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Heliodora and the Early History of Women Astrologers

Heliodora and the Early History of Women Astrologers

In episode 402 Demetra George joins the podcast to talk about the recent discovery of the earliest named astrologer from the Hellenistic tradition who was a woman, Heliodora, and the early history of women practitioners of astrology.

Heliodora was an astrologer who lived in the city of Terenuthis in Egypt around the 2nd or 3rd century CE.

Her tombstone was recently discovered by archeologists, who published a paper in 2021 which noted that she is the earliest known woman in the Greco-Roman tradition that is known by name to have been a practicing astrologer.

During the course of the episode we talk about what is known about Heliodora and the location and time period in which she lived, and we also discuss other historical women that may have had some connection with astrology and astronomy.

For more information about Demetra see her website:


This episode is available in both audio and video versions below.


Roger S. Bagnall, Cathy L. Callaway, and Alexander Jones,  “The Funerary Stele of Heliodora, Astrologer,” Muse: Annual of the Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri, 53/54, 2019-2020 (published 2021), pp. 28–45. [Link to PDF]

Nadia Anderson, Drawing Down the Moon & Aglaonice of Thessaly [Link to PDF]

Earlier Episodes

Previous episodes of The Astrology Podcast mentioned in this episode:


  • 00:00:00 Intro
  • 00:02:45 Why there were few ancient female astrologers
  • 00:04:00 Horoscopes for ancient women
  • 00:09:25 Hypatia in the 5th century and Queen Buran in the 9th century
  • 00:10:48 Heliodora article
  • 00:14:05 Heliodora as a “mathematike” or mathematician
  • 00:21:28 Urania, Greek goddess of astrology
  • 00:23:13 Enheduanna, poet and priestess
  • 00:25:44 Egyptian goddess Seshat, scribe and astronomer
  • 00:27:45 Aglaonice, predictor of eclipses
  • 00:34:22 Were women practicing astrology prior to Hellenistic astrology?
  • 00:39:20 Oracle of Delphi and divination
  • 00:44:43 Heliodora’s tombstone
  • 00:46:35 Heliodora’s time period and location
  • 00:58:04 Blending of Egyptian and Greek cultures with Helidora
  • 01:01:37 Images and inscription on the tombstone
  • 01:03:54 Heliodora remained unmarried to pursue astrology
  • 01:11:40 How Helidora learned astrology
  • 01:18:04 Family lines of astrologers: Balbilla, Thrasyllus, Commagene
  • 01:31:00 Julia Balbilla, poet
  • 01:40:33 Women astronomers in Sumerian-Babylonian history
  • 01:42:04 Death of Ellen Black and her role in starting Project Hindsight
  • 01:46:28 Rise of women astrologers in the 20th century
  • 01:51:04 New discoveries being made of notable Islamic and Indian women astrologers
  • 01:54:40 Lost text of Ptolemy discovered
  • 01:55:55 Demetra’s background
  • 01:59:29 Demetra’s course on hand-calculating a chart
  • 02:07:14 Asteroid retreat and lectures
  • 02:09:27 Patrons and sponsors

Watch the Video Version of This Episode

Watch the video version of this episode on YouTube:


A full transcript of this episode is available: Episode 402 transcript

Listen to the Audio Version of This Episode

Listen to the audio version of this episode or download it as an MP3:

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