The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 343, titled:
Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy
With Chris Brennan and Eric Purdue
Episode originally released on March 16, 2022
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 March 24, 2022
Copyright © 2022 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hey, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. In this episode, I’m going to be interviewing Eric Purdue and talking about his new translation of the three books of occult philosophy from the 15th, 16th-century occultist and philosopher, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa. So, hey Eric, welcome to the show.
ERIC PURDUE: Thanks for having me.
CB: Yeah. And just for those that pay attention to such things, today is Saturday, March 12th, 2022, starting at 11:55 AM in Denver, Colorado and this is the 243rd episode of the show. So you have been… I’ve actually known you. I think we originally met through the old astrology forum that I used to run on Myspace many years ago in the mid-2000s. And way back at some point, I think towards the end of that decade, 2008, 2009, I remember you sending me like some pieces of this translation you were working on even way back then of this huge tome of this book that you were working on. How long have you been translating this book?
EP: Seriously since 2011. I was doing little snippets before I got to see if I could, so yeah.
CB: Okay. And this is the first time that this book has been translated into English again in over 300 or 350 years or something like that?
EP: I think it’s more than that. I was doing the math yesterday, it was I think 370.
CB: Wow, okay. So there was one prior translation but it was done so long ago in like the 17th century that it is itself both kind of weird in terms of its language, but also a little unreliable. So that’s one of the reasons that you wanted to do this. What’s your background? And you have a background in both astrology as well as magic, right?
EP: Yes. I’ve been practicing magic since, well, seriously since 1990. And mostly through the Afro-Cuban sphere, I sort of fell into that accidentally. My teacher was unusual. He was a Cuban, and he was unusual in that he was also interested in Western esoteric tradition as well. So he knew some astrology. He used to elect some of our ceremonies, probably not well in retrospect. But he introduced me to Agrippa. He also introduced me to Picatrix, which I think is interesting because this would be mid-90s, and that really wasn’t on a lot of people’s radars yet. He didn’t know about the critical edition that was of both books, which would’ve already been out. So he didn’t really have a copy of Picatrix, he just knew subject matter and all that. But we talked a lot about Aggripa back then.
CB: Okay. And I was talking with my friend Austin Coppock about this the other night, and he was telling me that there’s been a similar revival just like how in the astrological community starting in the 1990s, there was a revival of older forms of astrology and a sort of like looking back into what are some of the sources of the Western astrological tradition from prior to the past century and realizing that things were sometimes done very differently in modern times compared to even a few centuries ago or a thousand years ago or what have you. And he was saying there was a similar trend in some of the magical communities to start going back and looking back at some of the sources of the Western magical tradition. And it seems like this work is very much at the intersection of those two trends of the revival of ancient astrology and revival of the more traditional practices in magic. And maybe we should situate and frame and explain for those that have no background on this text whatsoever, who Aggripa is, what this book is, and why it’s important and influential.
EP: Yeah. I wanted to mention really quickly too that one of the interesting things that I’ve always noticed is how the histories of astrology and magic really were parallel. They didn’t always cross, but the revivals and all the various revivals that it’s been through and philosophical changes were exactly the same when the psychological revolution happened in the, I guess, 20th century, that also happened with magic. Same thing with the Hermetic, the medieval Hermetic revival happened both astrology and magic, this new renaissance that’s happening with translation projects, they’re both happening at the same time. I think astrology had a bit of a jump on that compared to the magical world. But it’s interesting that they’re always running alongside each other, even though today the two camps don’t always cross.
CB: Yeah, I mean, for me, I had always focused more on the astrological tradition in isolation, and there’s a lot of like ancient works where they are just purely astrological or the astrologers are just doing astrology purely. And I was aware that there were also magical texts that were doing magic sort of purely on its own and some of the histories of that. And then that there were occasional intersections, but it seems like this work in reading it and especially reading your translation recently is one of the huge nexus points where astrology and magic very much intersected and were synthesized and combined in a really major way when he published this work in the early to mid 16th century, basically during the Renaissance.
EP: And it was always that way throughout most of the ancient world up until really the 19th century, I think. I’m not sure about the Hellenistic world because they don’t really have astrological magic in the way that we think of it today. It’s a very different world there. So I’m not sure how those two mixed, I think it was part of the same worldview for sure. But today people tend to compartment compartmentalize things and really they’re all… It’s all one big soup really, I think.
CB: Yeah. I mean, it was something I talked about last month in my episode on Hermeticism. There was a little bit of an issue in the early Hellenistic tradition because of the influence of Stoicism. And a lot of the early Hellenistic astrologers were really focused on learning what your fate is, so that you know what you have to accept in the future. And that’s like the point and purpose of astrology. And I think then that was sort of self-contained in terms of just doing the astrology for the sake of that, but then definitely once you get later into the Hellenistic tradition and especially into the medieval tradition, there was more tensions with concepts of free will and Stoicism fell out of fashion, and therein we see the rise of some of the magical traditions and their integration with astrology because some of the magical traditions were playing with this question of once you know your fate, what if you could change it or if you could do something to alter things in some way or work with it in a way that’s more constructive rather than just adopting this position of acceptance I think.
EP: Yeah, it’s an interesting shift that happened. And that shift happened largely because of the fall of the Roman Empire. And both, again, these parallel histories, astrology and magic moved east over to Byzantium and Persia. And the Persians were definitely very much interested in jailbreaking astrology a little bit for magical purposes. And that had been around for a while in some of the cultures in that area such as [Iranians] and things like that. And by the time it came back into Europe, it was sort of taken for granted that it was always done. But it really developed after, I think in the form that we recognize it, after the fall of Roman empire. It’s a very interesting shift to me. Because you’ll see a lot of that in early astrological literature and things like the Greek Magical Papyri. They don’t have a lot of complex elections, they have things like this is a ceremony for this particular star or constellation or something like that, but you don’t have these complex Venus elections, where Venus has to be in a particular position, things like that. That seems to be much later.
CB: Right, yeah. That makes sense. All right. So let’s circle back around the a question. What is this work that we’re talking about and why is it important or influential?
EP: So the Three Books is interesting because is it is the first book that I’m aware of that has this all-encompassing philosophy that covers all of esoterica. He puts everything in one place. So it’s astrology, it’s magic, it’s a lot of what we would call today magic, but also they call it natural philosophy, which is the study of the esoteric effects of plants, animals, and stones and things like that. That’s kind of part of the magic umbrella today. But back then, you had this kind of all-encompassing worldview. And there was a lot of conflict before Agrippa wrote the book about how to reconcile magic and astrology with, say, Christianity. And this book, and I know we’re going to go into this more deeply, but this book seeing that there’s really nothing like it, it never really disappeared from the shelves. I mean, it was translated during the esoteric revival in England in the 1600s. And that copy was disseminated and reprinted throughout till today. And it was influential in things like the formation of the Golden Dawn and a lot of 19th century and early 20th century [large] magical systems. It’s used as a source for pretty much any book on herbs and stones that have been, modern books. It’s so readily available. But it’s this all-encompassing worldview that he has which I think is entirely unique and something that is really missing today. A lot of people don’t really want to take it to the level that Agrippa did, which is fascinating to me.
CB: Right. So this is work the final version of which was published in 1533, correct?
EP: Yeah, 1533.
CB: 1533. And Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa was originally a… He was German. He wrote the work in Latin. It’s a massive text on all different spheres of occultism. And it ended up being basically like the single most influential text or one of the single most if not the most influential text on occultism over the past 500 years basically since that time, because it was translated into English relatively early on only about a century later and ended up influencing a ton of different subsequent occult traditions all over the Western world since that time, including even famously I think the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. When he died, he’s said to have been found with a Jupiter talisman around his neck, and the design was the same as the one that was in Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy.
EP: Yeah. What’s interesting about that is it probably wasn’t directly Agrippa, it was probably from The Magus by Barrett, Francis Barrett, I think. And that book was mostly plagiarized from Three Books, which I guess in turn was also plagiarized from many books, but the Jupiter talisman that he had has a feature in the sigil which reproduced a printing flaw. That’s in Barrett’s Magus, which is I think… So I don’t think it was directly Agrippa, but it could have been. But The Magus was very readily available, maybe more so than Agrippa during his time.
CB: Yeah, and whether it was like direct is a little inconsequential, but the point is just that the writing of this book in the 16th century ended up influencing and being sort of the grandfather of many, many different occult traditions in the west over the past 500 years, making it… I mean, I think your book or one of the introductions says that it’s the single most influential occult text in the past 500 years. Would you say that’s true or what’s your ranking in terms of that?
EP: I do, because when you compare it with other major books, I mean there aren’t many books like this that lay out esoteric thought in this way. I think the predecessors… I mean, the closest would’ve been probably Ficino, but there’s sort of gaps in his thinking, which is why I think Agrippa tackled it. A lot of it comes down to the central question of what is good magic? What is bad magic? And Agrippa wanted to really reconcile this idea that we had these ancient sages such as ancient Greeks and Romans that were hardly questioned in the Renaissance. I mean, people like Plato, and they were doing all of these non-Christian things yet they’re revered as being wise. So how does that work with Christianity? And that’s kind of the central theme with this. And I don’t want that to scare people because there’s a lot to be learned from that kind of inquiry. Because today instead of Christianity, we might be trained to reconcile it with science, the scientific review. So I think there’s a lot of value in kind of deconstructing this and figuring out, “Okay, how does this work for me?” And if nothing else, getting you to ask those questions. But there’s nothing else like that. There’s some major books about the Golden Dawn, but they don’t really deal with this kind of worldview either. I mean, most books on magic and astrology frankly are recipe books. They’re books on techniques. And in the modern era, there hasn’t been a lot of attention paid to developing a philosophical worldview around that. And with Agrippa being so readily available, I mean, nothing can really beat that. I mean, Ficino isn’t widely available to people today.
CB: Right. So this is a person who’s living basically during the height of what we consider to be the Renaissance and he writes this huge tome initially relatively early in his life. He’s only like 24 years old when the first draft is written, but he draws on and compiles a bunch of both ancient sources that he has at his disposal on both philosophy and magic and astrology, but also he incorporates interestingly, a lot of contemporary sources and thinking that was present during the Renaissance including, like you said, large parts from the work of Marsilio Ficino, who was working just a few decades prior to Agrippa.
EP: Yeah, not far.
CB: Yeah, so and from that, he’s incorporating some of the things that we associate with the Renaissance like the rediscovery of the works on the Corpus Hermeticum. And we find passages and influences from the Corpus Hermeticum coming up in his work, as well as some of the influence of some of the thinking of Platonism and Neoplatonism
CB: So one of the big things though that you’re influencing or emphasizing here that’s really important is that this is not just three books on practically how to do magic, even though it has that in it, but also he tries to basically synthesize a bunch of the earlier magical and philosophical traditions and provide a rationale and a worldview that allows for magic within the 16th-century context.
EP: Yes, and for him, it would’ve been important to show that it was part of a natural and divine process and not just simply demons or something like that. Because again, that was a major concern because astrology’s a good example where the church didn’t necessarily condone astrology, but they had to acknowledge that it worked still, and they used astrology widely for medicine. And that was okay by and large. So the question isn’t whether or not it was real, the question is whether or not there is a way for it to be okay.
CB: So he’s writing this in the Renaissance. And one of the things that’s really important for my audience in terms of him not just developing a philosophy for magic, but one of the things I was really struck by was the very central role of astrology in his entire conceptualization of magic as being this core overarching thing that is sort of woven both philosophically as well as practically almost throughout the entire work.
EP: Yeah, astrology is essentially the physics of the ancient world because the basic worldview would be that influences come from God or the first cause or however you want to conceptualize that. And it goes down through several levels until it hits the planets, and the planets then lend their influences in their own way until it reaches the Moon. The Moon disperses those influences to us and everything else on the planet. So if we’re doing magic or if we’re doing any kind of enterprise on Earth, then the planets have to be part of that picture. So it’s everywhere in the book. And there’s a lot of chapters that are explicitly astrological, but there’s a lot of material in there that just it’ll mention maybe in one sentence, and I think it’s important to understand that this isn’t… The astrology just wasn’t a divinatory tool to someone like Agrippa, this was… Even if you weren’t explicitly using astrology, it was just how things worked, that’s how nature worked. Astrology was the means by which divine influences came into being for us. So it goes pretty deep.
CB: So one of the things I was struck by was the extent to which he says that you have to pay attention to the astrology and the inceptional astrology or the electional astrology any time that you want to attempt to do any sort of magical working and how thoroughly that is integrated into his philosophy and his actual practice of magic. That you have to have an auspicious sort of astrological alignment at the time in order for things to be successful.
EP: Yes. And it seems this is a throwaway statement, but in one of the chapters, he says that when starting some sort of a magical operation or any other enterprise, and then he just kind of moves on to electional astrology. Which was a fascinating idea to me because I think to a lot of astrologers… I think a lot of astrologers do elections for non-magical purposes. We did it for this podcast. But the idea with that is that if… Especially if the Moon is disposing these influences, if something is damaged, then that’s going to damage the operation that you’re doing, the work that you’re doing. And since this is part of the primary worldview to someone like Agrippa and to the time, it’s a given, I think. It’s interesting the level in which they paid attention to this sort of thing.
CB: Right. So that comes up, for example, in making talismans. And if you want to invoke or capture the power of a specific planet, you have to do it at a specific astrological time in which that planet is powerful or prominent and well situated. But more broadly, just how much he integrates that into doing any sort of magical working or operation is interesting, because I don’t think that’s been the case necessarily or that continued to be the case in modern times. So that sometimes creates tensions with modern practitioners of magic who maybe don’t pay attention to astrology and want to be able to just do whatever they’re trying to do with that reference to that versus going back to some of these older texts we see Agrippa saying you must take this into account at all times, and this is sort of the foundation of everything. So does that create a sort of tension in some ways in the modern magical tradition?
EP: It can. However, I’m a big believer in compartmentalizing, things like that. I think that making an astrological election for every single thing you should do, or I think according to those rules isn’t strictly necessary every single time, because some magical systems just it doesn’t matter. Or in things like some Solomonic magic, the election rules are pretty simple by comparison. And I think it’s okay to do that. But in the modern era, one of the issues is that it’s interesting because I see a lot of astrologers not really taking magic very seriously. And then the reverse is true, a lot of occultists don’t take astrology seriously. They see it as too new age and woo-woo for them. And I think that that attitude on both sides is changing a little bit over time. But when I started, it was two strict camps, and I dare not call astrology divination and things like that. But I see that a lot with modern occultists too, they’ll just completely disregard astrology as meaningless. And I think that if you’re doing some sort of a Western magical system, it’s good to at least take that into account a little bit. It doesn’t mean you have to be a skilled astrologer because that’s not realistic, I don’t think, for everybody. Does he require, I mean, or you could pay astrologers to do the elections for you.
CB: Yeah. Well, it’s just interesting the extent to which it’s integrated at least in this author in like high Renaissance. Somebody that’s trying to write this comprehensive work on the philosophy and the practice of magic and the extent to which astrology is very much at the center of it for him. So an example of that is, what would be an example of just some of the things he would take into account from a practical or a technical standpoint if he was trying to make something like a Jupiter talisman or something like that, for example,
EP: The basic idea is that Jupiter would have to be dignified in some way, so in its sign of rulership or exaltation in a notable place in the chart, usually the first or the 10th house. The Moon has to be in reasonably good shape, neither Jupiter or the Moon should be receiving any negative influences from the malefic planets, Saturn or Mars. And he goes a little deeper, which is actually pretty common. I think Picatrix does this too, where he doesn’t want the planets for the operation to be even in the terms of Saturn or Mars, even in certain degrees that are called dark pitted and… Dark pitted and what’s the other one?
CB: Shadowy or something.
EP: I can’t think of a name right now. But there specific degrees each sign that are considered to be malefic. I don’t see a lot of people paying attention to that today, that’s a lot to pay attention to, I think. But the idea is that you’re really optimizing the planets as far as you could possibly take it. And a lot of these books at the time, they throw every single rule possible at you. And that’s another place for argument that astrologers have always had, where they’ll have 30 rules for something and the argument’s whether you do all 30 or the major 10, something like that. It’s like William Lilly’s considerations before judgment type of argument. But that’s a basic idea.
CB: Okay, yeah. And it is tricky with some of the elections, because they are so highly specifics for certain planets or certain types of elections that are like the ideal election that they only occur once in a decade or something like that. It reminds me-
EP: Sometimes a lifetime.
CB: Right, yeah. And so can be much more restrictive in terms of that if you were to always shoot for the ideal version of what it prescribes or the type of election that it prescribes. It reminds me of that famous story about Bonatti that I’ve told a couple times before. And I read it in Holden, and I think he cites Lynn Thorndike or something for it. And it may not be a real story, but at least it was attributed to Bonatti, of this notion of there was a guy that was like down on his luck and broke and Bonatti took pity on him, the famous 13th-century astrologer. And he made him a wax talisman at a certain moment in time that captured the power of a specific planet like Jupiter, some really auspicious alignment. And he made this wax figure for him as a talisman under that alignment and gave it to the person, and the person suddenly grew rich and successful and his life changed, but that he ended up feeling bad. Somehow he was doing something wrong, and this use of magic was against the church or against God or something like that. And he went to a pastor who told him to destroy the talisman. So he smashed it and got rid of it. And then all of a sudden his fortune disappeared, and he panics. And then he goes to Bonatti and asks him to make him another talisman. And Bonatti exclaims, “You fool, that alignment of planets won’t recur for another century, and there’s nothing I can do for you.” And that’s kind of like the end of the story. And I don’t know if that’s actually a real story that happened, but certainly when it comes to certain electional charts and certain auspicious alignments and the notion of capturing those by initiating or creating something at that time that captures the power of that moment, there is something very tangible there that electional astrologers are familiar with in terms of certain things not being able to recreate them and being very spaced out.
EP: Well, and also, especially with house-based talismans. Some of the rules that Agrippa has are probably once in a lifetime configurations, because they’ll say things like you take the ruler of this house and the ruler of this other house, make sure that they’re fortunate, make sure that they’re aspecting the Moon by a particular aspect, make sure that Jupiter and Venus are aspecting those planets by certain aspect and so on and so forth. And those are exceedingly tough to elect for. And I’ve tried a few of them, sometimes you can do tricks because sometimes you can get the two houses they’re talking about being ruled by the same planet if you’re lucky, things like that. But sometimes you’ll never see those configurations again. When you’re talking about Jupiter and Saturn, for instance, I mean, how often are those going to be in specific configurations in your lifetime?
CB: Right. Yeah, that makes sense. So in terms of some of the other things, that’s one of the high magic and high astrology applications that are talked about in that book. But astrology comes up and is sprinkled throughout the book sometimes and becomes more or less the focus in different parts. I know you wrote a list of different sections of the book that talk about astrology, and maybe we could just mention some of those really briefly. Right in the opening, it talks about the elements, then it goes into eventually later in book one, influences and rulerships of planets and signs, the rationale for the planetary rulerships, general things in the world that are ruled by the planets through the Hermetic notion of sympathetic magic, that there are these lists of correspondences between planets and plants and stones and minerals and different things like that.
Let’s see what else. Kinds of places ruled by the planets, colors of the planets, sacred numbers of the planets, there’s also tables and schedules for the planets, basic rules for electional astrology, especially for the Moon, fixed stars and their natures, especially in a magical context. The mansions of the Moon, there’s a major chapter on that, planetary hours, the rationale for using certain materials for astrological magic, different images of the zodiac and their magical uses, the decans and the different images and descriptions for the decans and their magical usages, images for each of the planets and the nodes, images for the mansions of the Moon and the fixed stars, house-based talismans, the symbols for the planets and the zodiac plus a chapter, I really liked that chapter that was combining some of the glyphs. He gives rationales for the glyphs and then he shows that you can actually combine some of the glyphs to create a hybrid symbol, which I thought was actually really cool as a concept. I actually have-
EP: I’ve never seen that before.
CB: I have a picture of that here. I just took a picture of that last night. He’s like culmination of a conjunction especially because he says, “There’s 120 possible conjunctions of the planets and therefore, you can combine the glyphs of the planets in innumerable or in a bunch of different ways.” Like putting together the glyph of Jupiter and Saturn for a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction or to represent that, and then to use that perhaps in an image or in a talisman.
EP: He actually made me think, although he doesn’t say this to have planets and signs, you can probably take this further than what he’s saying.
CB: Yeah, that makes sense. Then finally, he does have this chapter about how no divination is perfect without astrology, which is important philosophically, another on some names and significations of the planets, finding the nature and names of spirits from the nativity, and then finally gifts granted to people by the planets. That’s some major ways or some highlights in which astrology is just woven throughout all three books of this text.
EP: It’s less in the third book because the third book is mostly about talking about the divine and that sort of thing. I always think of this book as building a house where you start at the bottom building a foundation and you just build it up brick by brick. So you have these discreet chapters and the subject matter is just woven throughout the entire book of astrology, the elements, a lot of philosophical ideas such as the world soul. It’s everywhere in the book.
CB: This comes in three books and that’s actually they’re broken up thematically, and each of the three books has a specific focus, right?
EP: Yes, yes. It’s pretty simple. It’s also the three parts according to [unintelligible] that are required for magic to work or to be magic. You have the natural world, which is going to be pretty much everything that we can see, hear, smell, touch, taste here on Earth. And then you have the-
CB: That’s book one?
EP: That’s book one.
CB: The entirety of book one is all about the natural world, especially the different natural properties of things like stones and plants and different things like that.
EP: Right. And how those work together. Also, the elements, since that’s the foundation of matter.
CB: Right. It opens with a very long extended discussion about the nature and the qualities of the four elements of Earth, air, fire, and water.
EP: One of the best write-ups on the elements that I’ve seen. Because a lot of people when they talk about the elements, they basically go through a quick discussion of the natures and just move on. This is a very detailed discussion of the qualities of each of these elements in a very almost poetic way, I think.
CB: You’re right. I was surprised by that because usually, the treatments of the elements are very sparse and it’s hard, especially in some ancient texts, to find extended discussions of them. And I was always frustrated by that in the Hellenistic tradition that many of those didn’t survive. So it was cool to see that take such a central role right at the very beginning of this text as a foundation.
EP: I think it’s important to internalize that because that’s the very nature of astrology. If you break down astrology far enough, it’s really how these elemental combinations are interacting with each other in a lot of ways, and so just internalizing basic material like that is important. I was surprised when I was translating it. I had to think very long and hard about the words that I was going to use because it sounded so abstract but also, like I said, so poetic at the same time. It was amazing.
CB: Yeah. He wrote this in Latin which was the educated language in Europe of the day that allowed people from different countries to communicate and write works on philosophy and science and also the occult with each other, even if their primary language was different between let’s say French and German or Spanish or what have you. How did you learn Latin? Or why do you know Latin?
EP: Well why, it’s because I wanted to read books that I wanted to read. I’m self-taught and I just spent a lot of time… This isn’t my first project. My first project was The Picatrix and when I saw that Christopher Warnock and John Michael Greer were publishing theirs, I stopped. I didn’t feel confident enough about my translation at that time. I look back on it now, it’s actually pretty good. [laughs] But that’s where I started. I essentially learned basic grammar, which in turn teaches you a lot of basic vocabulary, and then I just went through with the dictionaries and logic. And then my knowledge of astrology was like that to sort of piece it together. It took me forever. I’m a slow translator.
CB: Okay. Well, that’s pretty impressive. There’s other people like Ben Dykes for example learned Latin in high school so he knew it by happenstance. But you teaching yourself this because you wanted to be able to read texts like this is really interesting and impressive, and then results in being able to translate pivotal work such as this and have it published.
EP: I wasn’t planning on that. It wasn’t part of my plan for anybody to see it, actually. But people like Christopher Warnock and some of my other friends, Austin was another one who really pushed me to make it public. I didn’t really think anybody would want to read it.
CB: I wanted to ask about that in the publication because you actually ended up finding a pretty major publisher to publish it through and I was really impressed by what a good job they did with the production quality of this text is just pretty amazing. I took some pictures of it. It comes in, it’s these three hardcover books that comes in a really nice slipcase. But just the publication quality, it was published by Inner Traditions, which previously was a publisher that did philosophical works like the Corpus Hermeticum and other things like that. But I know in recent years, they’ve been publishing more astrology titles and things like that, or it seems like they’re heading in that direction.
EP: Yeah, it seems that way. They actually published some Afro-Cuban material which I didn’t realize until after the fact. So they’re definitely branching out and they’ve been amazing to work with. I’m very happy with them.
CB: Yeah, I’m really… Go ahead.
EP: I was just going to say the book also came out, I was pleasantly surprised about the book. I would have been happy with the paperback.
CB: Sure. But no, they actually took it as a really important project it seems like it put a lot of effort into the presentation and the print quality and even the images and the diagrams, it seems like they took and they cleaned up quite a bit in terms of some of the images from the original print or the original manuscripts are presented very cleanly and very nicely in this print version.
EP: Yes. And also, one of the issues I had was I wanted the margin notes to be retained from the original because those have never been in any other addition. From a formatting standpoint, it’s a little strange to do. So I heavily insisted on that, and they did it. Probably more difficult for me than them. But they basically did everything that I wanted and I’m really happy with the editors.
CB: The margin notes, that’s something I remember from William Lily. And what you mean by that is you have the body of the text of the paragraphs, but then on the right side or the left side of the paragraph on the outer edge of the page, there’s little notes almost like in order to tell you what that chapter, what that section is about. Here’s one from chapter 23 and there’s just a little note in the margin on the right of the paragraph that says the circle is the most perfect figure. So it’s like summarizing what that paragraph is about.
EP: Yeah, it’s almost like Renaissance highlighting. That’s the way I look at it.
CB: That reminds me of William Lily’s text where he does that as well about a century later, because this book was published in 1533 and Lily published Christian Astrology in 1647. One thing that I found really fascinating was that the only other English translation of Agrippa’s Three Books was published in 1651 by some anonymous person, we don’t know who it is, JF. We just know the initial is published on the initials JF. But he published that in 1651, which was only four years after William Lily’s book, Christian Astrology came out, which ended up being the single most influential book. It was the first major book on astrology that was written in English, the first major textbook on astrology written in English because Lily made the deliberate decision to write it in English for an English-speaking audience, rather than writing it in Latin so that it could only be read by people that knew Latin in 1647. And then just a few years later, we have this book being translated into English at the time, which is pretty major in terms of also founding centuries of the how that influenced the magical tradition.
EP: That was the only version until recently. Even the Donald Tyson version that everyone has is still that translation.
CB: That’s the one that was published by Llewellyn that’s like a single thick paperback book and it says, by Donald Tyson, but it’s actually just a commentary because he has a lot of footnotes and stuff, but it’s largely just a reprint of that translation from way back in 1651.
EP: He did modernize the English. So he modernized the spellings, he added paragraphs, he run on sentences that they liked to do back then. The JF character is interesting because there’s two opinions. One is that it’s someone named James Freak, who I think it was just noted in some bibliographical material somewhere, but no one knows anything about him. Another opinion is that it’s John French, who was an alchemist. That seems to be the prevailing opinion, but what’s interesting is the astrology is just so butchered in that translation that it makes me question that. I don’t have a good explanation of why he would have made the mistakes that he did.
CB: Great. So part of your analysis and part of your motivation for doing your translation and why you thought it was necessary to retranslate this text and publish a new edition of it as you have in the past few months is that this other translation going back to 1651 that everyone’s using that the translator while he did a passable job, he made a bunch of errors and there’s some things that he misunderstood about Agrippa’s text including a lot some of the technical astrological terms that were used. It was almost as if he wasn’t an astrologer or wasn’t familiar enough with astrology in order to correctly translate some of those concepts into English.
EP: Yeah. Some very common terms back then such as perfections, he consistently translated that as perfection. And then Donald Tyson footnoted that saying, “Okay, well, that’s a conjunction of the Sun and the Moon, a full or new Moon or something like that.” So this isn’t a section where Agrippa is talking about different predictive tools. He talks about solar revolutions, he talks about perfections, but then the footnote is. Also, solar revolution was noted wrong in Tyson as well as meaning just simply someone’s birthday, which technically isn’t correct.
CB: So there were errors in the original 1651 translation and then some of those errors are then exacerbated or in some instances, interpreted in an even worse way in the modern commentary in 1983 that everybody’s using. So a large part of your translation or the advantage of your translation is that you’ve actually studied renaissance and medieval astrology so that you’re familiar with the technical terminology, you’re very familiar with the technical terminology. And therefore, when you go through this text and Agrippa starts throwing out technical terminology that he hasn’t defined, because it’s not primarily an astrological manual, he’s taking for granted that you already understand many of those concepts. You can translate those concepts and interpret them correctly as you render it in English.
EP: Yeah. There was a lot more than I realized before. Things like the names of stones are sometimes suspect of… JF had a habit of translating a lot of stones as a jet stone, which I don’t know why. There was one where it’s supposed to be a ruby and he translated it as jet. Also, someplace where there’s an incense recipe and it’s an obscure word in Latin cenobe and JF translated as jet again, which is an unusual ingredient for incense. I found out later on it was amber, which makes a lot more sense. There’s a lot of things like that. One of the funny ones I thought was, it’s on the chapter on Earth. I know what chapter it is, chapter four or five, something like that. He makes a throwaway statement that Earth is entirely changeable. This is the JF translation. Then Donald Tyson makes a footnote saying, “Well, Agrippa didn’t read his place though properly.” I looked at the Latin, it’s correct. It’s supposed to be unchangeable like Earth would be. There’s a lot of little things like that you wouldn’t necessarily notice if you don’t know the Latin.
CB: Okay, that makes sense. And then also, in doing this translation, you’re actually able to take advantage of the fact that there was a critical edition of the Latin texts of Agrippa that was published in 1992 or 1993, right?
EP: I think it was ’91 or ’92. It was before Tyson came out with this.
CB: Okay. So this was done by an academic scholar who specialized in Agrippa’s work and specialized in the study of Renaissance texts and things like that as well as editing and comparing of manuscripts and actually went through the different editions and reconstructed what the original text was, but then also did a lot of work identifying the sources that Agrippa drew on in different parts of his text, right?
EP: Yes. And that got me started. Because of the internet, I was able to get access to a lot of these books, the exact conditions that Agrippa probably had in a lot of cases. The critical edition, first of all, I think it’s interesting because The Three Books was always printed, except for the original manuscript in 1510. A lot of people assume that there wouldn’t be that many variations considering that all the type was set by hand. There were a lot of variations also with the graphics because all those were redone by hand every single time.
And so, it got me started. When I was able to get access to the books themselves, I actually made changes from the critical edition as well because I just found things that now they’re really easily available. I also found a couple of errors in the critical editions because I was comparing it with the 1533 and the 1550 version as well editions. I cross-compared those two editions with JF, with Tyson. So I compared all those texts at the same time.
CB: Right. One of the things I thought was really interesting in one of your conclusions was that this text that he’s constantly drawing on different ancient or contemporary texts throughout the entirety of The Three Books of Occult Philosophy so that Agrippa in some ways represents a compilation and a synthesis of a bunch of different philosophical and occult works that existed up to that point while some people have assumed that he had access to like secret texts because of possibly being involved in some secret society in Paris. In fact, one of the things that you pointed out was he was basically just drawing on a lot of works that were available at that point in time in the 16th century.
EP: Yes. I do think that secret group, the little secret society that he was part of, I think that was of help because there are certain things like I don’t think he had a copy of Picatrix, for instance.
CB: Even though he seems to draw on it heavily in some places?
EP: To me this is my opinion, but I feel like that those were from notes. So maybe someone that he knew had access to it or he was able to see a copy of it. Because there aren’t a lot of just one to one quotes from Picatrix. There’s a lot of mixing quotes from Picatrix with other books as well to flesh it out more, and it’s very specific sections. He doesn’t use Picatrix’s material on elections, for instance, at all. It’s only the decans, mentions of the Moon, and then a couple of just throw away sentences that actually aren’t even astrology, which surprised me. So that one I think was notes. I think there were a few that were like that. But for the most part, these were books that were easily available during the Renaissance Ficino, Johannes Reuchlin, people like that. That’s the majority of the book. Pico della Mirandola is another one. He almost quotes half the book in there.
CB: Right. That’s one of the things that’s cool and useful about your translation is in the footnotes every time he is drawing on sentences from some earlier text that can be identified and, in that way, you’re able to demonstrate as you’re reading through the book just how much he’s taking or incorporating sentences or entire paragraphs from different sources and then fusing them together in his own text.
EP: What’s even more interesting is certain sentences are made up of many, many quotes, which is crazy to me. I can’t imagine writing a book that way. Not only that immoral way, but those of us with a lot of books, imagine taking your library and doing nothing but taking quotes from books that you have and then formulating your own argument with those quotes.
CB: Yeah, it actually makes sense to me because one of the things that this book really reminded me of was Manly Palmer Hall and his book the Secret Teachings of All Ages, which was written in the 1920s and he was only in his 20s. He was like 22 or 23 or something.
EP: He was in early mid 20s for sure.
CB: Yeah. So Manly Palmer Hall, this is in the early 20th century, but he was super young and he wrote this huge compilation of information of everything he was able to find from earlier culture traditions that were available to him at that point as a huge compilation. But he was super young at that point. This book, The Three books of Occult Philosophy, Agrippa was only 24 when he wrote the first version of this in 1510, right?
EP: Right. It was a little bit smaller than we have today. The order of the chapters were different, but it was recognizable for sure.
CB: Yeah. So even though he was then 23-24 years before he eventually published the final version in 1533 and then he died sadly two years after that, two years later only in his late 40s, the fact that he wrote so much of the core of the text which would still largely be the same as the final version when he was only 24 in 1510, it makes me think of that and just makes me think of me being in my 20s writing Wikipedia entries based on all the text that I had been reading going in college and going to Kepler College and also reading translations from Project Hindsight. And so much of what you do at an earlier stage of your learning is just synthesizing and trying to work out all of the information of your teachers and your immediate sources and there’s this impulse to want to write everything down that you’re learning and get it all in a certain frame of reference that makes sense, almost like your study notes in some sense. That’s still a task. It’s not necessarily a negative thing. I just recognize that as a thing that sometimes certain students will do at certain stages.
EP: It’s pretty bold for him to do that because he’s essentially bucking against not just people like Ficino, but he’s bucking against the church. Agrippa really was that he knew a lot of powerful people. We don’t know a lot about the secret organization and how much influence they would have had on him. He was the young person in the group too. There were older people who put Agrippa in the central position in that group. In a lot of ways, he was the person to members of the group. So it’s interesting that this 20 something-year-old, I don’t know when he started, the group, was in some ways being looked up to by people in their 40s and their 50s. We don’t know to what degree that group influenced the material on Three Books. But the fact that he was able just to do that, and it’s coherent. It doesn’t feel fragmented or incomplete or anything like that. It’s remarkable.
CB: Yeah. He was a polymath and was an educated, talented scholar, but he wore also many different hats, right?
EP: He did. Well, like a lot of educated people that time he was a doctor. But he worked for a lot of kings and noble people. He did medicine. He did tutoring. He was a secret agent allegedly. He was a general I believe for one of the kings or lords. So he was definitely respected as a scholar at the time and there was an entry in the dictionary on Western Esoterica, the one edited by Hanegraaff. But the entry on Agrippa says that it’s a shame that he’s only known for Three Books of Occult Philosophy because if he had never written that book, he would have been probably respected by academia as a great scholar. He’s [inaudible] in academia.
CB: He wrote other books and other works that were semi-important or influential, especially later in his life, a book on skepticism.
EP: On skepticism, and that one’s notable because of the famous retraction. But what a lot of people don’t realize is he also wrote a book on also proto feminism. By today’s standards, probably not very feminist but back then, it was an important thing because he was exalting the central importance of women in a way that most scholars and texts at the time just would not have touched that subject whatsoever, and they didn’t take it very kindly either. But it’s amazing he was able to do what he did. He exonerated a woman being accused of witchcraft by exposing corruption in the system. And all these things did not make him very popular, but the fact that he was going in that direction is immensely important and overlooked I think because people just know him as this writer of an occult book, but he was very forward-thinking for the time.
CB: Yeah. And the doctor thing and the polymath or man of different hats thing as well as an educated scholar reminds me of somebody who would have been as contemporary which is Nostradamus who was a French physician, but also astrologer and had access to many different texts he was reading and sort of polymath who did many different things.
EP: Yeah, exactly. Or someone like Ficino. Except Ficino was more church-based, but yeah, he’s a remarkable figure. I mean, he’s sort of the prototype of [unintelligible] is sort of based on him a lot.
CB: Let me share… Why don’t we talk a little bit more about his life. I did find birth data for him. I don’t know how reliable this is. Holden gave it, and there was a source in my notes which said that it’s dirty data, but that somebody quotes Gadbury, John Gadbury, for part of it. And so the date may be correct, time may or may not be correct, but for whatever it’s worth, what we’ve got is September 14th, 1486 at 3:24 AM in Cologne, Germany, with early Virgo rising, Mars up in Gemini in the tenth house, which you remarked about and laughed at yesterday when we first looked at this, because he had some rough times in terms of his career and getting himself into trouble at different points throughout the course of his life. The Sun is at 29 degrees of Virgo. And interestingly, if this is accurate, he was born just after a full Moon. The Moon had just moved into Aries. There had just been a full Moon in Pisces, but the Moon was in the Aries, Saturn in Sagittarius, Jupiter in Capricorn, Mercury in Libra and Venus in Leo and the degree of the Midheaven in late Taurus. So he was interested and had all these different intellectual interests, but because of his interests in both the occult, as well as theology and scholarship, it sounded like he kept getting into trouble due to some of this throughout the course of his life, right?
EP: Several times. My thought about him is that I think we all know this person or we might be this person who is probably thinking correctly about things, but doesn’t understand why other people don’t believe the same thing. And so he would voice his opinions a lot, and he would just put himself in hot water a lot. The example with the witch trial’s a good example, because in his mind, I’m sure he was thinking, “Okay, well, I’m exposing corruption and they’re accusing this woman who is innocent. So people are going to thank me for exposing the situation.” And then he ended up getting thrown out of town. And that happened over and over again. For his defense women, this happened about two or three times in his life. He was reported to the inquisition, and then they would do this investigation in secret behind his back. And in some cases, he wouldn’t know what’s going on. And other times he would just be far away while they’re investigating him. And then he would’ve to defend himself after the fact through letters. So it is just this ongoing pattern of people just not liking his ideas. Ironically, he wasn’t really attacked for his occult practice until late in his life, while it was in production. Because copies had been leaking out for a while. That’s actually the reason why he did this version of it was because somehow a copy of the manuscript or an early draft of it leaked out and people were talking about it. And so Agrippa took control of it and he said, “Okay, I’m going to do this my way. And if I’m going to be accused of my sins, at least let them be my own sins.” I think he died, this is speculation, but he was put in jail for debts that he owed, and he died after being released as a result of probably a weakened system.
CB: Okay. So yeah, so even though he originally wrote the initial version of the book in 1510, that version leaked out and he went on to have like a long career doing other stuff, including, I’m not sure what year that was, it was like in the 1520s, he wrote that skeptical work which criticized many different fields of knowledge. And then it wasn’t until 1533 that he finally publishes. He goes back to this book, finishes it, and publishes it. But there’s some debate at that point about whether he was still a practicing occultist and whether he believed in all of that, because he had written the skeptical work several years earlier and also because in the final version of this book, he seems to almost express some skepticism about it saying I think at the end that he wrote it when he was a younger man and his thought had matured or something like that. So there’s some debate today about the extent to which the final publication towards the end of his life represented his actual views or whether he was just doing it in order to, like you said, get a handle on it because the earlier manuscripts that had errors had already leaked out, and so he wanted to fix the errors in his original writings.
EP: Yeah, that was one part of it. The book that you’re describing has his famous retraction. And a lot of people sort of take this out of context. We don’t know, can never know what he was thinking of course. But the book that this came from, it was called The Vanity of the Arts and Sciences. And they basically had chapters on every area of human learning. And the basic theme of the book is to show how human knowledge is actually quite frail and incomplete compared to God, for instance. And so that retraction is part of that. But when you think about this is a little bit of in Three Books too, where Agrippa’s putting a primal emphasis on anything that’s related to God directly. So the magic that we do has to relate to God, and the knowledge that we do has to relate to God. And as long as we keep God in that central position, then we’re not going to veer too far off course. And so he was kind of lampooning scholars and church people who just really thought that they were the end all be all of knowledge. So that’s where that retraction came from, but keeping in mind that he was most likely revising Three Books while that was happening, while he was writing that.
CB: Okay. So the fact that he was still like working on this occult book and getting ready to publish it, for you, you take that to mean that it’s more likely that you think that he still did have some belief and investment in this, and that’s why he eventually did go on to actually publish this work towards the end of his life.
EP: Yeah, it was definitely to save his reputation a little bit. I think he wanted to have that sort of final stamp on things. But from what I’m gathering from the 1510 manuscript, is the final version is a lot more nuanced. And so I think a lot of years have passed, and there were also some books that were published during the interim, which I think changed him a lot. Two of those are Reuchlin’s On the Art of the Kabbalah, and another one is not a very well known book today, it’s by Francesco Giorgio called De Harmonia Mundi or The Harmony of the World. And that book is physically larger than Three Books, it’s an immense book. But Giorgio was a Kabbalist, a Christian Kabbalist. And he attempted to do some of what Agrippa was doing to have this kind of overarching worldview with all the esoteric world. But it wasn’t quite as esoteric as by our standards as Agrippa would be. He kind of stays away from what we would call magic today. He goes into a lot of astrology, he goes into Kabbalah and that kind of a thing, but a lot of Agrippa’s astrological material and a lot of his material on Kabbalah ironically came from that book of all places.
CB: Yeah. So that brings up something that’s really important that is a major factor in this book, especially I think in the third book, which he incorporates a lot of Kabbalistic and a lot of Kabbalah into his work and into some of the magical stuff. And this ended up playing a major role in terms of bringing some of that stream more into Western occultism and sort of permanently imprinting some of the Kabbalah on Western occultism from that point forward.
EP: Yeah. And what’s fascinating about that is that Christian Kabbalah was mostly formulated by Pico, who was a student of Ficino’s. And Pico was young, Pico Mirandola.
CB: Yeah, who famously wrote like one of the largest and supposedly most scathing attacks on astrology ever to be written, I guess, either contemporaneous or a few decades before this.
EP: It’s a little bit before. And I can believe he was, yeah, Agrippa would’ve been a child probably when he died. But Pico, he died young, he was in his thirties. He was one of the early people who believed like Agrippa there was this overarching oneness to all of knowledge. And so he attempted to bring in Kabbalah with astrology, Western esoterism, and he started that whole chain. And then Johann Reuchlin picked up where he left off. And that was hugely influential to Agrippa. But Agrippa would not have, I don’t think, realized the youth of the Christian Kabbalistic movements. I think he believed that it probably went back thousands of years to him. It was only less than 50 years old probably.
CB: Right. But because of, I guess, the Christian context of him being in Europe and the historical belief in the historicity of the Bible narrative, the notion that Hebrew and the Hebrew letters were like the oldest and that other languages were subsequently derived from that, it seems like for that reason, he places Hebrew letters as being super central and important in a magical context due to the magical properties of both letters, as well as numbers.
EP: Yeah. So the magical properties of the letters, the words constructed from those letters, even the construction of the alphabet itself has a magical component to it because according to him, they were constructed via celestial motions and have a numerical component to it as well. So it’s not just random, this is going to be the letter A, he believed that there was a greater philosophical meaning behind the forms of the letters themselves. So it goes as deep as that, not just what we think it was just regular Kabbalistic thought.
CB: Okay. Yeah, so that’s really important. There’s also some Pythagorean numerology that plays an important role at different points. And there’s this whole extended section in one of the books where he goes through each of the basic numbers and talks about this symbolic and occult or metaphysical meaning of each of these numbers starting with the number one and then the number two and then three and so on and so forth.
EP: Yes. And that’s one of those areas of the book that there’s some tables for each of the numbers that summarizes all of this material. And not all of the elements in those tables are mentioned in those chapters. Since I have a PDF of my book, I can search for things really easily. And so it’s interesting because I’ve had some people ask me where such and such in the table comes from, and I was able to Google it and I found out, “Oh, it’s mentioned in book three somewhere, nowhere else.” So those tables are actually very interesting. It’s a really good summary.
CB: Okay. And you guys tried to reproduce the images and the symbols and glyphs used in the original manuscripts as faithfully as possible. And it seems I did a really good job in terms of that. So for those watching the video version, this is an image you sent me from one of the actual manuscripts of some symbols or sigils used for certain fixed stars like The Pleiades or Aldebaran. And then what it looks like, I guess, this is from your actual text, right? Yeah, and then other symbols for different things like the planets.
EP: These are the geomantic symbols. These are supposed to be constructed from connecting the dots of the geomantic signs.
CB: Okay. And then there’s other illustrations like images of like a human being and the symmetry involved in the human body, different symbols for Jupiter, so this is symbols for Jupiter.
EP: Correct. And I didn’t include it in the graphics because the layout is a bit strange, but I also found that the sigils for, a couple of the sigils for Mercury and the Moon were flipped around in the JF version.
CB: Okay. So is that one of the ones, for example, that you were talking about with the supposed talisman that was found on Joseph Smith having like an error on it comes from some of the things like that.
EP: Yeah. So specifically the Jupiter. So the intelligence of Jupiter that’s on the screen, there’s a gap in the top loop that’s only in specific editions. And that was just basically recreated, which I think is something that happens in magical books. Some little oops by a scribe gets reproduced.
CB: Right. And so some of these, for the planets, for example, are tables that give different numerical values at different points in the table. And these are supposed to be inscribed on the talismans or the images.
EP: That’s one use. That’s also how the sigils were constructed.
EP: It’s a relation with the letters and the numbers. So when you construct it in a certain way, you’d have a name of a particular [unintelligible] spirit.
CB: Okay, another symbol, and then here’s the cover.
EP: Not my pencil.
CB: No, okay. Yeah, the library copies always have that. So let’s see other things that we meant to talk about about this work or things that make it unique or important in terms of, especially in astrological context and for astrologers. He drew a lot on the work of Marsilio Ficino it looked like, who was of course the famous translator of the Corpus Hermeticum, as well as the works of Plato, but Marsilio Ficino was also super into sympathetic magic and using electional astrology for different things, right?
EP: Yes, and Ficino had a much more narrow focus compared to Agrippa because Ficino was kind of anti-magic in a lot of ways except for astrological magic. That was okay, because that obviously has a divine influence. But Agrippa had a wider definition, which I think was to our benefit that he was able to widen that meaning a bit or focus. But yeah, Ficino, he definitely was influenced by the Picatrix. And he was probably the most major source, I think, widely read source for astrological magic. Because Picatrix was never printed, it was only in manuscripts. But Ficino was much more popular. He quoted directly from Picatrix quite a bit.
CB: Got it. And then there was another author I know in some of the specific electional rules for making certain types of astrological images that Agrippa gives. You said a lot of that is sort of word for word copied from an earlier Arabic author from the eighth or ninth century.
EP: Right. Thabit Ibn Qurra. And that was in Latin. It was translated to Latin by somebody. And I didn’t realize that book was so, I guess… I don’t know if popular is the right word, but I didn’t realize it was that available. But Agrippa almost quoted the whole book.
CB: Yeah, because it’s just a little short book. It actually survives. I think Christopher Warnock published a translation of it, right?
EP: He did. In fact, John Michael Greer did… I think there’s early translation, and then John Michael Greer did another version and he put them both in the same book and it’s still pretty small.
CB: Okay, yeah. So that gets incorporated into Agrippa’s work. I think it’s also incorporated into the Picatrix. So it’s interesting how some of the same works keep getting brought back and incorporated into different compilations or reincorporated at different points.
EP: Yeah, the famous Hermes on the 15 stars, herb, stones, etc. That’s in Picatrix, it’s in Ficino, and it’s in Agrippa. It’s pretty much everywhere.
CB: Okay. Are there any other major sources astrologically that are relevant in terms of… I mean, I know at some point he starts mentioning certain things like reception and he’s talking about the conjunction being the most powerful aspect, but then the trine being next and being really positive, but if you have like a trine with reception, then it becomes as powerful as a conjunction, which I thought was really, really interesting.
EP: That is interesting. And I think that what was a little bit of a surprise to me was I thought there would be Bonatti somewhere in there, because Bonatti is so ubiquitous. But there’s no Bonatti. And so astrology comes from Ficino, a couple of books by Al-Kindi, which were popular in Latin and Ibn Qurra and that book Harmonia Mundi. But he didn’t have a lot of other sources, which I really expected to see that in there. The work on the sigils is from… It’s one of the only books I wasn’t able to get a copy of. It’s in a manuscript in England. That’s a very obscure book.
CB: I think Ibn Ezra is mentioned at one point and also Leopold of Austria.
EP: Yes, I forgot about him. Yeah, so the work on the decans, and I think the mentions of the Moon are a combination of Picatrix, Leopold, and Johann Angelus. Yeah, there’s that too. But there isn’t like this huge wide… I expected more grimoires too and there were no grimoires as we would think of it. So it’s interesting how he extracted that material. None of the election rules come from Picatrix, which I expected there to be. That comes from other sources, mostly Ficino. I think I said direct.
CB: So part of the reason this is important to bring it back to the present is that this is one of the works that when some early practitioners started getting into traditional astrological magic, for example, in the late nineties or early two thousands like Christopher Warnock, this would’ve been one of the only works that was available to them that gave them some of these magical electional rules through that English translation from the 17th century. And then it’s only over the course of the past decade or two since that time that we’ve then subsequently had translations of some of the source texts that Agrippa was drawing on like the Picatrix or some of the different astrological texts. But this was initially one of the only things that was available, but it was in that flawed translation. And now we finally have an authoritative translation that correctly expresses the authentic original work of Agrippa.
EP: Yeah. I tried to be very, very careful about the translation. I kept the sentence structures. I had to break up the sentences later on because it would be unreadable, but I tried to keep things very one to one translation-wise. I tried not to become too poetic and I didn’t go outside the lines. And if there was something I wasn’t sure about, I would footnote it with the Latin. So that way, if someone questions it, at least they can look it up themselves. There are some very enticing things that I would love to learn the identity of, especially some of the plants that seem to be unknown. But yeah, I tried to be very, very methodical about it. And the astrological sections were pretty easy to translate.
CB: Right, because he was drawing on sometimes very old works like the work of Pliny from the first century for some of the plants and stones. And our knowledge even of which plants and stones that’s referring to in the original Latin text of Pliny are still ambiguous or unknown to this day.
EP: And I don’t think Agrippa would’ve known some of them. I think he was just copying some of these things.
CB: Sure. Let’s see. One other thing I wanted to ask you about is sometimes I thought it was interesting, I was curious what terms you were translating because there’s some terms that as an astrologer or somebody only familiar with astrological texts, I’m not familiar with because you don’t see them in purely astrological texts, but they are common texts in magic or terms used in magic, like the word operations that you’re translating as operations and other words like binding, what are the Latin terms that you’re translating for those two words?
EP: Operation is almost the same and it’s like operatio, which means work. I loved operation because it’s common in a lot of magical text because it sort of implies, I don’t know, like you’re compiling a lot of different elements together for a certain result. And binding, [alligatio], tying, but I use binding because that’s the common word that people would use. And so that’s a very common magical practice where essentially you’re tying together physically or through some other means two things together. So, for instance, love spell. You would bind a representation of one person with a representation of another person, literally tying in cases like that. But you could bind your will with something else too. There’s a lot of different uses for it. But in Agrippa, it’s pretty literal. It’s actually literally tying things together. He quotes some verses with that tying yellow thread a certain number of times around something for a certain goddess, for instance. But it’s to combine two different elements together or forces or whatever you want to say.
CB: And in some of the astrological elections and versions of that, you’re creating a talisman or you’re creating an electional chart. And then they’re sometimes creating like two different electional charts and images of those and then combining them together if you’re trying to bind those two things.
EP: Correct. That’s one thing you can do as well. Some of these aren’t explicitly astrological, but some of them can be astrological. You can make it astrological.
CB: Right, okay. Are there any other terms like that that are terms that maybe somebody familiar with astrology who’s picking up this book for the first time may not know, but somebody that’s familiar with magic would be familiar with or were you translating it using terms that are understood by practitioners of magic?
EP: I try to footnote a lot of these terms. Bindings I didn’t footnote because he describes it pretty detailed. But one of the words like allegation is one word, which is something you hang around your neck. Another one is [unintelligible] which is like a magical protection like a shield or something like that. It’s a lot of little things like that, but I footnote that kind of thing.
CB: I wonder how much… I mean, Lilly kind of established our conventions for a lot of conventions for English and astrology. And I wonder to what extent the JF translation of Agrippa in 1651 established a lot of the conventions then that became common or used in English in magical circles after that point.
EP: That’s a good point. I didn’t think about that.
CB: Yeah, just thinking about some of these terms like operation or binding or what have you.
EP: Yeah. And also this is coming at a time too when there’s also a lot of alchemical material coming out in English too. And some other explicitly magical things like the discovery of witchcraft is a famous one. That was all happening at this time. I think Lilly is one of the earlier ones though. He was a bit of a trailblazer
CB: 1647. Another thing connected with some of this is he talks about a section about paying attention to omens at the beginning of your magical operation, as well as chapters on this connected on auguries and just blending different types of divination. And he has discussions about a bunch of different types of divination.
EP: Yeah. That’s fascinating. That’s something that’s kind of a lost art. A lot of people don’t do this. So it’s observing essentially nature when you’re about ready to do something. So if something unusual happens like a bird hits the window or something like that, you would pay attention to that. Or you’re outside and you see the birds flying in a certain direction or you see a particular animal walking across your path, that could be good or bad. If you’re out on the woods and you suddenly seed a pig, that might mean something because pigs aren’t usually there. So it’s paying attention to things like that. He does talk a little bit about the reading of entrails, which has fallen out of favor quite a bit nowadays. But he talks about that as well. And that the Roman priest would’ve also paid attention as they’re doing reading the entrails, they would pay attention to any notable things like birds or something like that that was in the area.
CB: Yeah. The flight of birds was a huge… Augury was a major source type of divination, it was used in the Roman empire.
EP: Yes, and that chapter’s a very confusing one because it’s sourced directly word for word from Michael Scotus. And the terminology he gives for each augury is very confusing. I don’t even know what language comes from, it’s not Latin. And he does something where he says there’s… I don’t remember the number. I think it was 24. I think it was 12 on the left and 12 on the right. If you have 12 things of birds coming from the left and 12 things of birds coming from the right and then he lists them all out and they don’t match. There’s things missing in it. I think the original source got confused and then Agrippa just wrote it all up. It’s a very confusing chapter. But he does talk about things like if you see a bird coming towards you from the left, that means X or you see a bird going away from you from the left means Y, that kind of thing.
CB: Okay. So all of this just goes back to omenology and omenology playing a much more important role in the ancient world going back to ancient, ancient times, not just in the Roman Empire, but also in earlier traditions in Mesopotamia and in India, they still have some of these traditions that survived to this day for example in the certain forms of the Prashna or the horary tradition of when somebody comes to the astrologer and asks a question, the astrologer paying attention to not just the chart and the alignment of the planets the moment the question is asked, under the premise that the alignment of the planets will show not just the nature of the question but also the outcome or the answer. But the astrologer is also supposed to pay attention to anything that’s happening in the environment around them at that time because it also might be sending signs or omens of something important in terms of information that’s important to know that can help you to understand what’s going to happen or what the future brings.
Here I think Agrippa at one point, for example, gives an example of if you’re about to do a magical operation and a mouse starts eating at your robe or something like that to immediately cease what you’re doing because it’s a negative omen that the outcome will not be good.
EP: Yes. I think we probably did that anyway. That’s actually almost literally happened when I was younger with my original teacher. He taught that sort of thing. We’re doing a ceremony and a rat had got in somehow and he read that as there being someone who was working against him or us or whatever. He looked at that as an omen. So that’s something that I’ve actually seen being done, but a lot of people don’t pay attention to it. But again, in the astrological world, that’s not really part of what people tend to really do. But I’m interested to see if people start paying attention to things like that more now.
CB: Yeah. It’s something that’s fallen out of the tradition because of the divorce of astrology from maybe some of its origins and roots in divination like Geoffrey Cornelius argues, and because in order to survive Christianity after the fall of the Roman Empire, astrology had to reframe itself as a natural science of the planets zapping us through celestial rays versus that earlier understanding of astrology partially being a form of divination like tarot or the I Ching or other things like that that sends messages to humans through signs and symbolism and symbology. So it may have fallen out partially due to that reason, but you still see echoes of it in some of the earlier authors like Firmicus Maternus, I think he’s got some interpretations for like if there’s a storm or there’s a lightning strike at the moment that a person is born, then it means this. And so, there’s still little traces of some of that omenology there and some of the early source texts.
EP: Yeah. It’d be interesting to see that because really the problem is that, like I said earlier, people today they compartmentalize things a lot. They specialize in things a little bit too much. And really, I think that if you’re doing astrology and you believe the astrology works, it’s not really a huge stretch to see that that… I think most astrologers believe that astrology influences everything on Earth, but then to take that for its limits and say, “Okay, well, what’s happening right now? Or what can we do with this information for the future kind of a thing?”
One of the examples I think of for my Afro-Cuban side of things is, we have a divination and there are certain signs that come up in the divination that actually warn you that if something happens during… There’s one sign that says that if you hear something outside while this reading is going on like an accident or a strange sound or something like that, not to investigate it. And so, it’s a very fascinating idea to me that yes, we’re doing the astrology. We think of these readings as being this, I don’t want to say clinical, but a isolated entity and to think that more holistically in this magical worldview that it’s actually part of.
I would love to see more of that. I think it’s happening more than it used to. I noticed I think a lot of younger people coming into astrology aren’t necessarily as constrained as some of the older people were about their approaches because there’s just so much available now. I think that with a lot of younger people, it feels like more of a given that that astrology is part of this bigger world. But I hope to see more of that.
CB: Yeah, for sure. That makes sense. There’s so much there that’s interesting to explore, and that takes us back to something that I think almost all cultures share in common around the world no matter where that is, which is that almost every culture developed some form of divination. There’s some notion that through seemingly random or chance like phenomenon like the shuffling of cards or the throwing of coins, or dice, or what have you that it can actually send pertinent messages in describing the nature of what’s happening in that moment and telling you something about what’s coming up in the future. The fact that that’s shared in common among so many cultures is really interesting and it ties into astrology because originally, astrology was one of the later forms of divination that developed where you would look at what was happening and the movement of the planets and stars was seen as a little bit more random like the shuffling of cards, but that it could convey things about what was happening in the moment as well as what was coming up in the future.
EP: Yeah. I love how things are going because I feel like that when I started with… Both of us we started around the same time, I think. When we started studying astrology is just you get these camps that never crossed their boundaries. Astrology to some extent is still isn’t taken very seriously by a lot of occultists, but the two worlds are starting to converge a little bit more. I’m noticing more in the last maybe 10 years it’s blending that magical thinking with the astrology. I think about that one episode you did with Levine where the power went out as soon as you’re-
CB: The Uranus episode, yeah.
EP: The Uranus episode. Things like that happen. Audio problems with this one, I’m not sure.
CB: Well, and just going back to that notion of astrology that the moment of the inception of something at the alignment of the planets at that moment has something special to say about the quality of what you’re starting at that time and its future and that you can read that through the symbolism of the planets and the stars and the alignment of the cosmos at that moment. And just the basic premise that for some reason, the outcome of something is built into its origins and that the origin or seed moment of something when you start something carries that potential so that it’s not just paying attention to the stars and planets at that moment, but anything happening in your environment that really takes us back to very early omenology in ancient cultures and the universality of that of different cultures around the world. I think Heinrich said it getting to something that’s very deep and profound and important about something that’s a basic property of the cosmos that maybe isn’t well understood or articulated at this point.
But here in Agrippa, we see how he’s tying together all of these different threads of all of these different philosophical and religious and occult and divinity practices and showing how all of those different pieces are at least attempting to show how all those different pieces can fit together in the model of the cosmos that he had at the time. And in that way, this work represents one of the best attempts at that, that anyone’s made in history because of its attempt to bring everything together under one banner and in one set of books.
EP: Yeah. I think one of the things this book did for me was, one of the oldest arguments in astrology is how does how does astrology work? In the modern era, we get a lot of things like maybe its magnetism, maybe it’s gravity, maybe it’s light, maybe it’s these quantum physics or something like that. But as I was doing this book, I started thinking to myself. I was like, “Well what if it’s just magic? What if it’s spirits?” The little revelation I had when I was translating one of the sections where he was talking about the daimons, the demon, the spirits. The personal demons or daimons of each individual. Agrippa says there are basically three kinds. You have one of the nativity one of, I came up with a second one and then one is of profession. He singles out profession and him quoting Iamblichus singles out the demon of profession.
And a little light bulb went off my head, I’m like, “Well, when we’re doing an astrological chart, we’re identifying a planet that signifies profession.” That’s what it’s talking about that sort of thinking. And how that can apply to the rest of the chart. This is just an alternate view of looking at it. Maybe it’s not literally Mars the planet making you a fire man. Maybe it’s that spiritual component that predisposes you to accept that professional so it’s a martial type of nature that just comes out.
It’s a very interesting way to approach astrology itself or natal astrology. Getting away from thinking of these physical bodies versus a spiritual body is an interesting little shift in thinking, I think.
CB: Right. And that’s a large part of the third book where he focuses on the notion of different spirits and working with the identification of those. He has like a few different rationales for astrology throughout the books that are basically a synthesis of different rationales that were present and prevalent during his time period. One of those is the notion of planetary rays going back to Al-Kindi. Then there’s another that seems to be more hermetic about the hermetic correspondence between celestial things and earthly things or a mirroring between the macrocosm and the microcosm. He describes like a few different things at different points.
EP: Yeah. They actually do go together when you think about it because if you’re taking this type of thinking to its logical conclusion, the planets are bodies. And if the planets are bodies just like we are bodies, we have a physical component and we have a spiritual component. They’re both acting in their own way so the spiritual rays, that goes back to Greek optical theory about your eyes emitting rays, and so you think about the physical bodies of the planets emitting these rays through their proverbial eyes, I guess. But with also having this spiritual component which is also moving according to the body and spiritual component of the universe itself, the world soul, which goes back to Timaeus about the universe being a body or an animal.
CB: Right. That seems like a really important component that he mentions constantly was the Platonic notion of the world soul and the idea that just like the human individual has a body that is a physical being, but also as a soul that’s infused throughout the body and the enemy, it’s the body and direct said that the entire cosmos itself is a living being that has a body which is like the physical world that we see and perceive with our senses, but it also has a soul that’s infused throughout and then connects different parts of the cosmos. And that seems to be one of the most core central philosophical concepts that he mentions and brings up over and over again throughout the entirety of the Three Books.
EP: Yes, I think it takes it out of a mechanistic approach because I know myself included, it’s pretty popular to think of astrology as being like a clock with all these gears and everything running, which could still be true in a way, but you have this mental component to it because just like with people, you see the person they’re acting the way they act and they move the way they move, but what we’re perceiving is only a small portion of what that person is. There’s an invisible deeper person within them.
So when you’re working with astrology, you’re actually working with that deeper almost invisible component of the of the planets and stars, which is being informed by their connection with the world soul, which is being informed by its connection with ultimately the creator or the first cause. Agrippa talks a lot about the Jung’s, this golden chain of influences, which is a really nice I think visual device. One of my favorite chapters, he talks about the three parts of the human soul, which are mind, reason, and something that he calls edom, which I had to leave untranslated, which is like the most physical component of the soul. This chain works off these correspondences where the edom is on the bottom, that’s the feet, so to speak. Then you have reason, and then you have the mind at the top. And the mind of your human soul connects with the feet, so to speak, of the soul of the levels above you, so probably the planets. Then they just had this whole interlinking chains of connections. They go all the way up to the top. It’s a fascinating visual device to me to think of it that way.
Ultimately, the Three Books is a very long description of that, of this chain of correspondence. I think if you think of this… I’m not saying that people have to be Catholic or Christian, I’m certainly not. But if you think in terms of this ultimate source for things, whatever that source is, and having that just filtered down layer by layer by layer by layer, even if it’s not literally true, we know that there are other galaxies and solar systems, there are millions of these. But if you think of this just visually and poetically, it’s a very powerful idea. And it’s what you just did, you’re using your imagination. Our imagination is degraded now. As a term we think of imagination is not having any kind of reality to it. In the ancient world, your imagination is what makes you act and that’s the animating force behind magic.
And applying that to the astrology is something I don’t hear very much. There’s this almost like a medium mystic component to astrology that isn’t really acknowledged by a lot of people. We tend to think of things as rules and techniques and you follow this and you start speaking. I think every astrologer has had that experience where you say something, you don’t know exactly where it came from. That’s a key from the astrology, but you took that somewhere special. That’s the thing I think Agrippa is talking about and that’s the place that I want to get to more consistently.
CB: Yeah, that makes sense. And then one last thing you just mentioned that made me think of something else to bring up which is something that talks about different points or seems to talk about is magic as the manifestation of the will or I don’t know if that’s implicit in just the basic premise of magic in the way that a lot of it’s being used or conceptualized here. And something he does mention explicitly, which I almost feel like he’s drawing on the Picatrix or similar lines of thought, but the necessity of belief and actually believing that what you’re doing in some of these magical operations will work or that it can change or affect your will in some way, that that’s like a prerequisite to it actually working and you being successful. Versus if you’re somehow skeptical or doubting that this is actually a legitimate thing that that in and of itself will hamper your ability to actualize your will at that point in time.
EP: Yeah. At its simplest, magic according to Agrippa works by employing all three of the worlds so basically all Three Books, so the natural world, celestial world, and divine world. The celestial world’s a little complicated because I don’t think it always means astrology specifically because it also includes a number and alphabets and things like that. So there’s a little bit more to it than just astrology. You’re playing all three of those worlds. But the thing that makes all three of those worlds become magical is the practitioner.
It’s the same thing with astrology. When you’re doing your reading, the stars are just doing what they do or the planets are doing what they do. But when you’re doing your reading, you’re making a different package out of that to make it understandable to someone. And so, the belief part of it is the active agent in the magic, so it’s the practitioner. If you don’t believe in it, you… Well, I think from a mundane standpoint, you really can’t do anything unless you believe in what you’re doing. You can’t really cook unless you believe you can cook. Even if there might be a little bit of a doubt like whether or not I can do this, but you should have some confidence in doing what you’re doing. The part that’s unstated there I think in that section it’s what Agrippa calls the imaginative spirit of the magician is the activating force.
So it’s the knowledge and belief and the purity and I think in all senses of the word out, that’s a big term, but the purity of the magician as well allowing all three of those elements to come together into one particular result. So if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, then you probably are going to be unable to enact anything because you do lack the confidence to actually act, a cadent planet.
CB: That really is interesting to me, and I’ve been pondering that a lot lately how the intentionality of the practitioner or of an astrologer can make a real difference in doing or accomplishing something and how that might be relevant for things like electional astrology, where you’re doing something similar, and that’s something Austin and I talked about how electional astrology is the closest analogue in terms of branches of astrology to magic because you’re attempting to actualize and achieve some specific objective. You’re trying to will something to happen by picking one moment to initiate it rather than another. And in that way, you’re almost manipulating the astrology to a certain extent. But it’s ultimately coming from a place of attempting to achieve one outcome rather than another and doing it based on the notion that different moments in time will be more or less successful or more or less auspicious for that thing.
EP: It’s a clarity and the knowledge that you can do it. That’s like I guess you’d be doing an electional chart and someone asked you to elect a marriage. And you think, “Okay, well, I think this is all crap.” I don’t know why you’d be charging for it. But anyway, this hypothetical astrologer. So you don’t believe that astrology is real. Then you’re probably not going to be paying attention to a lot of details that you should be paying attention to. Or if you entirely lack confidence, same thing, you’re going to miss a lot of things. It’s not that you have to be perfect. I think that there’s no magical act or escalade or the act of reading an astrology chart where you are 100% confident in what you do because you don’t…
When you do a reading, you’re putting yourself at risk every single time because you don’t know if you’re going to say something that’s going to be entirely incorrect with that client, or that you’re going to say something that’s going to offend them, or you’re just going to be entirely off base, or maybe the time is wrong. There’s all these things that could go wrong with it. But as long as you’re going in with, “Okay, well, I know how to read this chart.” And just go off of that and the rest falls together. It’s same thing with magical operation. You just say, “Okay, well, there could be results that I don’t expect, but I’m going in with the confidence that this is what I need to do and everything will fall into place.” I think it’s partially what it’s talking.
CB: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and that’s something I’ve been really interested in exploring more and more because that is something you have to learn early on as an astrologer that you don’t have initially when you first start doing consultations, which is that you have the abstract book learning of knowing how to read, let’s say, a birth chart, but you don’t have a lot of practice and actually sitting down with a stranger and reading their chart. And so you may still have a lot of trepidation going into it about is this going to work or sometimes like seeing a configuration of planets and having an idea about what that means, but then being like, “Surely that delineation is not correct. Or this person hasn’t had this highly specific thing happen in their life,” and you’ll maybe hold back and not say that. But then later in the consultation, the person will say that they had this very highly specific thing happen actually in their life. And the astrologer be like, “Oh, well, that makes perfect sense because of this placement.” Sometimes part of the process of getting good at astrology as a practicing astrologer is learning to trust the astrology and to say what the astrology says in the consultation because more times than not, that’s actually going to turn out to be surprisingly true or surprisingly correct.
EP: Sorry. I was going to say in that case, learning to act too, that’s part of it. Like, “Okay, well, this could mean this. This does make sense.”
CB: Yeah, that is a part of that that does get a little tricky because that’s something… I was always impressed by, for example, Robert Zoeller, when I knew him and what I looked at Project Hindsight for a year when he was living at the same time around 2007. I was impressed by one of the things that he I think drew from learning medieval astrology and being one of the first practitioners in modern times to revive the actual practice of medieval astrology was to have that confidence of making very specific literal interpretations of astrological placements and how those will work out in practice, and sometimes developing that inner confidence to say this specific thing that’s abnormally and so highly specific that almost seems like it shouldn’t be true, but through years of doing it and learning actually being able to make a highly specific and true statement just purely based on the astrology. But then yeah, sometimes the highly specific statement also sometimes being not the most, politically correct is not the correct term, but not the most tactful thing to say to a client or not the most appropriate thing to say or other issues that can come up.
EP: I’ve also learned just from my magical work now that I’ve have so many years of my Afro-Cuban practice, I’m now considered an elder by some people. There’s a point where you just have to do things. The first few times I did is I actually had to run a ceremony myself. I still sweat a little bit. Inside I’m thinking, “Okay, well, I can pay attention to 5,000 things, I don’t know what I’m doing. What if I forget this.” There’s all these things that go through your mind. But when you’re in the moment and you’re just doing it, you start to have the common sense of just do it. And if you forget something, you forget something. If you get something a little bit wrong, you get something a little bit wrong. But if you’re worrying about… I think that’s the part of the belief thing is your if you’re worrying about all of these little details, that’s going to probably stop you from doing it. Same with astrology, how many times are people reading books for 20 years and never talking to a client because they’re afraid that they don’t have enough knowledge to actually do it?
CB: Right, yeah. I guess the underlying point here is there’s something about the internal confidence of the astrologer or practitioner or what have you that may impact their ability to actually actualize what they’re trying to do and that’s something in practical terms that should not be surprising because we all know that there’s something to that in terms of just like having confidence in one’s life when you’re trying to do anything versus not and how that can affect things. But it’s interesting thinking about it from an occult or magical or divinatory standpoint how internal confidence of the practitioner could impact things in different ways, sometimes in subtle ways or other times in very major ways, as a whole component to this whole side of things.
EP: Yeah. At heart, if you take the magic seriously– I think even this applies to astrology, it’s a relational type of thing. When you’re developing into a short or a long-term relationship with that client, not that kind of relationship, but it’s a type of relationship… When you’re doing a magical act, you’re entering into a relationship with a spirit, temporarily or long term. It’s like if you’re going on a date. And if you are on that date, the first time date and you’re just talking about how you’re nothing. [laughs] Chances are you probably want to have a second date. There’s a fine line between being too competent, because you also don’t want to go on that date and be like I am the best thing since sliced bread. You want to go too far, but if you can at least go and say, “Okay, well, look, I know what I’m doing here, I’m probably going to make mistakes, I’m probably going to forget something, but I just have to do it. Let the results whether it’s astrology or magic speak for themselves.”
CB: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense to me and I think that’s something really interesting and important to contemplate just the role of that, role of confidence, internal fortitude, belief and knowledge in oneself in what you’re doing can play a role in different things.
CB: All right. I think we’re at our end of our two hours. Is there anything else to mention about this? I guess the book is out, it’s available in fine bookstores now everywhere. It’s published through Inner Traditions. Was there a specific publication date? When did it come out?
EP: It was, I believe, November 21st of 2021.
CB: Okay, cool. Excellent. Well, people can check that out. Your website is ericpurdue.com, right?
CB: Okay, do you have anything coming up or anything you’re excited about in terms of future projects? Are you gonna translate any other 500-year-old works anytime soon?
EP: [laughs] It’s funny I have a little bit of empty nest syndrome.
CB: All right.
EP: Once I finished it, I was kind of [unintelligible] I just finished searching papers. So yeah, I’ve been slowly working on translation of Jean-Baptiste Morin’s Astrologia Gallica. That’s probably going to take a while.
CB: Yeah, that’s not a short book.
EP: Yeah, it’s actually longer than I thought. I’ve been transcribing it and it’s going to be probably, I think in Microsoft Words, about 900 pages or something like that. So it’s not short.
CB: That’d be incredible. I didn’t think you could pull off– like, there was no other books of this stature even out there that you could translate, especially since Ben Dykes has been translating so many. But actually, if you translated Morin’s entire work, that would be comparable. It would be up there compared to this.
EP: I don’t think anybody wants to type this whole book. [laughs] I don’t know I do that to myself. I actually tried to find some smaller book to do and I couldn’t find anything that I felt like people want to buy, or that was notable. But that one stuck out. But I’ve been thinking about, you know, just doing some regular books that I write on astrology. Coz there’s some things I think that that have not been dealt with in depth in the astrology world or at least in modern books. That would be helpful. There’s always room for growth.
CB: Yeah. Cool. All right. Well, I look forward to seeing your next project. People who should check out your website. You do offer astrological consultations, right?
EP: I do. I also sell the book from my site and I will warn people it is not cheaper [laughs] than Amazon. And it’s going to take longer the exact order from the publisher. But if you want to help a poor, starving author, that’s an option.
CB: Would you sign a copy or anything like that?
EP: Yeah, I can also autograph them.
CB: Okay, that’s a good deal.
EP: There we go. [laughs]
CB: Yeah, a signed copy from the translator is a pretty good deal.
EP: And sell on eBay for a fortune.
CB: And are you going to attend? I know one of the first in-person astrology conferences is going to happen again this year in Seattle, the Northwest Astrological Conference, and I would always see you make an appearance because you live in Seattle. Are you gonna make an appearance possibly there?
EP: I am. In fact, this is the first year where I actually paid for tickets so I’m not loitering this year. [laughs]
CB: [laughs] Okay. That’s good. Won’t just have to see you outside of the conference to hang out.
EP: Yeah, like a little wet dog.
CB: Good. All right. Well, people should check that out and maybe they can see you there and they can carry the entire three books set across the country to get you to sign it at the conference?
EP: They get one of those luggage carts that you carry around with you.
CB: Okay, that’s a good idea. All right, well, congratulations on finally releasing this monumental translation. This is a huge deal. The whole community, both astrological and magical, owes you a huge debt of gratitude. You did a great job. Also, shout out to your publisher who did an amazing job putting this together, and it’s really cool that they took this work on not just to publish it, but also to do such a good job.
EP: Also, shout out to the editors because they did an amazing job.
CB: Yeah, I can imagine.
EP: They made me look good.
CB: Good. The unsung heroes of publishing is the editors.
EP: Yeah. I was pleasantly surprised. They found something in every gauge.
EP: Please, use editors, everybody. If you’re writing a book, get an editor.
CB: Yeah, first-time writers often don’t realize the importance of having an editor until the very end or afterwards, but it’s really an important part of the process.
EP: Everyone needs them.
CB: Yeah. All right. Cool. Well, thanks a lot for joining me today.
EP: All right. Thank you for having me.
CB: All right. Thanks, everyone, for watching or listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast. That’s it for this episode, so thanks for watching and we’ll see you again next time.
Special thanks to all the patrons that supported the production of this episode of the podcast through our page on patreon.com. In particular, thanks to the patrons on our producers’ tier including Nate Craddock, Thomas Miller, Catherine Conroy, Kristi Moe, Ariana Amour, Mandi Rae, Angelic Nambo, Sumo Coppock, Issah Sabah, Jake Otero, Morgan MacKenzie, and Kristin Otero. If you like the work that I’m doing here on the podcast and you would like to find a way to support it then please consider becoming a patron through my page on patreon.com and in exchange you’ll get access to bonus content such as early access to new episodes, the ability to attend the live recording of the month ahead forecast each month, access to a private monthly auspicious elections report that we put out each month, access to exclusive episodes that are only available for patrons, or you can also get your name listed in the credits at the end of each episode. For more information, go to patreon.com/astrologypodcast. The main software we use here on the podcast to look at astrological charts is called Solar Fire for Windows which is available at alabe.com, and you can use the promo code AP15 to get a 15% discount. For Mac users, we use a similar set of software by the same programming team called Astro Gold for Mac OS which is available from astrogold.io, and you can use the promo code ASTROPODCAST15 to get a 15% discount on that as well.
If you’d like to learn more about the approach to astrology that I outline on the podcast, then you should check out my book titled Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune, where I traced the origins of Western astrology and reconstructed the original system that was developed about 2000 years ago. In this book, I outline basic concepts but also take you into intermediate and advanced techniques for reading a birth chart, including some timing techniques. You can find more about the book at hellenisticastrology.com/book. The book pairs very well with my online course on ancient astrology called the Hellenistic Astrology Course, which has over 100 hours of video lectures where I go into detail about teaching you how to read a birth chart, and showing hundreds of example charts in order to really demonstrate how the techniques work in practice. Find out more information about that at theastrologyschool.com.
Also, special thanks to our sponsors including The Mountain Astrologer magazine which is available at mountainastrologer.com, the Honeycomb Collective Personal Astrological Almanacs available at honeycomb.co, and the Astro Gold Astrology App which is available for both iPhone and Android at astrogold.io. There are also two major astrology conferences happening this year. The first is the Northwest Astrological Conference happening May 26th through the 30th 2022 near Seattle, Washington. Find out more information at norwac.net. And the second is the International Society for Astrological Research conference, which is taking place August 25th through the 29th 2022 in Westminster, Colorado. You can find out more information about that at isar2022.org.