioned in the notes and I want to get this down pat.

    • Hi Adam
      You’re right, we didn’t specifically list astrologers influenced by Rudhyar. Part of this had to do with time constraints, but I also didn’t want to appear to be diminishing anyone’s contributions.
      However, I do think it would be helpful to highlight more specifically the scope of his influence.

      You mention him being the “Godfather” of Psychological astrology along with Evolutionary astrology and that seems quite justified. He was also a big influence on Richard Tarnas and Archetypal Astrology in general. Rudhyar’s extensive writings on outer planet cycles and culture along with his philosophy of astrology were key in the development of Rick’s approach.

      I also attended a lecture by Daniel Giamario, the developer of Shamanic Astrology, a couple of years ago and he talked extensively about Rudhyar’s influence on his work.

      Rudhyar in Context
      Rudhyar’s influence is so far reaching that it’s almost “in the air” of modern astrology.
      Many, many astrologers who’ve hardly heard of him have absorbed his core teachings from their teachers.

      Rudhyar himself can be seen as part of an ancient lineage. Some of the astrologers in this lineage are Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus, Paracelsus, Marsilio Ficino, Alan Leo, and Marc Edmund Jones. There are many others that are less known.

      The central tenet of this lineage is that astrology’s highest purpose is as a tool for transformation and psychospiritual growth. Astrology can certainly be used for many other purposes, but it’s especially helpful when focused on its highest aims.

      Some Astrologers Strongly Influenced by Rudhyar…
      Psychological Astrology
      Liz Green
      Howard Sasportas
      Richard Idemon
      Clare Martin
      Tracy Marks
      Steven Arroyo

      Evolutionary Astrology
      Steven Forrest & his many students
      Jeff Green & his many Students
      Mark Jones
      Maurice Fernandez

      Archetypal Astrology
      Rick Tarnas & his many students

      Shamanic Astrology
      Daniel Giamario & his many students

      Demetra George
      Rob Hand
      David Cochran
      Jessica Murry
      Gary Caton

      • Hi Chet,
        I am one of the astrologers directly influenced by Rudhyar – still seeking confirmation of a significant (to me) lecture at the Museum of Science in Boston (see my question above post August 13, 2017). Do you know who might be the keeper of the archives of his speaking schedule in the early 70’s? – Phyllis Hill

        • Hi Phyllis
          Rudhyar’s wife at the time, Gail Whithall, was his business manager. She would seem to be the one who might have records. I have no leads or clues on how to reach her, if she is indeed still alive. In his musical biography (pg 28) there is a reference to a speaking tour he did that year and one of the stops mentioned is Boston.The title of the biography is Dane Rudhyar- His Music, Thought and Art by Deniz Ertan.
          I can send you a clipping of that page, it might be interesting to you. Just send me a request at czastrology@gmail.com
          thanks Chet

  • To those noted in your comment you can add three more great astrologers : Stephen Arroyo, Marc Robertson and Martin Schulman.

  • I don’t know of any quotes or evidence of Noel being particularly influenced by Rudhyar. It wouldn’t surprise me, but the astrologers I listed have spoken directly of Rudhyar’s influence on their work. This is a provisional list and I’d be happy to add Noel if you run into any statements he may have made. Thanks for the questions!

    • Thank you for lending your generosity, clarification and timely expertise. It’s deeply appreciated.

  • I hope you revisit Rudhyar’s astrological ideas again. He had such a full life it seemed like time didn’t allow you to explore his astrological ideas in as much detail, especially about the outer planets and other ideas that have been so influential. Great episode and fascinating person – thanks for persisting with putting it together.

  • I started listening to this episode recently. Curious to learn more about Chet, I googled his name and was saddened to find he passed away a few days ago. I will finish this episode with a renewed appreciation.