The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 249, titled:
With Chris Brennan and Benjamin Dykes
Episode originally released on March 29, 2020
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released May 6, 2022
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CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan and you’re listening to episode 249 of The Astrology Podcast. In this episode, I’m going to be talking with Benjamin Dykes about Robert Zoller who passed away a couple of months ago in January of 2020. Hey Ben, thanks for joining me today.
BENJAMIN DYKES: Thanks for having me back.
CB: Yeah. So today is March 27th, 2020, starting at 12:14 pm. Like I said, 249th episode of the show, and getting over a bit of a cold or something right now so my voice is a little scratchy today. You’ll have to excuse me, listeners will have to excuse that. But yeah, this is going to be a two-part episode where in the first half of this episode, we’re just going to talk a little bit about Robert Zoller who was an astrologer that both of us knew. And then in the second part of the episode, I actually have an old interview that I did with Zoller from a previous podcast that I’m going to play that’s about an hour long. The sound quality’s not very good, but it was a pretty good biographical interview with him that I wanted to play just in order to remember his life and work. But I thought it would be good to talk to you first just to open that up and sort of introduce that and discuss an overview of his life and some important points. And you’re a good person to talk to you about this because you’re, at this point, one of the leading medieval astrologers, and that was something that Zoller himself specialized in, and you did study Zoller’s course at one point, right?
BD: Yep, I took the diploma course. I actually took his certificate course and then his diploma course, and attended some of his well-known Canadian in-person intensives that lasted about four or five days apiece.
CB: Okay. So you did get a certificate in medieval astrology from Robert Zoller?
CB: Okay, cool. All right. Well, let’s set the stage. So his name was Robert Zoller or Robert E. Zoller. He was born January 25th, 1947, at 8:59 am in Mount Vernon, New York. And then he passed away just a couple of months ago on January 24th after a three-decade-long battle with Parkinson’s, and that was just one day before turning 73 years old. Zoller was basically, to summarise, was essentially one of the early pioneers in going back and looking at traditional astrology essentially. I think that’s a good way to frame very concisely who he was and what his significance was.
BD: Yeah, he had studied under Zoltan Mason who I believe was in New York and there were a number of students, and Zoltan Mason had introduced a bunch of people to the astrology of Jean-Baptiste Morin or Morinus. But Zoller struck out on his own translating new material and became a real champion of traditional and especially medieval astrology. Still drawing on Morinus a lot, but he developed his own approach, especially using Bonatti.
CB: Okay. And he went to college and had gotten some background and some training in Latin, or he knew Latin and that gave him the unique ability to go back and read some of these medieval and Renaissance astrological texts than other astrologers at the time, both either didn’t have the skills to read and didn’t have the background and languages or in some instances just didn’t have the interest in going back and looking at.
BD: Yeah. I think it was a good dose of both. And for a lot of people, it was just lack of interest, you know? “Who cares?” Right?
CB: I mean, there was definitely more of a feeling of innovation and trying to find new things and incorporating new techniques in much of the 20th century, it seemed like. And so Zoller was unique then in that he sort of went against the grain and started looking backwards at what some of the oldest texts were that he was able to read and access and starting to understand things like the history of astrology. Eventually, this culminated with his first book which was pretty early, which was 1980 and that was his book on the Arabic parts.
BD: Yeah, it was a sustained attempt to reintroduce people to the tradition. One of the things he would say is, he would say, “The old ways are the good ways.” He loved saying things like that. But it’s an important point to make, I think, that we regularly talk with hand on heart about our old tradition and how astrology is so ancient and goes way back. But especially then, most astrologers had no idea what had been happening in astrology prior to Alan Leo. They assumed either that it was junk, which contradicts the idea that we have an ancient science, or they assumed it was maybe very similar stuff. So he played an important role in reacquainting us with the very tradition that we normally claimed for ourselves and showing us what it really was.
CB: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. He published the book on the Arabic parts in 1980 and the original title was The Lost Key to Prediction: The Arabic Parts in Astrology, and I think later in the republished versions, they flipped the title and called it The Arabic Parts in Astrology: A Lost Key to Prediction. But it was basically the same thing.
BD: I have a couple of copies right here of his books.
CB: That’s the republished version. That’s more widely known with the Arabic parts in the title first. That book was largely based on Bonatti, right?
BD: Yes. It opens with some of Zoller’s own speculations based on sacred geometry and Neo-platonism. But most of it is a translation of Bonatti’s material on the lots, which in turn he had gotten from the Latin edition of Abu Ma’shar. So it’s Abu Ma’shar as filtered through Bonatti.
CB: Okay, got it. And Bonatti was a 13th-century roughly astrologer? He’s right on the line, I’m not sure whether to say 13th or 14th.
BD: Yeah, 13th century. And the book also, speaking of reacquainting people with the astrology, it wasn’t just a dead translation. What he did with this book and others was he then had a bunch of charts in the back where he started interpreting using the old rules. He was showing us that the old ways were also working and were not just an old relic. Which even many scholars, even if they were producing critical editions and so on, no one was bothering to practice it. But he was.
CB: Sure. So he wasn’t just into traditional astrology for antiquated purposes but he was actually a practitioner of astrology who was reading charts and applying the techniques in practice, which again meant he was probably one of the earliest people doing that in terms of Western astrologers going back and looking at some of these techniques.
BD: Particularly natal, we have to remember that there’s a strange feature of traditional astrology that there are some national differences that in England, they were not– and I think still do not do much traditional natal astrology– but they were big on William Lily. He was pioneering traditional natal astrology in the US at the same time that people like Olivia Barclay were reintroducing people to Lily and horary in the UK.
CB: Right, in the 1980s?
BD: Yeah, in the 1980s.
CB: Okay, that’s a really good point. This eventually culminates- I’m not sure if there’s any other things we need to say about him before we move on to the next stage of his career when things started to gain more steam. I did want to mention… He was not just a practitioner in terms of being focused on natal and in terms of developing predictive techniques and an approach to practical astrology, but he also had religious or philosophical interests in astrology, and there’s a strong undercurrent of that in his work to some extent as well, right?
BD: Yeah. There were a couple of things. He had a bit of a ceremonial magic background that he sometimes talked about. But he was also very interested in some of the older philosophies like Platonism and Neo-Platonism and Aristotelianism. I don’t think he ever got into stoicism, but-
CB: He wrote an article about it for the NCJ journal or something once, for whatever that’s worth.
BD: Okay. So yeah, he was very much interested in the philosophies as well. One of the contributions I think he made and one of the things that he insisted on was that there’s a lot more overlap with traditional astrology and other things like magic and traditional philosophy. There’s a lot more overlap than we think. And one of the benefits he conferred upon his students was getting them to explore those because I think it helps people have more internal consistency in their philosophy and outlook when their astrology, their philosophy, their spirituality all kind of harmonize with one another. So in teaching traditional astrology the way he did, he was also introducing you to many other areas of the Western mystery tradition and philosophy that many people would not otherwise have gotten into or even known about.
CB: Right. Also, because the revival of some of those ancient techniques brought up some philosophical issues that then practitioners had to wrestle with, and that was almost a necessity then of bringing back some of those ancient philosophies at the same time that they were intertwined with.
BD: Yeah. I think it’s especially true with the topic of prediction. I don’t know if that’s something we should want to get into now, or.
CB: I’ll just hammer through the rest of his biography and then we’ll do some of those other miscellaneous discussion topics. I think, now that I’m thinking about it more, that might make more sense.
CB: So in the 1980s, some people have told me that he was kind of like the lone voice in the US sort of promoting traditional natal astrology. And then he did hear, and I think he says in the interview that I’ll play later, that he did hear that there was starting to be this traditional revival that was being spurred by people like Olivia Barclay around horary in the UK, and he found that to be really encouraging. But it wasn’t until 1992 when he met up with Robert Hand and Robert Zoller that they decided to form a translation project to go back and translate a bunch of ancient astrological texts into modern languages, into English, and actually start reviving the tradition in full. And that was the birth of Project Hindsight. That was in 1992 with Robert Schmidt and Robert Hand who were the two other principal founders of Project Hindsight; the three Robs or the three Robites, like some people call them.
BD: We owe them a lot.
CB: Yeah, that was a historical, really important turning point in terms of traditional astrology. And Zoller, I’m sure was brought into the project to some extent because he had been doing it longer than anybody in terms of studying the tradition and studying traditional astrology and also producing some of those translations and working with the techniques. So certainly, he’d been working with traditional astrology longer than Hand. And Schmidt of course, while he had more of the background in classics in mathematics and everything else, was newer to astrology at that point circa 1992 than either Zoller or Hand would have been. So the three of them formed that project in 1992 and they started publishing translations at least by 1993. And under the auspices of Project Hindsight, Zoller, with some translation and some editorial help from Hand and Schmidt, published several translations from Latin, including parts of Guido Bonatti. He published a translation of Al Kindi’s philosophical work titled On Stellar Rays, and he also translated a translation of the Libra Hermetis. So at least three major texts that were appearing in English from Latin translations for the first time.
BD: Yeah, for the first time. Yeah.
CB: Yeah, so those were notable translations. Eventually, Zoller left Hindsight relatively early due to creative differences, I think after just a few years of being there and working with Hand and Schmidt, and he then continued teaching and promoting medieval astrology. He began offering a written course in medieval astrology that many astrologers took and that influenced a number of astrologers who then got certification from him, including people like Benjamin Dykes as well as Christopher Warnock, and I’m sure I’ve met a ton of other people that have taken his course and gotten that certification. Can you think of any other prominent notable astrologers that took it that you know of offhand?
BD: There’s a whole bunch, too many to mention.
CB: Okay, no problem. Eventually later in his life around the mid-2000s, he received some attention for his prediction about 9/11, about the September 11th attacks because he was publishing a newsletter in the late 1990s where he was making predictions based on mundane astrology. And he ended up making some eerily specific statements about the events that eventually turned out to be the September 11th terrorist attacks. He was actually featured in a History Channel episode in 2005 as a result of that. Unfortunately, he developed Parkinson’s disease in the 1990s and eventually, this became very debilitating by the mid to late 2000s, which slowed his creative output. And that was something he struggled with over the course of the past two decades until he passed away in January.
BD: Yeah, there was a story that I’ve heard– I hope I’m not spreading a rumor but there’s a story that I’ve heard that in the 90s he was doing construction work. And on a construction site, he got hit in the head by something and that it was shortly after that that the Parkinson’s symptoms started to happen. That’s how I remember. So it’s unknown whether or not he developed Parkinson’s the way it normally happens, or whether there was some kind of damage done by the injury, but it meant that he struggled and suffered for many years was something that is really hard to understand what he went through.
CB: Yeah, and I think Demetra told me a different story about some other speculation of how he might have gotten it. I’m sure he always wondered, and I know that he did try many different treatments and went to many different healers and stuff in search of something that would help for a number of years.
CB: I did want to share, it might be worth sharing his chart. I think that would be okay. I’ll show it here just using the traditional rulers as he would have looked at it. So he had Pisces rising, with Jupiter as the ruler of the ascendant in Scorpio in the ninth whole sign house. I believe it was also in the ninth house by quadrant because it’s on the ninth house side of the degree of the midheaven. Right?
BD: Yeah, I can’t remember how the quadrant houses go but I think you may be right.
CB: Okay. And then Venus up near the degree of the midheaven in the 10th whole sign house in Sagittarius, and a conjunction of Mars and the Sun and Mercury in the 12th house in Aquarius opposed by Saturn at five degrees of Leo retrograde, and also the Moon conjunct the ascendant at 11 degrees of Pisces. That’s his birth chart. I noticed it was weird that he passed away just one day before his birthday. It was in a first house perfection year but the New Moon was at like four or five degrees of Aquarius in January, which was right where his natal Sun was. So it’s kind of weird that there was a New Moon right on his natal Sun that very day. All right. So in terms of other discussion topics just related to him in his life and some things that were notable about him, you would have written down a few things in terms of things that you learned or ways that he influenced things.
BD: Yeah, I was thinking of specific things and general topics where studying traditional astrology under him changed my life or changed my astrology. And the first thing had to do with-
CB: -and we should say, practically speaking, that he translated parts of Bonatti, but then part of your connection with them is you came in later and you were the first one who translated the entirety of Bonatti maybe 10 years or 12 years later.
BD: Yeah, I published in 2007. When did he do his portions of it? It was under Hindsight?
CB: Yeah. It was like 1994 was Guido Bonatti parts one and part two, I believe.
BD: Okay, so about 13 years?
CB: Yeah. Almost just after over a Jupiter cycle later. I remember seeing you guys at a Project Hindsight Conclave and you saw him and I think gave him a copy or something like that. So there was some touchingness about that where there was a real handing over of the tradition, where something that he had initiated and started, you were able to bring to completion. So he was able to start to see some of that happen in his lifetime.
BD: And I was glad to give that to him because it had meant so much to me.
CB: Sure. Yeah. All right, go ahead. Sorry to interrupt.
BD: Well, one of the things that originally attracted me to the traditional astrologers, one of them was the idea of learning the new techniques or the old techniques. You might think this is all about, you know, technique-oriented concerns. But actually, there were a number of ways in which Zoller’s approach changed some of my- Well, you can say there was emotional and spiritual effects and psychological effects to what he was doing. So the first thing is, he would sometimes joke that what he was doing was therapy for recovering modern astrologers.
CB: Right. Because he was really adamant. He became a, what’s the right way to put it, like an extremist? Like a traditional extremist in some level almost to put a jokingly but not really.
BD: Purist? Purist?
CB: Purist, yeah.
BD: Strident could be a way to put it. [laughs]
CB: Definitely. And his statement like you quoted earlier, “The old ways are the good ways,” is not just a funny little thing. It’s like that’s what he actually believed. Oh, not just the good ways but the best ways.
BD: Yeah, in a way he was like the old Stoics who loved coming up with really dramatic statements like that, that could either excite you or turn you off. But if you look at them in the right way, they do something very important. One of the things was one of the practical things you have to do right away on in your astrology program is you have to turn off all the outer planets and the asteroids. To many modern people, this is a great shock, but one thing that this does is it forces you to realize how your mind actually works. Because most people don’t even notice that when they look at a chart, their eyes look at Pluto first, for example. They’re not even aware of how their mind is actually working. And what he was doing was removing from the chart the things that many people are addicted to without even knowing it, and forcing you to re-examine and reacquaint yourself with the other seven planets, you know? Poor old Saturn has nothing to do when Pluto is in the room. We started becoming aware of what is it that we are looking at? Also, in the chart, what kinds of things are we looking for? Many people and this is maybe natural in some ways, but there is something ghoulish about how many people look at an astrology chart. If their eyes look directly and immediately at, let’s say, Pluto and Uranus, and they’re looking for trouble and problems like they’re looking for psychological complexes, they’re trying to dig up dirt from the depths of your mind, it makes you ask yourself, “What am I really doing astrology for when I can’t rely on some of these things as crutches?”
CB: At the same time that being said, though, you said one of his first tasks that you have to do as a student is calculate your length of life, right?
BD: Well, that’s later. That was in a later lesson. This was kind of an initial shock treatment. It wasn’t as much of a shock to me, but it also forces you to ask, “If I don’t have, let’s say, these outer planets or asteroids and if I’m taking things out of the chart and making look cleaner and simpler, I’m starting to ask myself what kinds of explanations do I have for what’s happening in the chart?” So we start to realize and reexamine, what are the tools that we have been relying on and how can we strengthen them and enrich them with traditional concepts, and also in a sense, cleanse ourselves of some addictions that we might have as astrologers. So having more points in the chart does not mean more wisdom, could be another way to put it. So he’s forcing you to rely on wisdom and deeper concepts instead of larding up the chart with points. That was one of the very first things that happened, and it was a really good education and way of reexamining how I thought about astrology.
CB: How was that balanced, though, with him also being the pioneer in reintroducing the Arabic parts, which became certainly in the later portions of the medieval traditions the height of excess, or could become the height of excess, of excessive use of sensitive points that become unnecessary if used unsparingly.
BD: Yeah. There were traditional astrologers, I think it was Al-Biruni who complained that there were so many of them. And definitely, when I first started doing horary, this is before I started doing traditional, so I was a teenager and it was the early 80s and I was doing horary astrology and I was learning about these things called Arabic parts. And when I would do horary charts and I couldn’t understand what the chart was saying because I didn’t understand the basic techniques, I would start inventing lots of my own to hopefully just get me the answer quick. I think Zoller’s training was good because he trained you in thinking that less can be more if you have the right tools. So, just inventing new lots will not give you the answer if you don’t know what lots are in the first place. And if you do know what they are, then you can be sparing and careful in how you use them. So a lot of what he was teaching was care about what you’re doing, and in that case, less can be more.
CB: Sure, that makes sense. So he was bringing back simple things but powerful things like house rulership and knowing how to interpret like the ruler of one house in another house, and things that were core staples of ancient and traditional astrology but had somehow fallen out of the modern astrological approach to natal astrology.
BD: Yeah, it’s such simple stuff and when it’s explained to you, you realize, “Well, of course. Of course, that must be important.” But it’s surprising that you can have two people look at a chart and the traditionalist, the eyes immediately go to where the Lord of the house is, for example. But a different kind of approach and a more modern approach might go to something totally different. So it was back to basics, but also realizing what the real foundations of chart reading are.
CB: Sure, I know annual perfections and monthly perfections were another big technique that he championed that he was bringing back into usage from traditional astrology.
BD: That’s a real eye-opener for me. Yeah. I’d never heard of such a thing, I just thought there were progressions and transits. And here were these strange things called profections. I would say there have been a couple of times when profections and the idea of timelords has almost saved my life in terms of facing problems in life and realizing that traditionally various planets take up management roles in your life, but when they’re done, they’re done. And time moves on. That was very important to learn.
CB: There was one little special profection thing that he did that I learned from him where he would calculate the profected Lord of the year, and then he would do the monthly perfections to see when the monthly perfections would come to the sign that contained the Lord of the year or something like that. It was a technique that I always looked for and I never found in any traditional text, and I asked him once and he said that he learned it from an Indian astrologer at one point. Which I thought was kind of interesting in terms of his openness to looking at other traditions or other ancient approaches and sort of taking something of value if it was still consistent, essentially, with traditional astrology.
BD: He also, I remember, was the first person I’d ever heard of to teach about triplicity lords and the idea that they were not only interpretive but dealt with periods of your life. I remember I was in grad school and taking the course and it was summer, I think. Campus was all emptied out, it was just me and other grad students basically on campus, and I walked around for hours. I could not wrap my mind around triplicity lords and it took hours and hours of walking and walking, walking, and finally understanding them and realizing that my way of looking at the world had changed. So there was a lot of recalibrating your mind that happened because of his teaching.
CB: Sure. What were the other things? You had two or three other points of things like that.
BD: Well, one was something you mentioned that was one of the early lessons in prediction, it was on longevity and using the techniques to understand the standard life expectancy of a native and how to predict possible ends of life. And the homework for the lesson was take your chart and predict the date of your own death. And, again, it was kind of a shock, but it was really instructive because I realized, “Oh, this is really serious stuff.” Just as the old astrologers who worked for kings and generals, their lives were on the line if they got things wrong. And I thought about how easily I and other people just show their charts to everybody. “Hey, look at my chart.” And that’s when I really realized, “Oh, wait a minute, if someone can see something like my likely date of death, do I really want to be that open and promiscuous about showing everyone my chart? And what kind of flattery or vanity is involved in me doing that? So that was a really serious moment when I had to then get out my chart and apply the techniques and face my own death.
CB: Interesting. I feel like some of that thing about not sharing your chart also seemed like it came partially from the magical tradition, and that was something that he also had some interest or some background in. I know Christopher Warnock when I interviewed him a few months ago said that Zoller was actually the one who first introduced him to The Picatrix, which then ended up being very influential in terms of Christopher Warnock’s later work to promote that and eventually have it translated and be one of the sort of primary people promoting the practice of astrological magic and its revival again in recent times, especially the past few years or past decade.
BD: Mm-hmm, yeah. He had influence on so many of us in so many ways.
BD: So that was a specific example of a technique that really had a big effect on me. I think another example would be, well, we were talking about one of his other bombastic statements about astrology and objective truth, but in terms of prediction, well, it’s a practical and kind of a moral thing. Many people think that in traditional astrology with so much prediction going on, that traditional astrologers are really big on control, we think we can control everything or we want to control everything through prediction. But it’s actually the opposite. What you’re actually learning from this perspective is what are the things that you can control and don’t control and how can you assess your strengths and weaknesses and know when those will be, let’s say, it’s a strength, when will be a good time in life to take advantage of that strength to manage your life well. A lot of the predictive stuff is about wise life management and waiting for the right moment. Whereas there’s lots of things when you’re predicting, you realize that you’re not in control and that part of the moral thrust of this is coming to peace with your role in the universe, that you can’t control everything, you can only manage things and here are tools to do it. So coming to have some peace with your role in the universe and prediction helps show that to you.
CB: Okay. And along those lines, I mean, that does bring us to that statement that you mentioned in terms of he did sometimes go far. So my connection with him is when I was living at Project Hindsight for two years from 2005 to 2007, he moved back there and he reconnected with Schmidt briefly and lived in the same house basically for a year when I was still there. So I lived in the same house as him for a year. One of the statements that he made at one point, because I think he had actually given like a paper at a conference in Amsterdam in 2004 where there was a conference of academics and he caused a stir because he got up and he presented a paper basically saying that astrology was the only objective measure of reality or something like that. And that not only was the astrology always right, but it’s the only true way of knowing what’s going on in the world, I think was his basic thesis of that paper and it was something that he repeated. And I remember him saying then, and I’ve had a really interesting, complicated relationship with that because at the time I remember thinking how over the top and extremist and almost arrogant that that sounded, which to some extent is still true. And I think it was still weird for him to present that paper in that way perhaps at an academic conference of other historians of the history of astrology. But on the other hand, I’ve seen some ways in which that is true, where sometimes the astrology does give you insight into reality despite you sometimes not knowing that it’s right and sometimes even you thinking that it’s wrong or thinking otherwise and later only coming to realize that what the astrology was saying all along was correct. And I’ve gotten a better sense of why he started approaching things from that perspective and some ways in which that might have actually been true.
BD: Yeah. I think you’re right to say it’s an approach and a perspective because even if it’s not simply true that astrology is the only objective measure of reality, I think that’s how I remember it. He would say that. That may not strictly be true, but it might be good if you at least acted that way and focused on the idea of objective reality. So don’t look at the chart and look at Neptune and then ask yourself, “Well, how do I feel about Neptune?” Pretend Neptune is an objective neutral observer and focus on what Neptune itself is doing. Because we are all in various ways in our own mental prisons. And the lesson of this is that you are more deluded than you think, and you are more wrong than you think. And you are more filled with wishful thinking than you think. So if you say that astrology is the only objective measure of reality, it forces you to question your own mental prisons and delusions, so that if Mars is doing something awful in the chart, stop whitewashing it, come to grips with it and learn how to manage it instead of retreating to your mental prison.
CB: Sometimes then I remember that his delineation style could be very straightforward then and very stark, perhaps too stark in the statements that he would make to clients about what he thought his interpretation was of their chart and what that meant about their life.
BD: Yeah. His bedside manner maybe left something to be desired, but sometimes I think he might say sometimes you need the shock treatment. And I’ve had experiences where the chart is telling… And he would talk about this. Here’s an example to go along with this that you said sounded outrageous, and then later on you kind of came around to seeing it from his way. He would talk about how he would do public chart readings. And so when he would teach something, he said, “You have to have confidence in the astrology that when you see a chart and you’re in front of a group of people you can say what it means and you don’t feel worried about it.” Which can be scary, a lot of people would never do that which could show you that they don’t quite trust their astrology. But he would say, “Sometimes I’m in front of a group and people ask me to look at their chart and you can tell they want a certain kind of answer, but the chart says different.” He said, “So I tell them what the chart says and they will tell me that I’m lying.” And he would say, “The astrology is never wrong, they are the ones who are lying.” And I thought, “Wow, how arrogant can you get? You’re telling me that someone is just going to lie to you about their own chart.” So it just seemed so outrageous until it happened to me. And I’ve had times when I have, including in groups of people, read a chart and people knew how I was going to read the chart and I wasn’t going to whitewash it, and the person would say, “No, that’s not true or that never happened. What are you talking about?” And then I would think, “Wow, maybe I’m totally out of it.” And then I would find out later that no, the chart was right and that maybe they were embarrassed, or I’ve seen cases where people have been deluding themselves about what the chart means, and we find out later that the chart was absolutely right. So what seemed outrageous at first, I then came around to seeing things more from his perspective.
CB: Yeah. I’ve had instances like that as well and instances like that, including reading a live chart example where several astrologers did of the same person and all were seeing the same thing from different perspectives, but the person didn’t really confirm it. And then later we learned afterwards privately that something major had happened in part of the person’s life. So I definitely see that and I understood better. There’s still maybe some sort of moderation or balance between just assuming that you’re always right or assuming that the person is lying or whatever and not getting too overly confident about one’s abilities versus the importance of developing some level of skill and confidence. And I’m not sure what that middle ground is, but I at least understand the point better now.
BD: Yeah. I think my impression is we needed a real correction to our approach. So if it’s like Libra, if it’s like a balance, we’ve been like this for too long, and he really needed to slam down hard to get things more in balance.
CB: That makes total sense and that’s a great summary of just about everything he did with traditional astrology actually because he took everything to that extreme, but it was because he was like the only guy doing it for so long and it was such the opposite extreme for so long that he was trying to balance it out and maybe being able to contextualize his work like that would make more sense.
BD: Yeah. Either no one else was doing it or no one else was interested in doing it. And so he had to be the guy to do it, and I think he did it well. He changed a lot of lives and improved astrology for it.
CB: Yeah, definitely. And now the traditional astrology has become a mainstream thing thanks to no small part to what he did. So that makes sense. Well, thanks for joining me today for this. I’m trying to think of any other anecdotes, there’s probably a few. But I think that’s probably good and good place to leave this discussion. So thanks for joining me today.
BD: Well, thanks for having me on, I appreciate it. And thanks for letting me pay back a little more to my teacher.
CB: Yeah. Thank you. All right. Well, I’m going to play and transition at this point into playing this interview from Robert Zoller from 2010 from Traditional Astrology Radio. Sorry, the audio quality isn’t great but hopefully, it’ll give you some more insight into Robert Zoller and his life and his work. Welcome to WTAR, Traditional Astrology Radio. My name is Chris Brennan, and today is Sunday, January 9th, 2011. Tonight I will be interviewing world-renowned medieval astrologer, Robert Zoller. Zoller is widely recognized as one of the leading astrologers to advocate a return to traditional astrological techniques and methods, especially starting in the early 1980s with his book, The Arabic Parts in Astrology: A Lost Key to Prediction So through his work, he’s played a major role in spurring the revival of traditional astrology around the world pretty much everywhere from what I’ve seen. He also has the distinction of being one of the few astrologers who issued predictions about 9/11 prior to the attacks. So before we get started, I should state that more information about Zoller’s work can be found on his website, www.virginastrology.com. So Robert, welcome to the show.
ROBERT ZOLLER: Thank you, Chris. It’s great to be here.
CB: Yeah, thanks for joining me. So I wanted to start off with just some biographical information about who you are and where you’ve come from and what you’ve done. So first things first, how did you get into astrology?
RZ: Well, I was pretty sick as a kid, I had asthma, and I couldn’t participate in sports as much as I would have liked. So I ended up staying at home and reading just about everything I could get my hands on. So by the time I finished with sixth grade, I’d read all the Celtic myths, all the Germanic myths, all the Greek myths and legends. And in the course of doing that, I came across something called folklore. And folklore was primarily the Grimms brothers or one of the Grimms brothers, I forget which one now. But anyway, I read all that stuff. And in there I learned about magicians and unicorns and things of that sort. But the magicians and the astrologers and the alchemists really intrigued me. So it wasn’t until I was in the 10th grade, about 16 years of age, that I was able to get my first book on astrology and that was Edward Lyndoe’s book, Astrology for Everyone, I think was the title of it. But I couldn’t do much with it at the time because I hadn’t prepared to go to college. So I put it on the back on the shelf, back burner so to speak, and I didn’t look at it again until I was out of college. The first college I went to was in the sixties and you can imagine 1965 to 68, there wasn’t a lot of college going on on colleges, especially in New York. So I had a lot more time than I thought I would. And I got into reading as much as I could about astrology at that point. And one thing led to another and a teacher. And eventually disagreed with my teacher and he was instrumental in setting me on the right track.
CB: And this is the infamous Zoltan Mason who introduced you to traditional astrology?
RZ: Yeah, that was Mr. Zoltan Mason who was my first teacher in astrology, who told me that if I wanted to get into the real astrology, I had to get into languages and into the classical languages in particular. He rattled me off a number of classical languages, Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Arabic, went on and on and on. And then he said, “Now get out of here. Get out of my office.” He was a little bit rough. He had a tough time of it himself. Yeah, came to the United States after the Second World War. And it wasn’t easy to get to the United States from Hungary, which is, I think, where he was at the time. Eventually did get into the United States, became a citizen and moved here until about 1998, something like that, when he passed away.
CB: So it was at this point that you started studying ancient languages and started studying older traditional authors?
RZ: Yeah. I realized that he had a wonderful book store, Mr. Mason did, between 61st and 62nd I think it was. So it was on Lexington Avenue, the second floor up. So you used to walk up creaking stairs. Nobody would’ve ever been able to sneak up on him coming up those stairs because the stairs creaked very loudly. And then you’d walk through this door that had a bell on it, and he would come out from the back room and he would say something like, “What are you looking for?” In this almost threatening sort of manner. And people would say, “I want to browse.” “No browsing, you must know what you’re looking for.” But after you got past his rough introduction, he was a real sweetheart and he was real helpful if he thought you were serious. Now I convinced him that I was serious, and he was very helpful to me with the books that he had. And at that time, there weren’t many books published on astrology, astrology still hadn’t made it into the publishing world. Although people were buying a lot of books, whatever was available would be bought, but the publishers themselves were very cautious with what books they would print out. Now that meant that we had a lot of secondhand books floating around. Some of which were really outstanding books, very valuable. One of these books was Jean Baptiste Morin de Villefranche Astrologia Gallica. And that became the core of his teaching of astrology about the time that I complained to him that he was just teaching pop astrology, where could I get the real stuff? And that’s what he told me about the languages. And it was the languages that I went in the direction, learning languages in particular learning Latin, I did at the Summer Latin Institute in New York on 42nd Street in Manhattan. And I did two and a half years of Latin in 11 weeks. One of the women who had done this course prior, I think it was a year prior to when I was there which was [’74], she was just so impressed, this is such an intensive course, that she suffered thereafter from being pursued in her dream by passive periphrastic. Imagine that. So I learned Latin so that I could get into the original sources. And then I continued my Latin 1975 to 77 at the Institute for Medieval Renaissance Studies at City College under Madeleine Cosman. And I had very good fortune up there to meet Dr. Cosman, found that she was amenable to the kind of research that I was interested in. She helped me a great deal. And she put me in contact with and I became a student briefly of Richard Lemay, who was the world’s authority in Abu Ma’Shar. Very fortunate because the direction I wanted to go in, well, I was studying with Zoltan which was between 1970 to 1974, and realized that there was real astrology out there in the work of one Guido Bonatti. So I was aware that there was a very serious brand of astrology, pop astrology, and that pop astrology has continued of course to the present day, it is in the process of trying to fool us by assimilating itself with real astrology, but it won’t be able to fool us so long because it just doesn’t work. Whereas the stuff that Guido Bonatti and Jean Baptiste Morin de Villefranche did certainly does work.
CB: I mean, that’s extraordinary that you ran into Richard Lemay, who’s the world expert on the leading medieval astrologer, ninth-century medieval astrologer, Abu Ma’Shar, and who I think compiled the standard critical edition of his greatest work, but you had the fortune of running into him. And then that led to around this time becoming familiar with Bonatti. And that became the basis of your first book, correct?
RZ: It did. I was approached by Clark Stillman, who was at that time working for [unintelligible] in New York, which was a bookstore that catered to occult and oriental interest. And Clark asked me to write a book on the Arabic part. Nobody had written such a book at that point since Llewellyn George wrote a large section of his A to Z Astrology Delineator, which was a book that I had at one point. I don’t really think so much of it now, but it was an encyclopedic attempt, a great attempt to produce an encyclopedia of astrology. That’s the way I should say it. And it turns out that that book was influential, especially in the west coast where if I’m not mistaken, Llewellyn George was born. But the Astrologia Gallica, which was [unintelligible] it’s French astrology is the title, the translation of the title that, Gaelic astrology, it was a tremendous influence on me initially. I think I’ve gotten beyond it now with my interest in Guido Bonatti, which is the proper pronunciation of his name. I’m always being criticized for slurring these names and these vowels together [unintelligible] an Italian accent. The same Guido Bonatti, who by the way, Dante placed in the eighth circle of hell in his Commedia Divina, where he says, “Vede Guido Bonatti,” “I saw Guido Bonatti in the eighth circle when his head turned around backwards forever in all eternity for having [unintelligible] trying to prove the future and predict the future.” But he puts Bonatti in very good company in the circle of hell, which is where his actually lodged him in that poem. And he is in the company of one very famous Arabic astrologer and alchemist named Ibn Hayyan, Jabir ibn Hayyan is the man’s name, who is to astrology or is to alchemy what Ptolemy is to astrology, namely the distance acme, the far pinnacle of knowledge on these subjects.
CB: So at this point in the early eighties, you release your book on the Arabic parts, drawing largely on Guido Bonatti, and then basically your career in astrology, I assume, starts taking off. But what is it like being one of the only guys if not the only guy who’s into traditional astrology at this point in the astrological community?
RZ: So that was exactly the condition and the situation I was… Initially, I couldn’t give it away. I went around to the various astrological clubs and organizations and asked for time to speak on the subject. And went down a little bit of time from the Uranian society at the very beginning. But most of these organizations were a little bit at a loss, as you can imagine, they’d never heard of this stuff. They didn’t know anything about their own history. And it’s sort of analogous to the response that I got in Canada from a teacher of Arabic. And I said to this teacher of Arabic when she asked me why I was studying Arabic, I said that I am a writer, and I believe I said that to her in Arabic, [foreign] I think it’s the proper pronunciation for that. Lovely language Arabic, it reminds me of Hebrew in some ways and in another way it reminds me of heaven. It’s very rational, I think, and it has these trilateral roots. So you can make up verbs out of these roots and the same verb can be turned into a noun, and an adjective [unintelligible] Not like English. At any rate, I said to her, I’m a writer on astrology. On the second question, [unintelligible] was, “Of course, you’re a writer, but what do you write about?” So I had to tell her astrology. And she said, “Oh, I wasn’t aware that the Arabs knew anything about astrology.” And that was, of course, the standard academic paranoia about astrology. The fact is the Arabs knew more about astrology. They’d forgotten more about astrology perhaps, doesn’t mean they didn’t know. One of their great contributions to civilization is their mathematics, their poetry, and their knowledge of science and mathematics.
CB: Right. They became the sort of sole possessors of the astrological tradition for several centuries during the middle ages.
RZ: Yeah, the astrological community was pretty much in the same bag, the same condition as the academics prior to, let’s say, around 1980. Now, in 1980, I was going public with the fact that I knew about this stuff. And I was surprised to find there was nobody studying it besides me in the United States. So I started looking up, writing to all and sundry corresponding with [unintelligible] Ari Gilbert and a number of people in Europe and some German contacts, some French contacts, and English contacts. And little by little, I began hearing stories about Olivia Barclay, who was working very hard going through some similar kinds of experiences I was having, these would be getting recognition of the subject matter on the part of the astrological community. And she was running the same sort of problem in England, but they did get it off the ground in England. And of course, they have pursued it ever since the way the English pursue anything mainly on the QT. One of the differences between America and England is that we got big mouths, we talk about everything and they don’t. The mere fact that it looks as though nobody’s doing something doesn’t mean that nothing’s happening in England, it just means that it’s all behind the scenes. And I don’t think that I would be talking out of school to say that, I don’t think they would disagree with me if they heard them say that, so I said it and I’m glad.
CB: Right. So right at the same time that you’re sort of trying to initiate this revival of medieval astrology, you have friends or at least other people over in England doing the same, focusing their work on William Lilly in the 17th-century tradition. And then by the nineties, I assume you’re starting to gain steam and you become one of the founding members of Project Hindsight and ARHAT with Robert Hand and Robert Schmidt.
RZ: Yeah, that’s about right, it’s about the right timetable too. Things really fell together as far as I can remember and so far as I [unintelligible] things really fell together around 1992, I think it was, when we went to a UAC, United Astrology Congress in Crystal City, Washington, DC. And that Crystal City was even the name of the neighborhood or it was the name of the hotel, I don’t quite remember what the situation was there, but it was a very nice place that we stayed in. And Olivia was there, I was there, Schmidt was there, and Ellen Black was there, Rob Hand was there. And Schmidt and I were sort of auto-intoxicated at that point, we had our own dreams about [unintelligible] universal mathematics that would answer all questions. And his contribution to that was the recitation of what he had learned at St. Johns and whatever he had figured out on his own subsequent to that time. He went to college at St. John’s University, Maryland in Annapolis, I think it was. So he had things to say about [unintelligible] relationship to algebra. And I found that very intriguing at the time. And so we were sort of intoxicated and dream up at universal mathematics. But as fate would have it, we weren’t given the opportunity to do that. Instead, I think the, how shallI put this, the dealing in artificial intelligence insinuated itself into the conversation in such a way that we couldn’t continue the dialogue. Now, Rob Hand was there at the time, I don’t think he was ever interested in this concept of [unintelligible] He was very interested in astrology at that point. Now he had just recently returned from Spain, where he had met somebody who was studying the works of Philip II, the astrologer. And he used this astrology to do something that nobody except me and perhaps Olivia and Olivia’s students, including Maggie Meister and Lee Lehman, these people all had heard about [unintelligible] of houses. And as you know, that is essentially the planet that has the most dignity in a given house. This is a tremendous act then in judging what that house is going to produce and how it’s going to produce it and all the rest of that. And the houses are of course in the field or fields, if you like wherein the needs of certain concepts are emphasized. So by studying the rulers of those houses, you can elicit a very clear picture of what the chart is going to offer, what the chart is promising. Now Robert had had his head filled to the brim while in Spain by somebody who was studying this Spanish astrology it was. And he was very enthusiastic about astrology at that point, medieval astrology. He notified everybody at the time, and I was in the room and he said, “Zoller [unintelligible] medieval astrology cannot go unchallenged”. So he’s been challenging it ever since, and I think that’s good. I think that competition and that kind of stuff pushes us all to further excellence.
CB: Right. And then, so the three of you then get together, the three Roberts, and you start translating texts. You start producing a translation of Guido Bonatti, translations of the Latin works ascribed to Hermes. And that takes off, eventually you leave. But then by this point you are still and I think even still today established as the leading authority on medieval astrology in the world. And then by the time the late nineties roll around, it seems like you’ve got a pretty strong following and you’re issuing your, was it a monthly newsletter?
RZ: Yeah, I picked up the word somewhere along the line. I think I was in the Midwest. It must have been Michigan or Minneapolis. [unintelligible] New York. I’m terribly, I don’t want to say biased, but that might be the word I’m stuck with here. I just can’t imagine anything west of the Hudson River as being anything other than the Midwest. Yes, of course, but that’s way I look at it subconsciously. It’s the way I’ve been brought up to look at it. But anyway, we were out in the Midwest somewhere and we were getting a very good response. Rob was there, Schmidt was there, I was there. I think still at the same place. And somebody who worked for Matrix was returning some papers to Schmidt that he had left there at Matrix. And it included a periodical, and Schmidt referred to it as a periodical. And the guy corrected him and called it a sporadical. My newsletter was Nuntius [unintelligible] But really although it was intended to be every two months, I think initially, it really went to a period when it was one per month and it went for another period where it was sporadical in fact, and I guess that’s really where it still at because when Parkinson’s began to trouble me in the nineties, I couldn’t any longer maintain an absolute regularity with my writing. So it’s really a sporadical.
CB: But it was in that newsletter, Nuntius, that you started issuing predictions or you would regularly issue predictions. And I think one of the things that you’ve become the most well-known for outside of the astrological community is making some pretty specific statements about what turned out to be the attacks on September 11th, 2001. So what was the… Can you talk a little bit about those predictions and what the aftermath of that was?
RZ: Yeah, those predictions were made in a series of responses to people’s questions. The first one was made at a dinner I was actually invited to in London at David Broad’s house. [unintelligible] But also in attendance at that dinner was Liz Greene. So this was an attempt to put Liz Greene and I in the same room. And I suppose it would’ve been a little bit humorous for somebody to watch if she wasn’t such a confident and highly sophisticated person when it comes to interpersonal relationships, especially with strangers from your own country. So the sort of astrology that she practiced and the sort of astrology that I practice are really millennia apart as space and time. I don’t see any reason why I can’t talk about millennia in terms of the difference between what she’s doing and what I’m doing. But she’s an expert at what she does. Well, at any rate, that was the first context, that was where the remarks were made about the house of Bush. And I said that there’ll be a new president in the United States at the next election, that the new president will be in the house of Bush, but he will have as much experience in running things as the first Bush did. And I made a couple of other remarks there. And that was the end of that. Now subsequently, well, actually before that, I had made this statement in Nuntius that it looked as though there was going to be major economic difficulties for the United States, and that historically the best way for us to deal with that sort of thing, at least the way the economic pundits in the United States generally tend to do things, is that they wage a war as a way of getting you out of the swamp. So I figured there was a war coming. And then I got back home after the dinner in London and looked at everything again, confirmed my concerns, and started paying attention to Milosevic, who was one of the people who I mentioned in the Nuntius newsletter. Now, at the time he was a free man, then it wasn’t long after that that they jailed him. And I guess he’s still in jail, and I know what happened to him, frankly, at this point, but he was mentioned in one of those Nuntius newsletters as was Osama bin Laden. So the final two of my newsletters that pertains to this subject called out the danger of Islamic fundamentalism to American values and the American way of life. Named Osama bin Laden, named the month in which the danger is likely to happen, and the area of the country where the attack was likely to come from. So I think I did a passable good job on that aspect [unintelligible]
CB: Right. Yeah, I don’t think anyone else was able to issue statements that were that accurate. I think you said, “The greatest period of danger is in September 2001, it’ll be on the eastern seaboard of the United States”, something about inviting the degradations of adventure such as Osama bin Laden. So you made those statements and I think one of the things that not a lot of people know about is you actually did try to or you told me once that you tried to contact the authorities or contact the FBI in order to alert them to this threat.
RZ: Yes, and not just the FBI, but also the CIA.
CB: Right, but your attempts to contact them or at least to notify them were sort of rejected.
RZ: Well, they didn’t seem to be acted upon, but I’ve since learned that appearances may be misleading. If you call up Joe the Plumber and resurrect Joe the Plumber from a previous political debate a couple years ago, that was a name that was being bounced off of everything, musical guy. But it turns out that there are lots of guys named Joe and some of them are plumbers, so there is a Joe the plumber. But my point is that you call up somebody you think is Joe the Plumber. Somebody comes to your door says, “You have a package for me,” and you hand him the package and goes away. He might have identified himself to you as Joe the Plumber, but who was that masked man? Well, in this subject, in this field, you sometimes don’t know who you’re dealing with or know who’s subscribing to your work. So I don’t know who all the people who were my subscribers on Nuntius, and it could very well be that one of them or two of them works for another government or for our own government. This medieval astrology have become very interesting to certain elements of our society. Some of them are religious elements, some of them are political elements, and some of them are… I remember I had a very interesting interchange with a Pakistani fellow, Pakistani astrologer, who [unintelligible] astrology. And I learned later that there were probably political connections between him and Pakistan. You don’t always know. And as a result, I can’t say categorically that I was turned down, nobody ever turned me down in that respect, nobody ever expressed any doubt, but on the other hand, nobody ever expressed any enthusiasm, there wasn’t somebody waving a flag saying, “I’m in the CIA.”
CB: Right. Well, I just thought it would be good to point that out. I read a skeptic article sometime recently that was asking the question of if you had made these predictions ahead of time, then why didn’t you contact somebody? So I always thought that was interesting because you had in fact attempted to contact someone. But moving on from that, one of the things I wanted to ask you is if you have any advice to new astrologers or to astrologers who are just getting into traditional astrology, what would be your greatest piece of advice after your last 20 or 30 years working with traditional astrology?
RZ: Work, work, work. Stop wasting time [unintelligible] life is sweet and short, and the experience is difficult to get. Don’t waste your time on psychological astrology and on any other kind of astrology, then, put your time into medieval astrology first of all. Start at the bottom. Don’t assume that the people who are writing this book are frauds, because while that is true often of the modern writers, and especially as I have found out in these academic circles where you have academics involved with secret societies in various sorts, and they will criticize the only astrology that works. And they know that it works, they just don’t like to see stuff about medieval astrology. They’d rather write about Chiron and black moons and other such fantasies. And the third thing is to expect concrete manifestations of accurate delineation and predictions. In other words, the stuff that we’re dealing with is not airy fairy, it’s not symbols. I don’t know what word I can use in lieu of symbols, but it’s certainly not symbolic. We’re talking about something which matters somehow. When we say that something matters, we mean that it’s important, but we also mean often that it is operating in some form of matter. And I think that that’s the case in astrology. We’re dealing with changes in matter and matter on different levels. And some matter is more refined than other matters. Some matter is grosser than other matters. So there’s this given ambiguity or equivocation in the word matter itself. The word itself has at least two different meanings to it. And I have come to conclude at this point, I may change my opinion later, but I don’t think I’m going have to, we have to know what astrology is. This is still under in the [unintelligible] And what astrology is is the science, the only science at the present time except for perhaps string theory, this science are called astrology by the Neoplatonist and the Hermetic philosophers, and I don’t really care what the modern philosophers and physicists or the rest of them say. Astrology is a science, and it’s a science in particular of how God’s will becomes material and shapes this world. And it’s a very complex science, but it’s an extremely interesting science. And I personally think that when Stephen Hawking holds this television interview with this Jesuit guy, the Jesuit guy says to him quite appropriately, “I’m sorry to see you actually taking God out of your system. You didn’t do that in your previous book, you left the door open as to whether or not there was a God”. Now I think that the Jesuit is absolutely right there. And that we all should, however we understand this term God, leave the door open to the possibility that there is such a thing because I have a feeling that it’s going to matter at some time.
CB: That raises a question I wanted to ask you in an issue, which is, what is your philosophy of astrology at this point? And is there a specific philosophical school or a religious tradition that you identify with more or feel more sympathetic towards?
RZ: I’m rather eclectic. One of my friends from this area accuses me of drawing from this and from that and trying to piece it all together in some sort of mosaic, and he has doubts about whether these things actually fit together. I guess I have doubts about whether they fit properly together, but my eclecticism, which is real, he’s right in branding me an eclectic, I am eclectic, is nevertheless an effort of a creature, such as myself, looking at the world around me and trying to climb up to the Vestigia Deu, the footsteps of God, to the higher realities. What are higher realities? I better not go there. That’s going to take too much time. Let me say instead in answer to your question, which brand of philosophy do I favor? I’m very much taken with Kabbalah, very much taken with Neoplatonism, very much taken with Hermeticism. Is my philosophy pure in any one of these directions? Probably not because I’m not a sectarian kind of guy. And yet I did convert to Lutheranism in 1989, partially because it was my father’s religion, and because I knew that Johann Arndt, very famous Lutheran theologian, and before him [unintelligible] were all actively involved in astrology and alchemy and possibly even magic, certain aspects of magic, natural magic anyway, which is pretty interesting to look at because it’s very clear that natural magic is the parent of natural science. But at any rate, you raised two or three questions there. One was which one of these philosophies do I incline most to? Well, actually at this point I’m trying to wean myself out of astrology and go back in the direction of alchemy because there’s stuff that I passed up there years ago that I’ve got to reconsider and I’m very much taken by the… This isn’t philosophy any longer, but this will go under the category of practices practiced, and it was the Book of Enoch which sent me in this direction. You know the Book of Enoch?
RZ: Enoch is a wonderful book describing something that is mentioned only briefly in the Bible in a number of places. For instance, John on Patmos and, if I’m not mistaken, Paul and prior to both of them, Elijah and before all of them, before Elijah, Enoch himself, all practiced this out of body ecstatic, this ecstatic out of body experience, where they saw and had firsthand experiences of spiritual reality. So that’s something that intrigues me now. And I’ve been recently looking at Finnish paganism and Estonian paganism and the old Germanic paganism and Celtic tradition. I’m dabbling in all those. Started out as a sort of diversion, but the diversion is holding my attention. So I may end up doing something with these three areas of study or practice. All the more so because it’s plain to me now that the astrology that we’re always arguing about and practicing occasionally is a mathematical astrology heavily influenced by the Greeks. Now that’s not a criticism of the Greeks, not by far, but it does say that it is essentially a left-brain activity for them and for us. There must be a corresponding right-brain activity in astrology. And I think that that is met with in the magical field, but exactly how I’m not ready to say publicly.
CB: Speaking of that, one of the things about your philosophy I wanted to ask you is if you have a strong position on the issue of fate and free will at this point. I know in the late eighties you wrote an article on Stoicism for the NCGR, but then you’re also very involved in alchemy and in the magical traditions as well. So where do you come down on that issue of determinism?
RZ: Well, I think I still got to say along with Stoics that we have a nature, and that nature doesn’t really change. But having said that, let me make the case a little bit more strongly. I haven’t changed my opinion on the question of fate versus free will in the sense that I haven’t gotten off of the fact that what is going to happen to us happens to us. Little that we can do to change this. However, I have seen some interventions. I thought I saw it back in the eighties when I was struggling with the British free world concept and it’s coming down on the side of determinism. But now I have seen so many examples of intervention, which in a sense just something to measure it against now in astrology. In astrology I can say this is what’s going to happen. Then the magician or whatever you want to call the feminine version of the magician, maybe magician, I don’t know, witch maybe, a necromancer, that’s a nice word, I like that word. That person walks onto the scene and begins to change things for people. Well, I can’t help but conclude at the moment, and this I’m very uncomfortable with because this is not… With reason you’re like this, even when you don’t agree with the conclusions, you let the conclusions be clear, unassailable, plain as the nose on your face and unambiguous, but we don’t get that in life you see. And as a result, what I have seen and what I can attest to is that change can be brought about if you know what to do and how to do it and do it long enough. That might sound like a bit of a pop ad if you think about because it might sound as though do it long enough might be years. But I’m not really talking about years, things that take years to do, it might take a couple of weeks, on the outside, it might take one week, sometimes they don’t take much time at all. And change does happen. And it’s clear to me that this change would not have happened if it weren’t for the intervention of this person with the special abilities. Am I answering your question?
CB: Yeah, I think that’s a good answer or I think that’ll be sufficient. One of the last things I wanted to ask you is, do you have any advice or insights into any techniques or technical doctrines that you feel have been really useful to you, but that you feel that not a lot of people know about at this point?
RZ: Yeah. Now, this is a funny question because this is I’m getting right to the core of the issue of teaching, what you teach people in the context is… in which the teaching takes place. Well, one of the things I can say safely is that the dispositor has a twofold relationship to the planet or sign disposed by it. This has helped me a lot in my delineation. I think that I ran across this rule that I’m about to recite first in Morinus [unintelligible] and then I have worked with that for years and years and years and I simply cannot give it up without losing a lot of accuracy and insight into what I’m dealing with. So let’s take any sign, Aries for instance. Aries is ruled by Mars. I can see, by virtue of the rule, the good or bad signified by a house evidenced from the ruler of the house. I can see that this… Actually, I’m thinking about a specific case, I got to get that out of my mind, because I don’t need more than one specific case here. A little bit of mental discipline is going to help me [unintelligible]. Good or bad, signified by the house, evidence by the ruler of the house. First of all, is the house that Mars is in a good house or a bad house? First question. Let’s assume it’s in the 11th house. Let’s assume that it rules the second house, that Aries is on the second house cusp. Now, I want automatically to know what to expect with that configuration. And since Mars’s sign, Aries, is on the second house cusp, which is a questionable or mixed house, not really bad, certainly not really good. The malefic nature of Mars does tend to make you think that the person who is at this configuration is willing to do just about anything to make a buck. They’re not going to let any oppositions of any sort get in their way. At the same time… so what you’ve got in that case is you’ve got Mars the planet ruling the second house is the source of the money. The money made is coming from that Mars, and Mars is going to show it how the money is made, how much money is made, all the rest of that good stuff. So the ruler of the house is the source of the house. At the same time, the ruler of the house is also the outlet for the house. Because if that Mars were in the fifth house, it could very well be that your children get your money because the energy like an electrical circuit between the sign and the ruler of the sign. So that’s the second way the rulership works. And the good or bad signified by house evidenced from the ruler of the house will often explain a great deal. Now, I just had a good friend over here. She had Aries on the ninth house, and she had Mercury in the ninth in Aries. It’s actually in the eighth. Actually, it’s in the ninth house by quadrant houses. Taurus would be the ninth house [unintelligible] by whole sign houses. Now, if we look at this from the point of view of whole sign houses, that Venus in the seventh house which is exalted in the seventh house promises a lovely partnership. She hasn’t had very lovely partnerships because her Mercury, ruler of her Ascendant in Aries in the ninth house by quadrant houses is square to Jupiter, ruler of the seventh house. The ruler of the first and ruler of the seventh in inimical relationship to each other by the square makes the hostility there. But if you want to get into, and she has had plenty of hostility in relationships, notwithstanding that Venus, which I think is going to eventually pay off and help her a great deal, but you got to keep her buoyed up in order for that blessed day to come by. You get where I’m going with that?
CB: Yeah. I think that makes a lot of sense. That’s definitely a core rule, and I can even apply that.
RZ: If I want to go further, I can say about that Mercury. That Mercury in Aries makes a debater, somebody who is very good at debating legal issues in particular. And in the old days and the Middle Ages, they would say canon law as well as second law. She’s sharp as a tack, but she’s got problems with her relationship. But that Mercury in Aries is disposed by Mars. And Mars is causing that debate. So if you can do that and you can link in the house meaning to the planet’s positions in the sign, you’ve got detail which is very admirable.
CB: Okay. Well, I guess we’ll go ahead and wrap this up. What are you working on now and where can people find out more about your work?
RZ: So they can go to www.virginastrology.com at the moment and hopefully for a long time hence. And what I’m working on at the moment is that stuff that I alluded to before, talking about this non-mathematical astrology. I’m very interested in the spiritual aspect of astrology and perhaps even in the religious aspect of astrology. I’ll leave it at that.
CB: Okay. Well, great. Well, everyone, please check out his website at virginastrology.com. And Robert, thanks for coming on the show.
RZ: Thank you for having me, Chris. It’s always a pleasure talking to you, and I hope that everybody enjoys what we [unintelligible] but most importantly that they enjoy what we’re talking about.
CB: Well, that’s it for tonight’s show. Thanks for listening to Traditional Astrology Radio, and I will see you next time.
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