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The Astrology Podcast

Ep. 417 Transcript: Project Hindsight Interview Commentary

The Astrology Podcast

Transcript of Episode 417, titled:

Project Hindsight Interview Commentary

With Chris Brennan

Episode originally released on September 4, 2023


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: theastrologypodcast@gmail.com

Transcribed by Andrea Johnson

Transcription released September 13th, 2023

Copyright © 2023 TheAstrologyPodcast.com

CHRIS BRENNAN: All right. Hey, everybody. Welcome to today’s livestream. So in this livestream I’m gonna record a commentary on a recent interview that I found and released from 1993 where the primary founders of Project Hindsight were interviewed in 1993, just three months into the project. So the founders of Project Hindsight were Robert Hand, Robert Schmidt, and Robert Zoller, and this was basically the early phases of essentially the revival of ancient astrology, and especially the revival of Hellenistic astrology which has become so popular over the course of the past 30 years. And there’s so many different techniques that lots of astrologers use today like sect or whole sign houses or zodiac releasing or other techniques like that were partially popularized as a result of this translation project which got started in 1992 and 1993.

So what happened is that I found this video that got digitized and sent to me recently and it was just this amazing interview with the ‘3 Roberts’—Robert Hand, Robert Schmidt, Robert Zoller—where they’re kind of introducing the project. And I thought it was really cool because it gives you a real sense of how they were approaching things and what their mindset was. It gives you an idea of, to some extent, how uncertain they were. This was such new ground that nobody had explored before that they sort of knew that they were in over their heads a little bit or that they would have to be careful because a lot of their initial ideas and things, they had to approach it with a blank slate essentially, at least as much as possible. And it’s interesting in this interview seeing how much that’s true or how much they’re sort of setting that at the forefront right from the start.

So I’ve been wanting to do more livestreams recently and more reaction-video-type content, so this is a bit of an experiment. I see a bunch of people are joining me today in the live chat on YouTube. Thanks everyone for joining me, I appreciate it. I’ll try to keep up with some of the comments on the commentary as I’m watching the video as much as I can. But, yeah, if anybody has any questions, let me know and I might take a little section to get to them later, perhaps at the end of the video once I’m done with the commentary.

All right, so other preliminaries. So I decided to release the video yesterday of the interview itself just as a standalone video. So you can find that on my YouTube channel if you just go to my YouTube channel for The Astrology Podcast, or if you just do a Google search. The current title—I don’t know if this will stay the title—but it’s “Early Project Hindsight Interview with Robert Hand, Robert Schmidt, and Robert Zoller,” and you’ll find this video interview that was shot by an astrologer named Jeanne Mozier in her home in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia back in I believe July of 1993. So we’re gonna watch through that today, and I’m gonna do my commentary. But I thought it was important for me to release that on its own separately ‘cause it’s kind of an important historical document, ‘cause it’s one of the first interviews probably that was ever done by the founders of Project Hindsight which would go on to contribute so much to the revival of ancient astrology over the course of the past 30 years.

Saturn was actually going back and forth between late Aquarius and early Pisces back then in 1993, so we’re almost perfectly at one Saturn cycle or one Saturn return from that point right now. All right, so you can find that video on YouTube. I also released an audio version on the podcast as Episode 416 of The Astrology Podcast just in order to preserve that historical document as part of the archives that I’ve been building up on the podcast, so we can do a transcript and everything else. And then I’ll probably release this episode as Episode 417 with my commentary as well as sort of a separate thing. All right, I’m trying to think if there’s anything else before I get started, but maybe that’s it. Maybe we should jump right into it, and I’ll just talk and explain more about it as I go, and I’ll periodically pause the video to explain what’s going on. All right, so let’s do this. Here we go.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: We have with us today the three principles of one of the most exciting projects in astrology today, the Hindsight Project. And let me turn it over to Robert Schmidt—who in many ways was the father of this little project—and have him introduce his colleagues here and tell us a little bit about what Project Hindsight is.

[end of video clip]

CB: Okay, so context for the interview. So that astrologer—her name is Jeanne Mozier—sadly, she was an astrologer who passed away just a few years ago in late 2020. But she was an astrologer from Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, which is where Robert Schmidt and his wife Ellen Black lived when the project started, and some of the early Project Hindsight conferences and events were actually held in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, like their early conclaves. So I believe this interview then took place in her living room. And I’m not entirely sure—I’ve been trying to find out what this event was that this recording is from because there’s actually an audience with a few other astrologers. Maybe 10 other astrologers or so, give or take, were watching, and there’s a separate video that I haven’t released yet that shows a later Q&A where some of these astrologers are sitting around and talking.

And some of the other astrologers that were present—John Townley was there; he was a friend of Robert Schmidt and Ellen Black. And Townley of course was famously the originator, the guy that developed and popularized the concept of the composite chart which is interesting. Other astrologers that were there were Pat White, another astrologer named Kirkland Brooks who did a separate interview with Schmidt and Hand and Zoller from that time that’s actually really interesting, that we’ll talk about later. But anyways, I just wanted to set the context that this is Jeanne Mozier’s living room. I think they must have done some sort of event to celebrate the launch of Project Hindsight ‘cause this is only three months after it started. And in one of the videos there’s a Project Hindsight cake and it seemed like a cool little low-key event, but it wasn’t like a full Project Hindsight conference it seemed, ‘cause as far as I know the first major Project Hindsight conference wasn’t until a year later in 1994. So this is kind of an interesting event that I’m trying to find out more information about, and if anybody happens to know more information about it or happens to have attended, let me know in the comments ‘cause I’d like to hear more about the context.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT SCHMIDT: I’m Robert Schmidt. This is Rob Hand, and that’s Robert Zoller, so you can keep us straight. We are translating all of the Greek astrological material that survives in manuscript or in edited form. We’re starting with the material that is basically part of the Western astrological tradition. And we probably will not confine ourselves to that but that’s where we’re beginning.

[end of video clip]

CB: Okay, so that’s really important. So one of the things that they say right from the outset that’s interesting is they’re starting with the Greek and Latin material because that’s what they specialized in. Robert Schmidt spoke ancient Greek and Zoller did Latin, and then Robert Hand was gonna be the editor of this series, and he was gonna help with both making the translations more presentable and understandable to modern astrologers, but they had an interest in translating basically all ancient astrological texts from different traditions in the long run. And one of the weird things about the project is it was super, super ambitious. I mean, even in the limited scope of what they set out to do—if they just translated all of the Greek and Latin material would in and of itself be enormous and would be like a lifetime’s work—they actually also wanted to translate texts from Arabic; they wanted to translate texts from Sanskrit.

One of the first translations that they actually did from Latin was the work On Rays, by the 9th century Arabic philosopher Al-Kindi, and that text had been translated from Arabic into Latin in the Middle Ages. So because of their interest in it and in that tradition and in the philosophy underlying it, they translated it from Latin into English as one of the very first Project Hindsight texts, and it’s one that Zoller will mention later on in this interview. But I just thought that was interesting ‘cause it gives you some idea that they had really high goals for this, kind of lofty expectations, maybe in some ways a little bit too high in terms of what could actually be accomplished or what could actually be done in one lifetime, but nonetheless it was very idealistic and there was some really cool ideas underlying it.

So they did plan eventually also to do a Sanskrit text, to translate some ancient Indian texts. And at one of the later Project Hindsight conclaves they actually had a delegation of astrologers from India that came and hung out and talked and interacted and they were comparing basically ancient Hellenistic or ancient Greek and ancient Indian astrology from the Sanskrit texts and started to note a lot of the parallels and stuff. So one of the interesting things about Project Hindsight early on is there was this intention to basically recover and revive all of the ancient traditions and see what they found. ‘Cause one of the things is they didn’t go in with a ton of pre-existing expectations about what they’d find because nobody had translated many of these texts before into modern languages, they simply weren’t available. So they were going to be translating and finding things with the hope that there would be things that were useful and valuable, but they didn’t know exactly what yet that they would find.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT SCHMIDT: We have a Greek track and a Medieval Latin track. I’m the Greek translator of the Western astrological tradition. And we probably will not confine ourselves to that but that’s where we’re beginning. And right now we have begun two tracks. We have a Greek track and a Medieval Latin track. I’m the Greek translator. Robert Zoller, on the far right here, is the Medieval Latin translator, and Robert Hand, who you should all recognize, is the general editor of the project.

ROBERT HAND: I translate the translation.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: That’s right. Which, believe us, is necessary.

[end of video clip]

CB: Okay, so that comment is like super funny for anybody that was around Project Hindsight for the subsequent 30 years just because that became kind of like a running gag, that oftentimes Schmidt’s translations in particular were so dense and his translations and other writings could be so dense and so complex and so hard to understand. Not hard to understand, but just using difficult language so that they had to be unpacked. Often there would be somebody that would come in and play the role of—the phrase used to be when I was there between 2005 and 2007 was that somebody needed to ‘translate the translator’. And so, Schmidt would have a different points this succession of different astrologers who would often play that role of taking some of the major overarching concepts or reconstructions, or even just the translations themselves, which even once they were translated into English could still be very difficult to read for modern astrologers because they’re very foreign in their terminology and in their approach compared to modern astrology.

So there would often need to be somebody that would take that and then translate it into something that was useful for modern astrologers or into a presentation that was useful, and Schmidt had a succession of different people that did that, like Alan White at one point. I’ve released one of his lectures where he had this flip chart lecture that I released in 2020 as an episode of The Astrology Podcast—it was his introduction to Hellenistic astrology—and if you Google ‘Introduction to Hellenistic astrology with Alan White’ you can watch that video. It’s Alan giving an introduction to Hellenistic astrology, but essentially what he’s doing is he’s summarizing their understanding of Hellenistic astrology and the main points of the system of Hellenistic astrology as they understood it at that point in time. Somewhere around the year 2000 I think is when he put that lecture together.

Or there would be other people later like Demetra George, for example, who would go and study at Project Hindsight. And she would study with Schmidt and Alan White and then put together a course for students of Kepler College to study Hellenistic astrology based on the translations that Schmidt was producing from Greek and based on their current understanding of everything and some of Schmidt’s commentary, but then she would do extensive commentary and presentations to unpack and make that understandable to a group of contemporary astrology students essentially. So there was always somebody that was playing that role.

And then later at different points I played that role as well in presenting Hellenistic astrology and helping to popularize it and helping to be a bridge, especially with my book, Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune, which was meant to be an overview of the Hellenistic tradition and the history and philosophy and techniques of it; to be sort of like a bridge or to fill the gap between the translations themselves, which are very difficult to read, and modern astrologers who wanted to understand how to practice this system. So when I first saw that reference that Rob made, it was really interesting because it suddenly made sense that that was the origin or that was the source of that saying that was always around Project Hindsight, that there needed to be somebody to ‘translate the translator’, or that joke. And I thought it was interesting that they all laughed about it, and that Rob originally was the person that was playing that role and that that’s essentially how that got started.

So that’s really interesting and it filled some things in for me in the back of my mind, and also explained more what Rob’s role was and that that was actually a very important role. Yeah, maybe we’ll come back to that, and I’ll go through that again some more later, but let’s get back into it. Well, actually the last thing is that sometimes even though that role was necessary, in later years Schmidt didn’t always necessarily appreciate that role because he didn’t like having his system or his reconstructions simplified, or he resented in some instances the need for that to happen even though it was necessary because otherwise there would be no audience, or the audience would be very small. And so, it was a tension for him in terms of his thinking and his teachings between, on the one hand, that being a necessity, but on the other hand, him wanting to present his teachings as he wanted to present his teachings or his translations without necessarily making concessions to modern astrologers or modern readers who needed things to be not dumbed down, but just explained a bit more than they were sometimes in those presentations. So that was the other thing I thought was interesting is just Schmidt’s attitude towards that at this stage because everybody has different eras in their thinking.

And I think what’s really important when you’re doing historical studies is to understand that people’s thoughts can grow and change over time, and that’s one of the reasons why I liked this interview so much. It shows what each of them were thinking at a very early stage in this project and what their attitudes were towards the material and towards the tradition. And in some instances it’s a little different compared to later but that’s why it’s important sometimes to pay attention to the era in which you’re studying different people’s works or texts or what have you and to note changes from one era to the next. So that’s a little bit of what we’re gonna be doing in this video is noting just the approach at the beginning of the project.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT SCHMIDT: So this project was actually only announced in April of this year, about three months ago, where Rob made an announcement about the project at the NORWAC conference—


ROBERT SCHMIDT: —in Washington state. And it has had a rather overwhelming response so far. We have astrologers, professional astrologers, grassroots astrologers, people who are maybe a little skeptical. At all levels people have been supporting this project and the way this is done—go ahead.

JEANNE MOZIER: I just wanted you to tell them—

[end of video clip]

CB: Okay, so that’s really important ‘cause they give us some dating information at this point; one, they say Project Hindsight was announced three months ago at the Northwest Astrology Conference. Apparently what happened is Rob Hand—well part of the context, which I’ve told elsewhere, is that they got together as a group in 1992, at the United Astrology Conference, when Hand and Schmidt especially connected and decided that they should collaborate together on something. But it wasn’t until later in 1992 and early 1993 that they fully formulated this idea of doing a subscription translation project or doing a translation project but essentially crowdfunding it through a subscription service where people would sign up for it. They would give their credit card information or whatever and then they would receive a new translation, essentially one a month; it was the ideal for how fast they were supposed to be translating this stuff, doing somewhat quick preliminary translations of all of the texts and releasing them regularly.

But that was a hugely innovative and interesting model for 1993 to essentially crowdfund a translation project for ancient astrological texts. And nowadays we have other versions of crowdfunding like Indiegogo or—I’m spacing out on what the name of the other big one is that’s been so huge over the past decade, that even lots of astrologers have used it. There’s Patreon, for example, which I use to crowdfund The Astrology Podcast, to help produce different episodes and basically produce this content. They basically did something similar essentially prior to or just before the advent of the internet way back in 1993, which is pretty incredible.

So this project, they announced it. Rob Hand went up and he gave a keynote lecture at the Northwest Astrology Conference in April of 1993, and I was recently able to confirm the dates on that from Laura Nalbandian who runs the Northwest Astrology Conference now—it was her mother running the conference back in 1993—but Laura said the Northwest Astrology Conference took place April 23-26, 1993. In later years Rob would eventually give the keynote lecture after dinner, at the very end of the conference, on the final day of the conference, on Sunday, and it was often this really inspiring lecture about philosophy and other things like that. And I don’t know if he was already in that slot way back then so that he was giving the culminating lecture of the entire conference, but if he was, that would have been like April 26, 1993, sometime in the evening just after dinner. Maybe like 7:00 or 8:00 PM.

So that chart—I’m trying to track down if that’s a correct date, and I’m trying to track down that lecture from Rob. But that chart for the announcement of Project Hindsight to the astrological community in that lecture would probably be as close as you’re gonna get to a foundation chart for Project Hindsight because that really was the moment that Project Hindsight was born, when it was announced to the astrological community at that conference in April of 1993. So I’m gonna keep researching that. I’m also trying to get a hold of that lecture so I can listen to it. And if I find anything interesting I’ll let everyone know.

So this places the dating of this three months after that, which was July of 1993. And what happened is in a separate lecture that I found recently from the same month, Rob said that initially when they went to NORWAC and announced it, they brought 300 registration forms, and he said there was maybe 200 or 300 people who attended the conference, and by the end of the conference all those registration forms were gone; so they had been taken by 300 of them. So he did say there was a couple of months after that, after April, where they were kind of waiting around nervously not knowing if this was gonna work and if people were gonna sign up for this subscription service, but he said about two months later the forms really started to come in, and all of a sudden they realized that this was gonna work basically, that they were gonna be able to do this and pull it off and do this translation project based on this subscription model. So that would have happened basically right around this time. Two-to-three months later is right around the time of this interview.

And I think that’s one of the reasons why they’re all so excited in this interview, as we’ll see, because they realize this is working and now they’re actually gonna do this and they’re gonna be producing new translations as fast as they can basically once a month and kind of firing on all four cylinders; because one of the interesting things I’ve learned with The Astrology Podcast is when you have a crowdfunding or a subscription service-type model that really pushes you to keep generating content regularly in order to meet those obligations. So this is the point—very early on in the project when this interview happened—when they suddenly were at that position where they’re like, “Okay, the idea is taking off. Now we have to deliver and start producing these translations.” And they had already produced one or two translations at this point, and Schmidt is about to show off the first one here in just a few minutes.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: —exactly what that support means and how they too could be a part of it.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: What that means is that every month the translators at this point, Robert Zoller and myself, translate a unit of astrological material from an original language. That’s usually about 75 pages in the original. And as we do that we also annotate it fully, trying to explore difficulties and raise philosophical issues. And at the same time Rob Hand is then trying to translate this into material that’s more familiar to modern astrologers and sometimes this can be very difficult. Well, these booklets, when they are done, probably are about a hundred pages. We have one right here. This is the first booklet published by the Hindsight Project, and it is Paulus Alexandrinus, a Greek who wrote at the end of the 300s. This work has never been translated into any modern language. It was translated into Latin in the 1500s, and nobody has read it since then which means nobody really has any idea what’s in it. Even the scholars who did the critical edition and put it into book form evidently didn’t pay too much attention to its content. Well, we chose this as the first work, and it’s very representative of the kinds of things we’re doing. It’s done in booklet form. We consider this to be a provisional translation.

[end of video clip]

CB: Okay, so he’s getting into the provisional thing, so I’ll pause it there. So their first translation was from the work of a 4th century astrologer. I think Paulus actually wrote in the year 378 or somewhere around there, probably in Alexandria, Egypt essentially. So this is an image of the book. So it says Paulus Alexandrinus: Introductory Matters, translated by Robert Schmidt, edited by Robert Hand, Project Hindsight Greek Track, Volume I. On the one hand, they had a Greek track and then they had a Latin track for translations from Latin. They also were gonna expand it to other languages, and at one point Meira Epstein translated some texts of Ibn Ezra from Hebrew into English, which was gonna be a whole Hebrew track. So, yeah, they’re really starting there, but they had intentions to do even more than they already were doing.

So there’s Paulus. It’s this little self-published book with a blue cover. They self-published this using a crank printer at home because Schmidt had a background working at a small independent publishing company or something like that. During the 1980s, he and his wife Ellen had actually started an earlier translation project for ancient mathematical texts, which he later reflected was kind of like a dry run essentially for Project Hindsight, and they started that around 1984 for the ancient mathematics texts; 1983 or 1984. But in a different interview Schmidt says that didn’t end up working because they weren’t able to get enough support to fund the translation of all these ancient mathematical texts. They couldn’t find enough interest in it, even though it did generate just a little bit of interest in some people. So anyway, I’m saying that because it means part of the background going into this that’s really interesting and relevant for us is that they were self-publishing these little booklets, these preliminary translations.

They would print it out on the paper and then they would fold it together in half, and then they would staple the edges basically for the binding; so the book itself was just held together by two little staples. But this is another part of the reason why it was such a cool little project. They weren’t just crowdfunding this whole thing, they were also self-publishing and printing the little booklets themselves that they would then mail out to subscribers, which is a pretty cool model for doing things and is—I don’t know how to describe it—almost like a ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ or some phrase like that that seems relevant here in terms of sort of taking everything into your own hands and then doing it in order to do something as major as translate all the ancient astrological texts from the ancient world. So I wanted to explain that just because these translations aren’t widely available, because they went out of print years ago, they were pretty cool at the time, and, yeah, it was pretty important. All right, so let’s go back to the video.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT SCHMIDT: This is somewhat of a technical term for us. Since nobody has read this material for hundreds of years, it would be somewhat pretentious of us at this point to try to give a definitive translation of any one of these works for the simple reason that nobody understands a lot of these concepts and you can’t get everything that you need to know from one work. So what we are doing is we are doing a first time through, instead of doing what scholars oftentimes do—spend their entire lives or entire career doing one work and doing what they think is a definitive edition. We think this is a very poor strategy. Instead, we are going to go racing through the entire corpus, doing the best translation we can on this monthly basis. And after this, after we’ve covered all the material and we find out the mistakes that we made in the early one—because we certainly make mistakes—then we will return and do more definitive editions. And these will be published in hardback form and we hope represent the fruits of Hindsight and will be some permanent acquisition to the Western world.

[end of video clip]

CB: Okay, so that’s really important. So Schmidt has just explained there that what they’re doing is they’re doing preliminary translations of all these texts, where they would go through and translate them and get them out to subscribers, but it would be preliminary; it would not it was not meant to be like a final definitive translation of each of these texts. Because one of the things that you can see is both the translator and the editor would write an introduction at the beginning that would be, I don’t know, like 5 or maybe sometimes 10-pages-long to each translation, and they would also write footnotes where they would sometimes write commentary about different lines of the text. And you can actually see in this that they’re very open about their speculations and open about talking about things that they understand at this point from the text after having translated it versus things that are still ambiguous, or there were some words, for example, that they didn’t feel comfortable translating yet, so they would leave it sort of provisionally in the original language; like, for example, the word zoidion, which is the word for ‘a sign of the zodiac’ that we just call a zodiac sign today.

Schmidt wasn’t comfortable translating it because he couldn’t settle on an exact word for it yet. It meant a few different things, and he wasn’t sure yet which one was the correct meaning, so that means he left it untranslated. So when you read a lot of the Project Hindsight translations, the preliminary ones, when it mentions the sign of the zodiac, it’ll just say zoidion in italics to show that it’s still in the original Greek. And then later, I think by 2009, when Schmidt did eventually publish his first and only final definitive translation text, which was a translation of Antiochus, he finally settled on translating zoidion as the word ‘image’ because he thought that what the original Greek word meant to convey the most was the idea of an image for many different reasons that I’m not gonna get into.

But that shows you the interesting thing about the project early on, the sort of tentative nature of it, the tentative nature of some of the conclusions, as well as their openness to being wrong essentially or to revising their thinking as they went. And there were different things that they revised their thinking on at different points during the course of the project and during the course of doing the preliminary translations because they were literally just translating each text and then learning from it, and then moving on to the next text and then learning from it, and continually adding to what they knew about the tradition, but it was very much a work in progress as opposed to the other way that it’s sometimes done in academia; like a person will spend years and years and years or they’ll spend their entire life or entire professional career just trying to translate and understand let’s say one text. Let’s say somebody’s doing a PhD dissertation and they spend years working on just that one text, and then eventually they’ll publish it much later on, later in their career or even towards the end of their career before they say anything definitive about it, so they were trying to take the opposite approach.

In the astrological community one of the issues is that because astrology is sort of on the outskirts of society, and certainly on the outskirts of academia, astrology doesn’t really have institutional support. So there wasn’t really any way to get grants or funding for a project like this to translate ancient astrological texts either in an academic setting or really in most settings. This was a unique way that they were able to do that, by having it funded by the astrological community and having astrologers kind of like buy into it and sign up for this subscription service, and then through that that would allow them to start translating the texts and doing the research in the process of doing that. So that’s one of the things that’s kind of interesting about the project and kind of unique about those early days.

And actually what’s interesting is, to me, that makes the preliminary translations very valuable because, especially Schmidt, is often translating the texts, the preliminary translations, in a very literal way, where he just looks at the Greek text and then he tries to render the translation as literally to the Greek as he possibly can. And he’s not adding a lot of additional assumptions or other things on top of that because he didn’t really have a lot of firm opinions about things at that point. And, to me, one of the things that’s very valuable about the preliminary translations is that there’s not a lot of biases or assumptions going into them which makes them a lot more neutral. Even in some of Schmidt’s later work, like with Antiochus, his views on Hellenistic astrology were much more fixed or much more firm in terms of what he thought the tradition was and how it was constructed and how it originated and different things like that, and that would sometimes inform the way that his translation was done basically, how he translated the texts based on what he thought about that tradition versus this early stage in his thinking. He had so few preconceptions about it that the translations were much more neutral in a way.

So pros and cons of the preliminary translations is that they, on the one hand, are preliminary and as a result of that could sometimes contain mistakes or omissions or different things because this is the first time they’re translating or in some instances that anybody’s translating these texts—like Paulus had never been translated into any modern language before—so sometimes you have that preliminary nature which could be viewed as a downside. But on the other hand that preliminary nature to some extent allowed the translations to be much more neutral than they could have been otherwise, which to me is actually in some ways kind of an advantage. All right, so let’s go back to this.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: Well, good, guys. That’s part of what you have to do. Okay, Bob, you’ve been through that first book. You did the translations, you’ve read it. Tell me the most exciting thing you discovered in reading that book and doing that translation.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: I discovered that this writer—who was considered to be a wretched writer according to the scholars—actually had a very sophisticated philosophical understanding and symbolic understanding and mythological understanding, and he had embedded his astrological thinking into that framework, into that matrix. This was really quite amazing.

JEANNE MOZIER: And how about a usable piece of information? I know that appeals to you as a scholar.

[end of video clip]

CB: That’s a really funny comment because Schmidt’s interests—part of his background was in philosophy and mathematics and different things like that which is where a large part of his genuine interests lie. And so, Schmidt himself was pretty interested in the connections between the astrological traditions and the ancient philosophical traditions, and he came to believe that astrology represented a previously unknown philosophical school that wasn’t often recognized in studies of ancient philosophy essentially, which is for the most part actually true for sure, depending on how you define that, there’s different caveats; but it’s interesting that that’s his first explanation of what’s interesting about this very first translation that they’ve done. But then Jeanne’s reaction is actually great because that’s actually very much the reaction that many contemporary astrologers had, like “That’s great. But what can I get from this in terms of practical techniques? Like what value do these translations have, and what am I gonna learn from them that will help me as a practicing astrologer today?” So it’s actually kind of funny.

And that of course also became one of the tensions just in terms of Project Hindsight and in terms of the need to fund this project and make it work in a way that the astrological community supported it on the one hand, but also the tension between how sometimes the modern astrological community wasn’t as interested in works on history or philosophy or other things like that. I mean, something even on the podcast, for example, that I deal with or struggle with a little bit sometimes is that my most popular episodes are the ‘technique’ episodes, where I’m teaching people how to practice astrology, since that’s the thing that most astrologers want to know, and astrologers tend to be less interested in the more historical episodes, for example, like this one or other historical episodes that I’ve done. So I try to sprinkle my historical content in between my practical content to keep things interesting.

And it’s interesting here that Jeanne’s reaction just kind of reminds me of one of the tensions that they would have dealt with in the ‘90s in terms of trying to popularize this project to the astrological community, and that they were probably still getting their messaging down about how to do that and why it was valuable. Because even though Schmidt and Hand and Zoller were kind of like super nerds who were into history and philosophy and studying ancient astrology and all this other stuff, that wasn’t necessarily something that would motivate most practicing astrologers. And in fact a story that I’ve heard over and over again is that there were a lot of contemporary astrologers in the 1990s who signed up for the subscription service who were persuaded by especially Rob Hand’s promotions of it and why it was important to recover ancient astrology and recover our tradition. But then many the modern astrologers of the 1990s would then open up the booklets, the preliminary translations, and find them incredibly difficult to read and understand, because they are just at face value if you don’t have a primer that kind of orients you to the tradition, which is eventually why I wrote my book. Demetra’s two-volume series titled Ancient Astrology is another amazing primer and way of orienting yourself that allows you to read the translations and understand what they mean. If you don’t have that—once you get the translation—even though it’s in English, you hit a brick wall and there’s not very far you can go.

So I’ve heard many astrologers from the ‘90s that signed up for the translation service received the booklets, but then they would just kind of place them on their shelves and never really read them or understand what was going on even though they were helping to fund the project because they believed in what they were doing, or they believed in what was happening and they thought it was important even if it didn’t necessarily personally impact them or they weren’t able to get a lot out of it.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: Those of us who are out there, are we gonna find out something that says, “Oh, well, if you have the Sun square the Moon it really means this instead of that?”

ROBERT ZOLLER: One of the things that that these two fellas did with that book was to solve the pressing question of the dreaded monomoiria, which scholars heretofore had been unable to solve, has now been put in clear English and is a usable technique in this Alexandrian astrology. But for exactly what they are, I think you should hear what Bob has to say.

JEANNE MOZIER: Okay, so let’s hear about the dreaded monomoiria.

ROBERT HAND: The dreaded monomoiria. The ‘dreaded’ is not part of the original text. The monomoiria—there are actually two systems in Paulus. The one that got the epithet ‘dreaded’ was a system in which each degree of a sign is ruled by a planet. And in this particular case the planetary rulerships are assigned according to triplicity rulers, which is another layer of complexity, but it turns out the system is used to rectify horoscopes. And in fact there are a number of ancient techniques that astrologers know of, the two most outstanding are the Trutine of Hermes and the Animodar of Ptolemy. Well, there are at least four others in Paulus that are totally unknown to modern astrologers of a similar nature.

[end of video clip]

CB: I want to say I love Rob Hand and that’s basically it. That’s all I wanted to say. I know he’s not around as much these days, over the past 5 to 10 years, but seeing him here and seeing him when he’s like younger—this was 30 years ago—and just his cadence and his manner of presentation and how he talks and stuff while watching this video brought back a lot of memories not just of him but also of Schmidt and seeing Schmidt much younger, and seeing how Schmidt talks and jokes and laughs and remembering those parts of his personality. Seeing Zoller before he developed Parkinson’s disease basically, which he would in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, which then really stopped him from being able to produce a lot of things. And Zoller passed away a few years ago in 2020. Schmidt passed away in 2018.

So one of the things—for people like me that knew all three of these men—seeing this recording from way back in 1993 is actually really interesting and really powerful. And one of the things subtly about it is just it gives you an idea of each of their personalities and some of their quirkiness and things like that, and some of the things that are very endearing about each of them. And I know there’s a lot of older astrologers, a lot of astrologers that are around that’ll have similar reactions. Last night when I released a video, I had a couple of friends write me to say that they had reactions like that. And so, that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to release this because it’s important in terms of remembering each of these astrologers, and not just their contributions through their work but also to some extent their personalities and their different personal quirks that made them who they are or who they were.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: —astrologers mining these little booklets for topics to talk about at conferences at least from now to the end of the millennium, right?

ROBERT HAND: Oh, I think so, yeah. I hope so. I’m sure that some of it will probably be very inspired and creative and some of it will probably be best left in the dustbin of history.

JEANNE MOZIER: But isn’t that what provisional is all about?

[end of video clip]

CB: So Rob makes a joke. He used that phrase ‘the dustbin of history’ a few times in later lectures, so I think that’s funny. But Jeanne’s like, “I’m sure some of these techniques will give astrologers things that they’ll research and talk about and present at conferences,” and Rob’s like, “Yeah, probably, and some of that will probably be good and some of that will probably not be good,” which is true. Although for the most part I think with the revival of traditional astrology it’s been interesting how much I do think that’s raised some of the level of discourse in the astrological community and some of the quality partially because traditional astrology is hard. It’s harder to do, especially in the earlier stages, because you need to learn ancient history and philosophy, and you have to struggle with reading these very dense and sometimes difficult-to-read translations and different texts like that. And there is a certain way inherently the challenge or difficulty of the process can make you slow down and think a little bit more carefully and more deeply sometimes about what you’re doing. So I don’t want that to be misconstrued as like a weak comparison of saying ‘modern astrology/bad, traditional astrology/good’ or something like that ‘cause that’s not the case at all. I think there’s great things as well as bad things about modern and traditional astrology. And, ideally, 30 years later, now that we’ve largely recovered traditional astrology, we’re at the stage where we’re really starting to synthesize the two and find the way to put together the best pieces from both.

But, yeah, I thought this comment of Rob’s is interesting. Because all of the statements they make in this interview—it’s so interesting to look at it now, 30 years later in retrospect, how much the project that they were just barely getting started with and were just initiating at this time has transformed the astrological community in many ways, and that there’s new generations of astrologers that are coming up who sometimes are learning ancient astrology first and then they’re learning modern astrology later. Which is pretty wild to me because that’s the reverse of how I learned it—I learned modern first and then learned ancient astrology—or some of my other contemporaries. But, yeah, we’ve got to look at this entire interview in the context of how much things have changed in the past 30 years in many instances directly as a result of the work that these three did.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT HAND: Oh, yes, yes. To answer the question you asked of Schmidt—of myself, I already mentioned the second issue. I don’t want to go into that again in another context today, but another one which I found personally enormously gratifying was several years ago I wrote an essay in my book Essays on Astrology on the 13th harmonic, and this was based on a reference in Neugebauer to a system the Greek astrologers used. And ever since I read that reference in Neugebauer, I was finding instance after instance after instance of this technique done differently from the way I described it in the essay, and I was beginning to wonder if Neugebauer had hallucinated and I had been led down the garden path by Neugebauer. Well, there high, wide and handsome, sitting in the middle of Paulus is exactly the method that I got from Neugebauer, complete with examples of how to use it and what its significance is. Including some things that were noted by no one else, and they also appear in these rectification techniques. So we not only have this technique supported by Paulus, but also practical illustrations of its use.

[end of video clip]

CB: So an important point here or context—especially with respect to some of the debates that have happened recently—is that even though they’re very early on in the project and they’ve only produced Paulus, or like one or two translations at this point, each of them has already done an enormous amount of background work and has a lot of background in the history of ancient astrology and the academic scholarship that had been done up to this point. Hand, for example, right now is talking about Otto Neugebauer who is one of the most significant historians of ancient science and especially astronomy in the 20th century. So each of them already had a pretty strong background. And even though they were translating some of these things into English for the first time, a lot of them had already studied the history of astrology pretty extensively. Certainly Hand had, Zoller had, and even Schmidt at this point.

One of the things I realized and learned about Schmidt actually in another interview—that I found recently that I may release at some point soon—is that apparently when he was working at Matrix Software sometime between 1989 and 1991 or so started translating the text of Claudius Ptolemy, the 2nd century astrologer Claudius Ptolemy. And Hand actually describes this, and that was apparently the context of the famous quote or the famous line that I had always heard told about what happened at UAC in 1992. When Schmidt was translating Ptolemy for Michael Erlewine in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Hand originally said he was gonna find a way to do a new translation and commentary on it, but when he heard that Schmidt and Erlewine were working on it, he decided not to. But then Hand said to Schmidt at some point in that time period, in like 1990-1991, maybe as early as 1989, “If Erlewine ever drops the ball, then come find me and we’ll work together and we’ll do something. We’ll collaborate.”

And what happened in 1992 is that Schmidt had stopped working with Erlewine for some reason. There may have been some tensions there, but he stopped working for Erlewine and stopped working for Matrix. And then Schmidt and his wife Ellen got in a car and they tell this famous story of charging up their credit card and going to UAC, and then Schmidt finds Hand in I think the bookstore at the United Astrology Conference in I believe April of 1982, and he goes up to Hand and he says, “Erlewine dropped the ball. Let’s do something.” And right then basically, that night, and over the next two or three nights, there was this succession of meetings with several different astrologers where they started to formulate the idea that would eventually become Project Hindsight, and this idea of doing some kind of translation project or some sort of ‘archive for historical texts’, which is the term Hand used for it and for his version of it. It sometimes gets kind of confused, but Hand had this term ‘ARHAT’, which was the Archive for the Retrieval of Historical Astrological Texts. So over the course of the next several months they kept working out the idea, but I think it wasn’t until late 1992 and early 1993 that they came up with the idea of doing a subscription service to fund this project. And that was the innovative idea that became Project Hindsight, which then was announced in April of 1993, and then here they are having just produced their first translation and doing an interview about it in July of 1993. All right.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: Now do you feel that this will make those of us who practice astrology with individuals better astrologers?

ROBERT HAND: Eventually. But there’ll have to be a great deal of interpretation done between now and then. Not instantly, no.


ROBERT SCHMIDT: More thoughtful perhaps.

ROBERT HAND: Yes. One thing I am looking forward—

[end of video clip]

CB: So what’s super important and really interesting to think about and reflect on that I thought was really fascinating is she asked them point blank are these translations and recovering ancient astrology gonna make contemporary astrologers better astrologers. And Hand actually kind of hedges or he’s actually actually very conservative about it, and he’s like eventually, but we’re gonna have to do a lot of work first. It’s not immediately gonna make everybody a better astrologer, a great astrologer, or something like that, which is actually a very measured response, especially because they’re trying to promote this and like sell this project to the astrological community. And I was kind of surprised that they’re really not over-hyping it. I mean, they certainly have very high ambitions and lofty expectations and all sorts of things about this project to some extent in the long term, which turned out to be almost too idealistic or shooting too high in terms of what they were eventually able to accomplish. Although the reasons that it wasn’t fully accomplished or finished were due to a variety of different things that happened and maybe there were some scenarios where they could have done what they set out to do if personality conflicts hadn’t gotten in the way in later years.

But it’s so interesting to me that they’re actually setting very reasonable expectations, not just for themselves but also for the astrological community. And Hand is very upfront about saying, “This is a work in progress and we’re translating all these texts. But even once we translate them, it’s gonna take a while to unpack and understand the techniques that the texts are describing, and then eventually to put the tech techniques in practice and test them out and see which ones really work and which ones are really effective versus which ones don’t or which ones aren’t as effective,” just like any other technique or tradition in contemporary modern astrology. So I thought that was really interesting in terms of the expectations that they set. And Schmidt is quick right there to be like, “Well, it will help them think more deeply about the material,” and he tries to sort of counterbalance Hand’s somewhat overly cautious expectations or statements about what subscribers might expect. Schmidt says that it will at the very least help people think more deeply about the tradition and about the techniques that they’re using and the philosophical and other principles underlying them, which was his main interest, especially primarily coming from a background in philosophy and mathematics and ancient history. But, yeah, I thought that was really interesting. Again, that then becomes clear as part of discussing the history of Project Hindsight and the narrative surrounding it and how they were actually pitching this to the community and talking about it. Here, they’re just a bit more measured than I expected, and I thought that was interesting.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT HAND: —eliminating is lines that begin, “Well, the ancients said,” and you never gonna find out who said ancient was, or “Gee, according to our teachers, this is an ancient practice. We’ve merely brought out the date.” Again, no reference.

JEANNE MOZIER: Are there ancient astrology—

[end of video clip]

CB: Okay, so that’s really important, and that’s true. Hand says one of the things that will be good about translating all these texts is that we’ll have a clear account of the historical record of what the ancient astrologers said. And he says like in some instances that means that people that are claiming great antiquity for certain techniques today, that the ancients use these techniques, we may find that those techniques are actually modern inventions or much more recent developments than certain people are claiming. And that’s actually true, there are some techniques. I don’t want to get into a whole thing about this. I’ve meant to do a podcast episode at some point but for example—actually, no, I’m not gonna get into it. I’m not trying to get into some controversy today, but there’s some techniques that astrologers in the late 20th century thought or sometimes honestly believed were techniques from ancient astrology but actually it turns out were misunderstandings, or they misread the text thinking that it was outlining a technique.

But then it turned out when we went back and translated all the texts and saw the ancient chart examples—for example, Valens uses over a hundred chart examples—that we couldn’t find any traces of that technique from prior to the 20th century, which meant that it was a modern invention. And that doesn’t mean it was wrong—and this is something actually Schmidt emphasized constantly throughout his career—sometimes in the process of recovering or genuinely trying to reconstruct something, we can sometimes accidentally invent something new that is valid, even if it turns out that what we invented is something new and that we didn’t actually recover something that was genuinely ancient. But through the process of doing that and of making the effort sometimes you can find something or make a discovery that’s actually valid or useful. And this is something that he had taken from some of his earlier work in mathematics, and especially with the mathematician Francois Viète, and it was something he constantly referred to and talked about over and over again.

And there’s pros and cons to that. To some extent that’s a little tricky because then it’s a little bit of a cover. If you are just inventing things in modern times but claiming they’re ancient, there can sometimes be an issue there. If you’re not being true to the tradition but saying you are, there can be a tension there. So that’s a whole separate discussion, but I thought it was interesting that Hand said that because that would actually be the outcome in some instances, not a lot of instances. But one of the things about reviving ancient astrology is now it’s completely different than where it was 30 years ago where if somebody says some wacky new technique is something that was used in ancient astrology, you can turn around and say, “Well, what text did you find that in? Let me know what chapter and paragraph and I’ll go check it out ‘cause I want to study that technique further and see how the ancient astrologers talked about it?” And if that person doesn’t have an answer for that, it may mean that they’re just like making that up. And that’s completely different than where it was in the 1980s or early 1990s where somebody could claim antiquity for a technique without it actually being from ancient times. So that’s radically changed the astrological community in certain ways.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: —astrology books in translation right now?

ROBERT SCHMIDT: There’s only Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos primarily.

ROBERT HAND: And Manilius.


ROBERT HAND: And Firmicus.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: But not in Greek. Of course that’s only Latin.


ROBERT ZOLLER: That’s a relative term.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: Which is a relative term.

CAMERAMAN: I knew it was there, okay.

JEANNE MOZIER: Well, Bob Zoller, do you have a treatise ready to come out?

ROBERT ZOLLER: Al-Kindi’s On the Stellar Rays is already completed and coming out probably by the second week of August.

JEANNE MOZIER: And what did you find exciting in that?

ROBERT ZOLLER: Well, it’s a text on magic, and the entire subject is a very intriguing subject because the premise is of course sort of tacitly addressed in this particular text. But something that modern astrologers are always troubled by is, namely, once I figure out what the problem is, what do I do about it? And while this particular text doesn’t give specific instructions as to what to do about it, it lays out a theory as to why something can be done about it or how something might be able to be done about it, so that of course is the first step. And in an indirect fashion it alludes to other known texts which we also intend to translate, such as the Picatrix, which are quite specific and not quite as tightly philosophically conceived as this particular one is. So they complement each other very nicely.

JEANNE MOZIER: And is this Latin material that you’re translating original material, or is it Greek that was translated—

[end of video clip]

CB: So that point was important, and just to reiterate, Zoller’s first translation and the first translation they did in the Latin track was Al-Kindi, who was a 9th century Arabic philosopher. On Rays is actually a very dense, sort of abstract philosophical text essentially. Which is interesting ‘cause that also sets part of the tone for Project Hindsight where it really was not just about the techniques, but they had a major emphasis also on the philosophy and metaphysics underlying ancient astrology, so much so that one of their first translations was not just Paulus Alexandrinus—which is a much more practical text on natal astrology and reading birth charts—but it was also publishing Al-Kindi and this more philosophical text from the 9th century that the three of them found interesting. But it shows an interest in translating texts from the Latin and from the later Arabic tradition as well and that that was a core part of Project Hindsight very early on. They were looking at all of these different traditions of ancient astrology to try to understand and reconstruct what the earliest systems of astrology were.

Also interesting and notable about this is that Zoller briefly mentions the Picatrix in passing because he actually had an interest in astrological magic. And out of the three people, he started going back and studying the earlier tradition and practicing traditional astrology earlier than anyone else, starting in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But um I thought that was just interesting because I definitely think, for example, if Zoller hadn’t left the project later in 1985 I think at the latest, and especially if Zoller hadn’t developed Parkinson’s disease in the mid-to-late-1990s, that he probably would have translated the Picatrix and the whole revival of astrological magic that’s happened over the course of the past decade or so probably would have happened a little bit earlier due to Zoller’s interest in some of that stuff. He probably would have made that one of his translations that he would have done, but due to what happened with his health I think that really set him back a lot in the subsequent years.

So he did end up influencing a number of later astrologers that then became pivotal in that revival. So, for example, Christopher Warnock I think was influenced to some extent by Robert Zoller, although I know Warnock also studied with Lee Lehman. So there were different threads of traditional and Medieval and Renaissance astrology going on, different overlapping things. But I know, for example, Ben Dykes was a student of Robert Zoller’s. Helena Avelar and Luis Ribeiro, who wrote a very important introductory text on traditional astrology, were students of Robert Zoller. So he did influence different people, and it’s interesting seeing the revival of astrological magic especially over the past decade or two, but Zoller I think could have ended up playing a much more major role in that because he was going back and studying texts like the Picatrix and stuff like that decades before anybody else was. And he was reading them in Latin due to his background in Latin or ability to read Latin, I should say.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: —translated into Latin?

ROBERT ZOLLER: Well, this is an interesting question really because it shows the nature of the tradition. This text is by Al-Kindi. He was a 9th century Arab philosopher who was translating Greek texts into Arabic, and this is a Latin translation which is all that survives of his Arabic work. It was an original work for him, but it was based on his Greek translations of other works. So it’s interesting that you see the actual transmission of knowledge from the Greeks to the Arabs, from the Arabs back to Latin in the Middle Ages.

JEANNE MOZIER: And one of the problems in all of this must be that you’re finding that the translations through multiple languages have altered what the originals were.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: Yes. In some cases it appears that the intermediate language—even though it may have shared part of the original meaning of the concept when it was further translated into English—lost all connection with the original. This happens in the Greek term zoidion. We have the word ‘zodiac’ which is related to this. That’s the Greek word that corresponds to ‘sign’ of the zodiac. And through the Latin translation of the word zoidion into signum and signum into sign, we’ve lost all contact with the original semantic field. The Greek word—it’s totally gone. You have no contact.

[end of video clip]

CB: So that was big and that’s all he ends up saying about that, which is interesting because that became such a big thing for Schmidt later. But a large part of his motivation for going back and translating the earliest astrological texts that they could find in the horoscopic astrological tradition was that they were motivated—especially Schmidt was motivated by this idea that astrologers for the past 2,000 years had been playing this game of telephone. I guess it’s called different things in different regions, but it’s when a group of kids sit around in a circle, and one of them at the beginning of the circle whispers a secret or whispers a word into the ear of one kid, and then they whisper it into the ear of the kid next to them, and then they pass it on to the next one, and by the time it gets to the end of the circle what was said or the sentence or the word is completely different or sometimes mangled compared to what was said at the beginning. And that’s kind of the issue and something that Schmidt especially emphasized in the astrological tradition.

Sometimes you would have these texts or sometimes you would have these words where it would start out in one language, let’s say ancient Greek, and then it would get translated into Latin, and then it would get translated into Arabic, and then it would get translated back into Latin, and then it would get translated into some European language like English. So you’re talking about this chain of transmission that’s going from language to language and culture to culture over 2,000 years and every time something is translated there are some things that are added and there are other things that are lost, but especially the words themselves—it’s hard to maintain sometimes the original meaning or range of meanings. ‘Cause sometimes a single word will not just mean one singular thing but sometimes a word can mean like 5 or 10 different things that are all relevant in some way to understanding the full context of what that word is supposed to refer to conceptually. But each time you translate it, it gets sort of constricted and narrowed down further and further so that it may not retain the same range of meanings by the time you get to the end of that translation process.

So an obvious and very tangible example of that is the text of Dorotheus of Sidon where what we have of that text, or at least the main version of it that survived in its near entirety—Dorotheus wrote in the 1st century—is an English translation of an Arabic translation of a Persian translation of a translation from the original Greek text, and the original Greek text was written in the form of a poem. So the text, once you get to that point, while still recognizable as being derived from the original, there’s a lot of drift in the language once you get to that point and a lot of things that are sometimes changed and either added or lost. So a big part of this project, the entire Project Hindsight in the beginning, was the idea of going back to the original languages and then translating directly from those original languages and trying to maintain the words and the terminology as close as possible when rendering into English, and this was something that Schmidt emphasized especially. So it’s interesting here seeing his first statements about that in a public interview, something that would become such a core piece of his work in later years.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: —and Bob gonna be overlapping any translations where you might translate something from the original Greek and he translates it from a Latin derivative and find out what that gap is?

ROBERT ZOLLER: Well, we’re trying to stay away from duplicating each other’s efforts, but we are in contact all the time comparing notes. For instance, just before we started this filming, we were talking about a situation where the Latin tradition, Latin Medieval tradition, speaks about a planet being in somebody’s term, some other planet’s term. But Bob has found that the reference to the terms in Greek is always in plural: a planet in so many degrees is in the terms of another planet. So there are some subtleties of that sort that have to be looked at ultimately. Also, one of the things that Rob just mentioned, the dodekatemoria, which is basically a 13th harmonic, may very well turn out to be handled in the Medieval system as the Latin equivalent of the dwadasamsas or the duadekaimon, duadenias, depending on the translation, being just a 12-fold multiplication position.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: There are a few cases of interesting overlap, for example, a work by Abu Ma’shar, very important. We will have an Arabic translation eventually. We don’t have it working yet, but it was very important in Medieval times. Some of those works in Arabic, even though they were based on Greek material, got translated back into Greek at different times. So there may be bits and fragments of Greek material that would be helpful for even finding out what was in other tracks. Sometimes they would be translated from Greek into Arabic and then sometimes from Arabic into Greek again and then sometimes into Latin, so there are all kinds of confusing overlaps. In most cases we would translate a very important work, for example, some of Abu Ma’shar’s works in Latin, Bob Zoller would translate that. Even though the Arabic text might survive we later translate it from Arabic because the Latin translation itself would have been so important. Historically, people would have learned from that rather than the original Arabic. But then we would do the Arabic so that we can make a comparison with the actual truth of the work, you might say.

[end of video clip]

CB: So that’s actually something they would later follow through on. For example, one of Schmidt’s later translations, I think in 1999 or 2000 or 2001, he translated part of Abu Ma’shar’s book on solar returns, which he translated from a Greek translation. Somebody in the late Middle Ages had translated it from Arabic, which was the language Abu Ma’shar originally wrote it in, in the 9th century, and that text was translated from Arabic into Greek, and then Schmidt translated the Greek version into English because Greek was the primary ancient language that Schmidt knew. Although he also knew Latin and he spoke a few different modern European languages like French and German and English ‘cause Schmidt was just really good with languages; he had a Gemini Moon. Some people just have a knack for languages while others don’t, and Schmidt was somebody that had a knack for languages. Anyways, it’s interesting that he makes this statement ‘cause he would later fulfill or make good on that promise by translating some of these other later Medieval texts.

And that text on solar revolutions since that time has been translated I think from the Arabic by others like Benjamin Dykes for example, so that now we have both. And that’s actually important because it allows us to understand and reconstruct some historical things about, for example, the use of house division by different astrologers and why there was a shift from the Arabic tradition where they were evidently using whole sign houses and quadrant houses at the same time. And we see, for example, in Ben Dykes’ translations, he points out how Abu Ma’shar is talking about using both of those systems of house division at the same time, but then eventually when those texts get passed off to the Renaissance tradition, we see this sort of complete shift just to quadrant houses and this loss or this forgetting about whole sign houses; and one of the things that may have happened is that there were differences in the Greek version of Abu Ma’shar’s text on solar revolutions versus the Arabic translation. And that’s one of the reasons why it’s then valuable not just to have translations into English of the original texts in their original languages but also sometimes to do detailed studies of some of the other ancient or traditional translations of those texts as well at the same time. So it’s just interesting that Schmidt’s aware of that issue right now and setting an intention, and he would later fulfill that intention almost a decade later.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: —this work to have repercussions in the scholarly community—for example, having works translated from ancient Greek that have never been translated before—that actually people who are not astrologers would be interested in these translations?

ROBERT HAND: Well, there are two different communities outside of astrology that would be interested in this material. One group I am sure we will attract the attention of, the other one we may attract the attention of. Conventional classical scholars is the second group we may attract the attention of—yeah, that we may attract the attention of—but we’re not really counting on that. And that will be interesting if it happens but it isn’t our primary concern. The other group however is people who are students of symbolism, students of archetypal form, psychotherapists, creative artists, these areas—these people I think will be interested much more rapidly than the orthodox academic community because they are more concerned with the quality of the material than they are the source.

[end of video clip]

CB: So in terms of the academic community, I thought that was an interesting comment because they talk briefly about how the project might be received by the academic community. And it’s true that some of the Project Hindsight translations did influence some classics scholars who then cited some of the Project Hindsight translations and some of their later works so that there was some influence to a certain extent there. But for the most part though Schmidt, especially in later years from what I remember in interacting with him, always emphasized that it was really the astrological community that funded the project in the end. It wasn’t the academic community. It was just like everyday astrologers who were chipping in however much it was a month in order to subscribe to the translation series or who bought recordings or made donations or other things like that. So it really was funded by the astrological community and primarily impacted the astrological community, and there’s also different reasons for that. They did the preliminary translations, they did them on limited print runs. But because they never did the final translation series, because they never produced that—except for one book, which was Antiochus—I think that limited the impact and it limited the exposure of the texts and the awareness of the texts in subsequent years. And so, that’s kind of been made up for in recent years.

Even though the focal point of activity for Project Hindsight was really in the mid-1990s—they produced I think something like 30 translations of text primarily from Greek and Latin of ancient astrological texts and that was the majority, in terms of the actual translation project, of the output that was produced in terms of translations—luckily there have been other scholars over the course of the past 30 years that have come in and kind of picked up where Project Hindsight left off, you know, people like Benjamin Dykes who’ve translated a bunch of texts. More recently Levente László, with his HOROI project, is on Patreon where he’s basically crowdfunding the translation of a bunch of ancient Greek astrological texts, and you can sign up for it. Basically he puts out a new translation about once a week or two, and he just releases it immediately on Patreon. So he’s doing like a modern version of what they were doing with Project Hindsight but using the internet to do it.

And there have also been other academic translations of a number of different texts over the course of the past 30 years, like Mark Riley’s translation of Vettius Valens. There’s been a translation of Manetho. James Holden came in in the 2000s and 2010s and he published a huge amount of translations that he had done of different Greek and Latin and Arabic texts—well, primarily Greek and Latin texts. He’d been making translations for something like 40 or 50 years of his life, but he was just circulating them privately. And it wasn’t until the last 10 years of his life that all of a sudden he got all these translations published through the American Federation of Astrologers, and this was sometimes translating texts that had never been translated before, or in some instances they were ones that Project Hindsight had done, like Paulus Alexandrinus, but they were publishing Holden’s final version of that translation and they were making it available through online retailers like amazon.com and other things like that so that they’re widely available. Whereas the Project Hindsight translations were produced on a limited print run and then they were never republished again after that in those print versions, partially because Schmidt I think always wanted to do the final translation series.

And he maybe didn’t like the preliminary nature of a lot of the early translations because they didn’t reflect his later thinking, or because he was aware of some errors or mistakes in the earlier translations and different things like that, so he always put off republishing them basically under the premise that he would do the final translation series. But then he only ended up producing one volume of the final translation series which was Antiochus of Athens in 2009 and then no further books were ever published. So, yeah, there’s a tricky thing where on the one hand Project Hindsight produced a huge amount of texts in a very short span of time of just like a few years in the 1990s, but then it helped to kickstart or it helped to launch something that then a lot of other astrologers and historians and translators have taken part in over the course of the past 30 years so that it’s become much more of a community effort or it’s become something where many different people are participating in it at this point and it’s not necessarily as centralized as it was at this stage in the early 1990s where you have this like singular project of people that are trying to do it.

And even with that, in the early 1990s there were other people that were working along similar lines outside of Project Hindsight because the revival of Renaissance astrology had already begun in the mid-1980s in the UK, and there was already a lot of excitement from people going back and reading the texts of William Lily and other Renaissance astrologers, as well as other earlier translations that were available from Manilius and Firmicus Maternus that other academics had done at that point. So Project Hindsight became the focal point in the 1990s and it helped to kickstart interest especially in Hellenistic astrology which hadn’t had much interest up to that point, but then it’s sort of taken off over the past 30 years and become this much larger thing, and it’s become a much more prominent voice in the astrological community than it was back then when they started.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: —will they be finding in this material? Will they be finding indications of Greek patterns of thought that were not known before?

ROBERT HAND: Oh, actually much more artistic than that. For example, the Picatrix and the Liber Hermetis both have pictures—descriptions of picture representations of sections of the zodiac which allow you to get into the symbolism through a completely non-intellectual, nonlinear, non-rational means. You look at the pictures and sort of allow them to resonate in your mind. It’s a very New Age kind of approach, except of course it was done over 2,000 years ago.

ROBERT ZOLLER: There’s one other class of scholars who I think will probably also be interested in some, not all, but some of these texts. For instance, the Liber Hermetis at the very beginning contains this list of decans to which Rob was referring, and the list itself associates a particular god name with each of these decans. These god names are for the most part Semitic god names not Egyptian god names. So we run across the first decan of Aries, for instance, it’s associated with a god named ‘Sabaoth’. We also find a ‘Yaos’ which is clearly a corruption of Yahweh. Now scholars that are working in the field of Gnosticism in particular are gonna take note of this sort of thing and see interlinking between the astrological and the Gnostic movements.

[end of video clip]

CB: Which is kind of true. There’s been some discussion of that. I don’t think it was necessarily influenced by Project Hindsight, but there has been a lot of interesting work on Gnostic incorporations of astrology over the past 10 or 20 years. There’s one scholar I really like named April DeConick who’s written some really interesting papers on this topic. And I was thinking earlier this year about doing a podcast episode on astrology and Gnosticism at some point. So let me know in the comments if you would find that interesting or if that’s something I should do.

[start of video clip]

CAMERAMAN: This goes onto the cutting room floor.

JEANNE MOZIER: This is the nightmare in life. So do we have any questions from our audience here today that you’d like to address to ‘the Bobs’?

CAMERAMAN: For ‘the Bobs’.

[end of video clip]

CB: See, it’s like they had some sort of audience. It wasn’t very big—it was probably just 5 or 10 people—because in another video there’s more. But I’d really like to know what this event was. It seems like it was some sort of casual event. Maybe it was with local astrologers from Berkeley Springs, maybe there was an astrology group, ‘cause I think this was happening in Jeanne’s living room basically. But I would like to know more about this event if anybody happens to know anything about it.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: Oh, I know what I wanted to ask you about.

CAMERAMAN: Good thing. This audience is dead. Wake up. Wake up.

JEANNE MOZIER: One of the treatises that you’re going to be translating—I believe your December treatise is going to be on weather prediction. And it seems to me that you could find an entire group of people very excited that you actually came up with—

ROBERT SCHMIDT: The meteorologists, yes.

JEANNE MOZIER: And everybody else. I mean, weather is big business in America. There’s a whole weather channel on TV. Do you see yourself being invited on to do the morning weather?

ROBERT SCHMIDT: Who knows if it would come to that.

ROBERT HAND: I wouldn’t care to hold my breath waiting.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: However, there is material here which could just, historically speaking, be important for people doing weather prediction. Because the real early Greeks—we’re talking about the Greeks contemporary with Plato— even if they may have not been doing astrology of the horoscopic variety were clearly correlating meteorological events and the basic weather with the positions of the fixed stars, particularly the heliacal risings and settings of those stars. And this work by Ptolemy, which will appear toward the end of this year, in fact contains a catalog or a calendar in which every day of the Alexandrian year is correlated to a certain weather prediction. On the first day of Thoth, which was the beginning of their year, you can expect that the Etesian winds will begin to blow at a certain latitude, whereas there’ll be thunder and lightning over here and so forth. Now these were actually empirical observations that had been compiled over a number of centuries by leading Greek astronomers, contrary to what most of the academics would believe. These were the primary astronomers of ancient times. Eudoxus, Hipparchus, and so forth were all trying to correlate basic weather patterns with positions of the stars, particularly the heliacal rising and setting.

And so, there’s so much of this material that at least it could be compared to modern weather patterns. However, we would have to realize that the modern environment, the modern weather patterns are not solely influenced by natural events any longer because you have smoke stacks and all kinds of other things that are interfering with the natural pattern, so you would have to certainly compensate for anything like that. Plus, there may have just been climate changes and whatnot. But yet the fact that the Greeks did this with some regularity and some precision leads us to think that maybe this should be looked into again. But even Ptolemy himself said that it needed to be supplemented; the celestial weather predicting needed to be supplemented with actually more planetary material. You needed to determine where the major planets were at the same time as the stars were heliacally rising and setting.

ROBERT ZOLLER: But maybe the Syrians and the people in Israel would be interested in the Etesian winds.


AUDIENCE MEMBER: I have a question. I don’t know if it’s relevant or not. I was always told or kind of heard that the Church fathers always used astrologers and so on and then it fell in disrepute at some point. Would your scholarly work by any chance give respect again or honor to the astrologers that may have advised popes in ancient times or not?

ROBERT ZOLLER: Generally speaking, the term ‘Church fathers’ refers to the early Christian period, the first few centuries of the Christian period, and the popes of course are a separate group of guys. The popes in the 15th century and 16th century did use astrologers. For instance, Luca Gaurico predicted the ascension to the papacy of Alessandro Farnese and was made Bishop of two sees in Italy as a result of his successful prediction, but it isn’t something which is generally done as far as I know since that time, nor was it a big deal for popes to use astrologers in the Middle Ages, per se. Although some of the popes were astrologers or at least were facile enough in the mathematics and astronomy to be so. Gerbert, who became Sylvester II, is one of these fellas who’s reputed to have been a pope who was an astrologer, and also by some claimed to be a magician as well. As far as what we’re doing, it’s hoped that what we can do is bring about a certain elevation in the standard of astrology among astrologers and make people in the general public realize that there was far more to astrology and is far more to astrology than is generally thought to be the case. Perhaps that will have the effect of raising astrology to an acceptable science. Perhaps it won’t. But at least it will certainly make better astrology.

[end of video clip]

CB: That’s a super important point ‘cause I do think that something that they helped to accomplish was to raise the standards in the astrological community. So I wrote a note about this yesterday. I wrote Zoller’s statements about raising the standards of astrology and his statements about the popes on the one hand demonstrates what was kind of unique about this project—that each of these three people had a deep interest in the history of astrology and a lot of kind of nerdy academic topics that they were bringing into the astrological community that astrologers didn’t usually discuss up to this point. And while academics had been working on the history of astrology for a century at this point, not a lot of work had been done on the history of astrology in the astrological community itself at that point, aside from occasional exceptions to that, like the work of Nick Campion for example in the 1980s and 1990s and some others in his circle.

So, in fact, the traditional revival itself had only recently started in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s in the astrological community and it was running somewhat in parallel to a similar movement where astrologers were trying to go back to academia and get advanced degrees in order to raise the raise the standards within the astrological community and perhaps be seen as more legitimate by the general public. And to that point Robert Hand himself, for example, several years later in the late ’90s or 2000s, would actually go back to school to get his PhD with a dissertation on the work of the 13th century astrologer Guido Bonatti, which he eventually achieved. Additionally, at the same time of Project Hindsight, Kepler College was being founded as well, which was an attempt to create an accredited school for astrologers and, again, raise the academic standards within the astrological community.

So that school would only last for 10 years before Kepler would eventually lose their state accreditation because it was kind of pulled out from underneath them once the state started getting pressure, once they realized they had fully authorized a school for astrology basically. But Kepler and other things represented part of a general movement at the time that ran parallel to, and yet, was also strangely interconnected in some ways with the revival of ancient astrology. And there’s numerous other examples of different astrologers, who in the 1990s and 2000s, did the same thing and went back to school and got their degrees just like Robert Hand did. Demetra George was one person who went back to school and studied classics and got an MA in classics in the 1990s. Dorian Greenbaum went back and got her PhD. Nicholas Campion went back and got his PhD. Liz Greene also did the same thing. There was just a lot of different astrologers that did that and it was kind of running parallel to and sometimes connected, sometimes overlapping with the revival of traditional astrology, but sometimes just running in parallel to it, but it was all part of this effort to raise the standards in the astrological community over the course of the past 30 years, which I do think was successful in different ways.

It may not have been successful in the highest, most idealistic goal of legitimizing astrology, but I do think it served the dual role of, on the one hand, raising the standards within the astrological community itself and creating more discussions about the history and philosophy and origins of astrology so that we know our history better, we know where astrology came from better and what its original principles were better nowadays than we did 30 years ago. And then to some extent it also got more astrologers into academia and moving in those circles, which I think is also beneficial for a number of different, mainly academic reasons. But, yeah, so that’s allowed for more academic studies of astrology or more people to study astrology in an academic context than prior to 30 years ago. So that movement to some extent was successful in changing things in some ways even if it didn’t change everything, or at this point make astrology a completely legitimate thing in academia or something like that.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: Will we find astrologers are gonna need to go out and learn Greek philosophy and have a broader worldview so that they can absorb this material?

ROBERT HAND: I’d be a little reluctant to say that every astrologer has to go out and learn Greek philosophy, but I think an understanding of Greek philosophy needs to become much more widespread in the astrological community. A thorough knowledge of Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, or whomever is not exactly essential for a day-to-day counseling session. But at the same time if astrologers had a better philosophical foundation in these areas, they might be less easily caught up by skeptics, scientific types, debunkers and so forth who basically trip astrologers up in part because they get the astrologer operating from the modern worldview and then trying to defend astrology within it, whereas the correct practice is for the astrologer to be operating outside of the modern worldview and in the more ancient one in which astrology is not a problem.

ROBERT ZOLLER: Yeah, I would say that it’s not so much a matter that—

[end of video clip]

CB: And I think this is true to some extent. I do think astrologers and the way that they talk about astrology and the way that they conceptualize has changed partially due to the work, again, parallel work by astrologers like Jeffrey Cornelius and his book The Moment of Astrology, which was being published in the early 1990s and becoming really popular in the mid-1990s forward. That popularized and revived the ancient conceptualization of astrology, which is that astrology is a form of divination and is not necessarily a study of celestial causation—of like the planets zapping you with rays necessarily—but was instead seen more as a form of a causal divination, similar to the modern conceptualization of synchronicity to some extent; although that’s a whole other separate concept that in of itself is not actually fully descriptive of the ancient approach to viewing astrology as divination. So I think that’s a good point that astrologers are probably better prepared today to be able to deal with and talk about and defend astrology in a skeptical context, and that’s something I’ve tried to demonstrate on the podcast over the past few years by doing a few episodes where I’ve talked to and tried to explain astrology to a skeptic. And if you just Google that on my channel, you’ll find a couple of episodes that I did like that that kind of demonstrate how to explain astrology I think in a way that’s a little bit more defensible and understandable.

So is everybody in the astrological community fully prepared to defend astrology in that way or capable of it? No, not necessarily. And that is something that makes me nervous and that I think we do still need to work on a little bit, especially because astrology has had such a heyday over the course of the past seven years or so. And at some point that’s gonna probably drop off or not last, or there will probably be increased opposition to astrology at some point, and I do think astrologers should be a little bit more prepared for that than we probably are now and capable of having some of those discussions. Because the opposition to astrology has dropped off significantly over the past decade—partially due to issues in the skeptic community—astrologers are a little bit not as prepared to talk about and defend or explain astrology to people outside of the astrological community than they could be. But I think we’re in a better position now through the revival of ancient astrology because now we know more about the history and the conceptual origins of the subject, which puts us in a better position to actually explain it and talk about it in its totality than than a normal contemporary astrologer would have been like 30 years ago.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT ZOLLER: —astrologers should be told to go out and study this stuff. I don’t think it’s gonna be necessary. I think what’s gonna happen is that when they see what’s being done, they’re gonna want to go out and get this stuff. It’s gonna be a spontaneous sort of an affair.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: There’ll be a great amount of that in the notes to these books by the way, so it’s not as if you have to go take a course in it. I mean, we’re not talking about reading all the works of the ancients. I mean, to some extent it’s a matter of presenting the major concepts to people which will be presented and represented again and again, and I think they can be assimilated fairly readily in that fashion.

ROBERT HAND: As a matter of fact let me take the controversial position—it might not be controversial on this couch, but it might be controversial elsewhere—of saying that we strongly recommend they do not go out and take university academic courses in these philosophies because they have been systematically gutted by 18th and 19th century misunderstandings of what they really are about. What is actually much better for them to do is to encounter the philosophy through these books and then go and read the original books, hopefully with us steering them to the better rather than the worst translations—or maybe even at some point providing our own—so they can actually experience the philosophy on its native ground without being read through the positivistic and materialistic biases of the modern scholars.

JEANNE MOZIER: So obviously you who are doing—

[end of video clip]

CB: That was kind of a throwaway comment, but there was something a little important there, and I don’t know how to explain it. But there was a little bit of a tension with Project Hindsight—tensions in that what they were doing was kind of outside of the academic community. And even though they were drawing on much of the scholarship and research and insight of different academic scholars, especially in the history of science, they also were very cognizant of the fact that they were doing this outside of academia and they were neither expecting the support of academics nor were they necessarily wanting it, per se. But instead they viewed themselves, especially Schmidt, as renegades that were outside of academia to a certain extent, and I’m having trouble finding a way to articulate that. But I thought this comment by Hand was interesting because that would become a somewhat central thing, especially for Schmidt, but I think it’s already there evidently at a relatively early stage.

On the one hand, I just had that discussion about astrologers going into academia and how that was a parallel thing in the astrological community, but there was a tension because Project Hindsight, and Schmidt especially, had this philosophy that academics would never accept astrologers and what we had to do was just create our own thing outside of the academic tradition in the astrological tradition itself, and our own schools and our own programs for teaching people how to think, something that he was very big on. So that’s probably a whole topic in and of itself to talk about, like the pros and cons of that and some of the ways that that was like a good idea in some of the ways it wasn’t. But it’s interesting that already in this early stage of Project Hindsight the seeds of that idea are there through an awareness that they are operating outside of an academic context and some of the pros and cons that come along with that.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: —translating are holding in your hands a responsibility that goes far beyond saying that ‘this word in Greek means this word in English’—that you must be versed not only as linguists but as philosophers to understand the background, and as astrologers to understand how to put it all together—so that what people are going to be getting is not just a literal translation of ancient books but truly a remarkable work that takes these original works and puts them in some sort of context and explains and interprets them.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: As a matter of fact all of us are quite steeped in philosophical issues and have read widely the original sources. So I feel that our prior training really allows us to deal with these philosophical issues—

[end of video clip]

CB: So that’s really important. Basically the summary of that is that Project Hindsight wasn’t just about the history or the techniques of ancient astrology, but they were also trying to revive and trying to show astrologers the earlier philosophical foundations of astrology and often how it was connected with other philosophical schools and traditions. And that was actually a big thing for each of these men in different ways, in different and sometimes unique ways, but sometimes overlapping ways.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT SCHMIDT: —with some success.

ROBERT HAND: We all have a curious strength—which would probably be viewed by mainstream society as a weakness—which is that it is a tendency of our culture to specialize to the ‘nth’ degree; the old joke being a specialist is a person who knows more and more about less and less until finally he knows everything about nothing. Well, we’re generalists. We have knowledge in a wide variety of fields. And the virtue of this is that we can actually look over this wide variety, see the interaction, and see the interplay without somebody saying, “Well, you can’t do this because you’re not trained in this field, you’re not trained in that field,” and so on and so forth. To do this work properly actually requires being this kind of a generalist. And we seriously question whether your typical university-trained scholar would have the overview necessary to put these things together.

JEANNE MOZIER: So we’re talking about an ecological point of view here where you recognize how all the things are connected together and are able to present them in some unified pattern.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: Yes, I would say so. I mean, the annotations in the booklets will reflect that continually. Some of them will be speculations too. Again, one feature of this translation program is that we are not trying to speak ex cathedra here. The idea is that we want to be free to speculate about things, that “I think that this means this,” and then in a later edition say, “I was wrong about that. It doesn’t mean that at all.” We would like to open up discussion, and we particularly would like to encourage responses from the people who are subscribing. This is very important to us. Not only does it help us do the work better, but it keeps us from getting stale. I mean, it’s easy to fall into a pattern and you say, “I think that this is what this is about,” and you keep following it through so you start ignoring other bits of evidence. But sometimes a kind of open reaction from people who don’t necessarily know much about philosophy can sometimes be very, very healthy for this kind of project. So when we say we want feedback from the readers, this is not just an advertising ploy, it’s really serious; at least it is for me.

ROBERT HAND: And me, too.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: As a matter of fact we’ve already had that from some of our people.

[end of video clip]

CB: So this is a super important point that Schmidt is making here, and it’s interesting how emphatically he’s stating it. But basically Schmidt knows that they’re gonna make mistakes, and he’s saying that he wants to be open to receiving criticism and also having discussions about the material in the community in order to understand it better. And that’s actually a core part of the process of Project Hindsight, especially in the early years, and that’s one of the great things about the early phases of Project Hindsight. So the early phases of the project were actually pretty open in terms of contributions from different people and different viewpoints and different traditions, and they openly solicited feedback from their readers and from their subscribers and from the community, and sometimes that would shape and impact things in important and notable ways.

So there are different eras in people’s thinking, and I know later on Schmidt would develop more firm ideas about his views on Hellenistic astrology. But I think in this phase, in the first few years of Project Hindsight, there was actually this remarkable degree of openness and this sense of community and idealism and all of these different things that were swirling around in the project that were very prominent. And so, it’s very interesting to see how emphatic Schmidt is about that and about that process, on the one hand, saying they want to open to making speculations or observations of what they think is happening in these texts as they’re translating them, but that they also know that they want to be open to being able to revise their thinking or to receiving feedback that maybe criticizes or pushes back against certain things or points out perspectives that maybe they’re not aware of or not thinking of, and that they think that that’s actually valuable. So that’s actually a really important point in terms of what the early phases of Project Hindsight were really like in terms of just narratives surrounding Project Hindsight. That’s why it’s important to hear what they were actually saying in these early years and to understand that sort of spirit of openness.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT SCHMIDT: I received a phone call from a person who is actually in our audience I believe at the moment, and he was responding to a rather scholarly article that I had written in ARHAT Journal which happens to discuss a lot of the sort of really abstract and somewhat difficult issues that come up in the translation project; that’s what its intention is. And this person had read this article and had responded to it from an astrological point of view saying, “There’s something here that isn’t consistent. In other words, you’re saying that there’s an Aristotelian way of looking at what the planet Venus and the planet Mars—or the planet Venus and the Moon does to the atmosphere, whereas it seems to me that isn’t consistent with astrological symbolism.” And this was very interesting as an interaction because it caused me to go rethink how I had translated that passage. And so, this is an exceptionally valuable way to have interaction with the readership. And so, we’re not trying to dictate, we’re just trying to open up.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I have another thought. If you got the attention—you were talking about the scholars, Rob, in the university—would there be hostility to what you’re doing? I was thinking about anytime there’s a breakthrough in science or medicine and it breaks with what they thought was the truth or the laws that were operating, and now you’re coming up with these. You’re not going for that kind of audience.

ROBERT HAND: I have no doubt we will be regarded as being exceedingly presumptuous and our credentials will be questioned right and left. And I have also no doubt that if we do attract their attention and are not instantly dismissed as being incompetent a priori that they will pick the translations apart left and right. Now the last move, picking the translations apart left and right, I think I can safely say our translators would welcome because it would give us something to respond to and possibly quite improve the translations. We’re not opposed to that. If, on the other hand, we are simply rejected out of hand—no pun intended—because we’re astrologers and not highly-trained university linguists and for that reason they condemn us, then I think the proper reaction and the reaction of the astrological community should be to ignore them.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I have another question for Rob. What is your vision? I heard you say something earlier today, that this is what you—

[end of video clip]

CB: In terms of the reaction of the academic community, there were occasionally some scholars that would cite the translations, I know there was a scholar named Michael Molnar in the late 1990s, for example, that wrote a book about the Star of Bethlehem—and he was very influenced and acknowledged the translations that Project Hindsight was producing, and he drew on those and thanked them for that—and some of the Project Hindsight translations were cited in some later academic texts, but for the most part I think there wasn’t a lot of, I don’t want to say impact on the academic community. It’s kind of tricky what the impact was. Basically there just wasn’t a lot of discussion partially because academia moves kind of slowly. Part of the way that Project Hindsight influenced the academic community was through astrologers, who after being inspired by Project Hindsight, would sometimes go back to school and learn ancient languages and get a PhD, and then they would start writing articles or books in an academic context which then would actually impact in some instances academic discussions surrounding the history of astrology especially.

So there’s a few different astrologers like that. I mean, Dorian Greenbaum was one person who ended up going back and getting a PhD, and then she’s done a lot of work on ancient astrology since then that’s influenced academic discussions; and she was an early Project Hindsight and ARHAT person that was involved in, or at least subscribed and attended some of those things. And there have been some others. Eduardo Gramaglia, for example, is somebody who in the early 2000s attended a Project Hindsight conclave and was inspired by it, and he went back and studied ancient languages and got a degree and then later also published a book in Spanish on Hellenistic astrology. So there’s some ways in which it did influence academic things in that context, but otherwise I think for the most part Project Hindsight—its primary influence was on the astrological community.

[start of video clip]

AUDIENCE MEMBER: —were born for, this work that you’re doing right now. And I’m curious as to what your vision is over the next 4 or 5, maybe even 10 years, where this is going. Perhaps you’ve said that already.

ROBERT HAND: Well, where the whole thing is going is a little hard for me to say clearly beyond what I’ve said already, but I’ll give you my plan.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, that’s good.

ROBERT HAND: Outside of being involved as editor of the translations, I see my role as being the conveyor of the material to the astrological community in such a form that it can really begin to digest it and integrate it into a contemporary practice. I’m not saying I’m the only one doing this, but that is a task I see for myself and anyone else who cares to take it on. One of the things I started doing before the project even began was writing an introduction of the astrological tradition of the West as it actually is rather than modern astrology, and I quickly began running into issue after issue where I simply didn’t know where things were really unclear. Let me give you a concrete example of one issue that is surfacing but I can’t yet say is fully proven.

[end of video clip]

CB: So Rob Hand just talked a little bit about his role as the frontman of Project Hindsight, as well as the one who could probably best translate this material to the astrological community and put it in a presentable form to make it understandable, which I do think was his primary role. Both that role and his commentary and notes in the introductions to the translations were super useful and super valuable; and also his role going out and being essentially one of the most famous astrologers in the astrological community at the time in the mid-1990s promoting the project and selling the astrological community on the idea that there was something valuable about reviving ancient astrology and going back and studying the ancient texts. But he’s talking about here in the long term that his primary value is gonna be as the one who can put all of this information—once they’ve translated all of it and revived the ancient techniques—in a presentable form and make it understandable, and in fact he did end up doing that with certain techniques.

For example, he wrote a little booklet on the concept of sect—the distinction between day and night charts—that was very influential and influenced some of the uptake of that technique, especially by astrologers like myself and others. He also wrote articles in The Mountain Astrologer Magazine and did lectures and eventually published a little booklet or a little pamphlet on whole sign houses. So he had a role in helping to promote that technique once it was recovered from doing some of the translations of some of the ancient texts like Paulus, which was their first translation. Right away in their first translation they made the observation that Paulus Alexandrinus seemed to be using the signs as houses, so that was one of the discoveries. And eventually, in one of the other interviews that’s contemporary with this that I have on another tape, it’s interesting because they’re looking at a chart together and he’s actually reading the chart using quadrant houses, and it wasn’t until later in the 1990s I think that Rob fully made the switch to whole sign houses after several years of first testing it out and trying it in practice and seeing how it worked in charts and things like that.

So it’s kind of interesting in terms of Rob’s chronology that he didn’t immediately adopt whole sign houses or some of these other techniques, but instead he went through this process of first recovering them through the translations and finding that these concepts existed and then starting to put them in practice and see how they worked in a contemporary context, and also in some instances synthesizing them with some of the techniques from modern astrology to see how ancient and modern astrology could work together. I do wish that he had ended up being able to follow through with some of that work because he would have otherwise been the guy who probably would have written either a great summary of ancient astrology, or he would have been the guy that would have written a great synthesis of modern and traditional astrology that probably would have been very influential.

But instead, after he left Project Hindsight in 1997, he went the academic route in the 2000s to get his degree, and so far at least hasn’t ended up writing an introductory text to traditional astrology. So instead that task ended up falling to people like myself and that’s why I ended up writing my book on Hellenistic astrology, or Demetra George and her two books on ancient astrology, or even others like Benjamin Dykes or Luis Ribeiro and Helena Avelar who wrote good books on the Medieval astrological tradition. So Robert Hand is supposed to have finished a revised edition of his book Planets in Transit, he said in an interview I did with him earlier this year, and that will probably represent a synthesis of modern and ancient astrology. So it’ll be really interesting to see what that looks like once that’s released. But it’s just interesting in terms of the chronology of how things worked out in terms of his plans then versus like 30 years later where things ended up sort of falling out.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT HAND: In astrology, from the Middle Ages and forward, a great deal of emphasis was placed on the qualities of the elements in the triplicities. Okay, this is something every astrologer is familiar with. Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are fire signs. Well, most modern astrologers simply say they are fire signs. But to a Medieval astrologer that meant they were hot and dry, and astrological medicine from the Muslim period through the Renaissance was based on these qualities. I’ve seen a great deal of evidence which suggests that the elements in the triplicities are not in fact elements made out of double qualities like that at all. See, there are two sets of four elements in the ancient world. There’s the Aristotelian set where every element is a pair of qualities, like fire is hot and dry, water is cold and wet, air is warm and wet, and earth is cold and dry.

Well, it appears that shortly after Aristotle, the Stoics redefined the elements, same four elements, but fire instead of being hot and dry was merely hot, earth instead of being cold and dry was merely dry, water instead of being cold and wet was merely wet, and air instead of being warm and wet was cold; total change. And the astrologers who were the first that we see using the elements for the triplicities appear to be Stoics. We don’t see Ptolemy, who is an Aristotelian, using the elements of the triplicities at all, not even implicitly. Whenever Ptolemy talks about elements, he’s talking about Aristotelian elements and he seldom does. He usually talks about hot, cold, wet, and dry. Well, the theory of the four humors, which is the basis of all Medieval and early Renaissance medicine, is directly related to this idea of the triplicities being made out of elements that consist of pairs of qualities. And now it turns out possibly that this was an error in the tradition and that consequently whatever validity the humor theory may have—and I think actually it may have quite a bit of validity as long as you’re not thinking mechanistically but psychosomatically—then it turns out that all diagnosis based on the horoscope using the emphasis on the elements of triplicities could have been wrong. And this would of course weaken the tradition right from the get-go because there’s a fundamental factual misunderstanding about the nature of the elements.

[end of video clip]

CB: Okay, so that’s actually a really important point. Very subtle, not everyone will understand it. So Hand is talking about the discovery that they made pretty early on in doing the translations—especially once they got to translating Vettius Valens is where they first talked about it, maybe in book one or maybe book two of Valens, in their commentary. They made the discovery early on that the version of the four elements and qualities associated with the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water, and the different qualities of hot, cold, wet, and dry that the early astrologers in the Hellenistic tradition seemed to have used the Stoic version of the elements rather than the Aristotelian version of the elements which became so prominent later on during the Medieval and Renaissance era. Which was actually a pretty major discovery in terms of the history and practice of astrology, although most astrologers aren’t widely aware of this because it’s mainly a disagreement between the early forms of traditional astrology and the later forms of traditional astrology where there was a discrepancy in the tradition that leads to a different conceptualization and a different way of practicing when you’re talking about the elements.

And this has a major impact on things like the humors and medical astrology, depending on what qualities you’re associating with the four elements, where especially the difference is that in the Stoic version the air signs are conceptualized as primarily cold, whereas in the Aristotelian version the air signs are conceptualized as primarily moistening or wet; and that’s a pretty big difference in terms of how you conceptualize it. It sounds like a subtle thing, but it’s actually a pretty major interpretive distinction in the astrological tradition. Anyway, if you want to know more about that, I wrote a section on that in my chapter on the signs of the zodiac, ‘cause I actually ended up making that a personal study of mine that I was super interested in and super intently focused on working out for a number of years. So there’s kind of an extended treatment of that topic in my book, in the chapter on the signs of the zodiac.

And then I think I also touched on it briefly in my paper on “The Planetary Joys and the Origins of the Significations of the Houses and Triplicities.” Which if you Google ‘Chris Brennan, planetary joys’, you’ll find a free paper that I posted online where I talk about that a little bit, and especially the discovery that I made with Benjamin Dykes about a decade ago, about how the elements came to be assigned to the specific signs of the zodiac that they’re assigned to. And that was kind of a major discovery, but it’s tied in with all of this. Anyways, Rob Hand is making a point that this is really important and it’s a major distinction in the tradition, and he’s drawing a conclusion then that it indicates a major error in the tradition and a major mistake. Although it’s interesting that immediately after this Zoller, who is representing the later Medieval tradition immediately rejects or objects and tries to present a counterpoint to what Hand is saying, or at least issue or encourage caution or slow things down.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: Do you think today that we may find ourselves in a place, five years from now when you have translated a total of a hundred of these various works, that we may find ourselves in a place where there is no tradition supporting what modern astrology is doing, and there’s a requirement to rewrite it or redo it?

ROBERT HAND: I don’t think it’ll be that bad, but I think we’ll have to rewrite and rethink an awful lot of modern astrology. Modern astrology is not so much wrong as it’s a small piece of the whole, and what we’ll do is put back the other pieces. There are some things like the elements of modern astrology that may be out-and-out wrong, but mostly I think it’s a matter of putting back pieces.

ROBERT ZOLLER: Yeah, this issue about the elements and humors—

[end of video clip]

CB: So that comment by Rob is interesting ‘cause he’s talking about the contrast between modern versus ancient astrology there. On the one hand, it’s kind of interesting, Rob’s views in the early 1990s, and how sometimes he was much more open about saying that certain things might be wrong in modern astrology. But later on in his career, especially by the mid-2000s, in a lecture I saw at Kepler College once that I might release at some point, he urged caution because he was concerned about a tendency towards fundamentalism that could sometimes come with the rise of traditional astrology or ancient astrology, and he urged sort of a synthesis or reconciliation of ancient and modern astrology in recognizing the positive points of both essentially. He had a lot of other things to say and it became tied up with the personal tensions that would eventually develop between Hand and Schmidt after they split up in 1997, and then their subsequent personal dispute kind of spiraling or snowballing into a public professional dispute. So it’s hard to fully extricate Hand’s views in terms of pushing back against fundamentalism ‘cause it was partially directed at Schmidt in terms of saying that Schmidt was being a fundamentalist later about Hellenistic astrology, or that at least there were certain aspects where he was concerned that it could head in that direction if it was not checked to a certain extent.

But it’s interesting Rob says something here that maybe some modern astrologers might object to, the idea that there’s certain things that don’t work in modern astrology or that he thought maybe weren’t valid or valuable. But that’s very much an approach Hand had always taken from his empirical perspective as an astrologer, which all astrologers take, which is that we all try to test out different techniques to figure out what works for us, and sometimes there were some techniques that Rob would do and he would come to the conclusion that it didn’t seem like a valuable technique to him. So I’m just bringing that up because it’s an interesting thing. And it was important for me because I ended up being influenced by some of those discussions, and that’s one of the reasons that I ended my book, in the conclusion, on the very last page, the way that I did.

I made a point that while the entire purpose of writing this 700-page book was obviously that I thought there was something valuable about recovering ancient astrology that would be useful for contemporary astrological practice, that I didn’t want that to be misconstrued as encouraging a form of fundamentalism in saying that ‘only the old ways were the good ways’ and that we had to go back to the past and stay there. But instead, I encourage people to go back to the past, find the things that were valuable about ancient astrology, and then bring them forward into the present to merge them with some of the good things about contemporary astrology and the good things about other traditions and viewpoints that exist. Because I think that’s actually what astrologers have been doing for thousands of years now and that’s even what Hellenistic astrology itself represented—a synthesis of different traditions and a blending of pre-existing traditional techniques from their time period that were ancient to them with some contemporary new innovations that were new at the time in the 1st century BCE. So I wanted to mention that ‘cause it’s just part of an ongoing process. It’s interesting to hear in some instances, especially from Rob Hand, some of his early statements reflecting some of that tension of reviving ancient astrology, but also what do you do then about modern astrology and how do you hold the two in each hand at the same time.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT ZOLLER: —elementata, or primitive qualities is an interesting question with regards to the development of astrology from the ancient period through the Middle Ages. Because you find, for instance, in Guido Bonatti’s Liber Astronomiae a description of the relationship of the elementata or the primitive qualities to the elementa, or the elements, which to some degree seems to support Rob’s analysis of the situation. But you have a very big body of medical lore quite apart from astrology which is thoroughly based upon the humors and elemental theory deriving not directly from the Stoics but from Galen and Hippocrates. In Greek science, Hippocrates being in the old direction and Galen’s work being the Greco-Roman period, which is still in fact the major medical system used in the Islamic world in areas like the Far East and in Afghanistan, so on and so forth. So before we get too certain about what’s happened here, we have to compare not just the astrological tradition, not just the philosophical tradition, but also their interface with the medical tradition as well.

ROBERT HAND: Yeah, I don’t think in fact that the—

[end of video clip]

CB: So that’s really important, or at least it’s just important as a historical note there. What’s happening here is Zoller is somewhat uncomfortable with or at least he’s urging caution with what Hand is saying because Zoller points out that the later Medieval and Renaissance astrological and medical traditions were very much based on the Aristotelian approach rather than the Stoic approach to the four elements that Hand was talking about as being the original way of talking about the elements. And so, this is important because this is an example of one of the early tensions that would arise from digging this material back up because it also unearthed some inconsistencies in the tradition where things had changed. And different astrologers and different practitioners, depending on what perspective they’re coming from, or specifically what form of traditional astrology they are specializing in or adopting or choosing to advocate, will have different opinions about which techniques to emphasize or how to use them.

So in this instance there’s a difference between, for example, how most of the Hellenistic astrologers used the four elements versus the way that most of the later Medieval and Renaissance astrologers used the elements. Or another one that would of course come up is that sect was used very much in the early Hellenistic tradition, but then it wasn’t used as much by the time of the late tradition in the Renaissance. We already know about the house division thing, that whole sign houses seemed to be very popular in the Hellenistic tradition, but then by the time of the Renaissance tradition quadrant houses was the dominant house system by that point. So in the process of recovering all these traditions and reviving them it accidentally ended up also reviving, or at least highlighting or creating some tensions between different practitioners depending on which tradition they ended up emphasizing or focusing on. And this is an early instance of that where Hand is talking about the earliest astrologers who talked about the four elements and applied them to the signs of the zodiac who used one approach, but it’s causing tensions because Hand is saying something strong—that that original approach was the correct one and that the later approach must have been mistaken. And it’s immediately creating a tension ‘cause the guy sitting next to him, Robert Zoller, is somebody who practices the later approach from the Medieval and Renaissance tradition. And so, Zoller is kind of urging caution before going too far there because he says that a lot of the later tradition was based on this alternative approach.

So I’m not gonna get into who’s right or wrong or if there is a right or wrong. Actually I do have pretty strong opinions about that ‘cause I do think the Stoic approach was the original approach. And that’s something I’ve tried to demonstrate and tried to revive actually because it’s been out of practice for over a thousand years now. So, for example, in the ‘zodiac’ series that we did last year on the podcast, where I did one episode per zodiac sign, I tried to emphasize the Stoic approach in order to show how that would work conceptually by talking about the air signs as being cold, or the water signs as being moistening or wet as opposed to the fire signs which are hot or the earth signs which are dry. So even though it seems like an abstract philosophical issue, it can show you how for astrologers it can have major impacts in terms of how you speak about things as basic as the signs of the zodiac because it really alters some of the basic concepts underlying the signs of the zodiac and what their primary keywords are. Anyway, it’s just interesting as an early example of some of the tensions that would arise in the astrological tradition through recovering all these ancient traditions.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT HAND: —discovery that—or rather the potential discovery that seems to be looming here about triplicities is actually going to disturb the humoral theory of medicine particularly so much as it disturbs the attempt to diagnose from a horoscope using the humoral theory. And it’s that interface between astrology and medicine that this challenges, not the actual medical method.

JEANNE MOZIER: Much of modern astrology today has moved into the computer field where people are able to do intricate pieces of work that they—

[end of video clip]

CB: Actually I’m gonna pause for just a second and go get a drink ‘cause I ran out of water. I will be right back in like three minutes. So I’ll be right back.


CB: All right, I am back. I’m ready to resume. I did want to give a shoutout to the live chat. Thanks everyone for joining me in the YouTube live chat today. It’s been great seeing some of your comments I’m reading through as we go through and talk, or as I go through and watch this. I wanted to ask everybody to think about some questions that you might have for once we get to the end of this. And I think once the video’s done playing, and I’m done doing the commentary, I’ll have some time to answer some questions. I may not be able to get to all of the questions, or there may be some questions I feel more like going into or not, but start thinking about and formulating some questions. And then once we get to the end, I’ll uh basically ask everybody at that point. So hold your questions until then, and then I’ll see if I can answer some at the very end of this. All right, so let’s get back to work.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: —never would have been able to do before computers ‘cause the calculation time would have been just unacceptable. When you talk about the ancient astrology, does it lend itself to computerization? Does it have its little defined boxes, or is it much vaguer? I mean, how will it translate?

ROBERT HAND: Actually I can answer that question very clearly because I’ve already begun working on it, being a computer programmer among other things. The answer is it is much more ‘computerizable’ than modern astrology because it has much more definite procedures for doing things. There’s much less room left for impressionism, intuition, and fudging. It’s still going to require a great deal of intuition to actually turn a collection of squiggles on a page consisting of the horoscope into a concrete analysis of a person. But we already have some of our software printouts that break the chart down into dignities and debilities according to a Renaissance technique that is really a pain to do by hand. Not impossible, just a pain. And there it all is laid out and you can immediately start applying techniques like this very rapidly, so I think this is actually an extremely ‘computerizable’ system. Hindu astrology has the same peculiarity. It’s very, very ‘computerizable’ because, as I said, there are definite techniques for going from A to Z. Now we may have to adjust these techniques, but they’re there.

ROBERT ZOLLER: On the other hand, one can also say for those people who are not inclined to use computers, and particularly for those who are somewhat gun-shy of mathematics and arithmetic, that Medieval astrology in particular lends itself to simplified mathematical methods. The whole thing is, wherever possible, symbolic and just a matter of counting. It’s quite different from the ‘19th century style, primary directions-based, Placidian, mathematically-intensive and very scary to many people’ astrology. It’s something which is user friendly, to be a little bit anachronistic in my medical.

ROBERT HAND: As a matter of fact, when I say the stuff lends itself to computerization, I agree with you. It isn’t usually mathematics the computer is doing, it’s just simply doing table look-ups for you fast. It is quite possible to do it by hand and infinitely easier than doing the kind of astrology you were just talking about, which isn’t even easy on a computer.

[end of video clip]

CB: Yeah, it’s really interesting hearing them talk about this. And in a separate video, at the end, there’s a like a short clip of the three of them sitting around in front of this ancient little Macintosh computer from 1993, looking at a chart. And it is interesting thinking about how far things have come in terms of astrological software since that time, pros and cons. There’s been some major developments and advancements in some ways in that we can do tons of stuff now that we couldn’t do back then. For example, in 1993, ‘94 or ‘95, when they first recovered zodiac releasing, there were no programs that could calculate it. But nowadays we’ve got tons of different websites and most of the major software programs will all calculate zodiac releasing for you in some form or another. Even astro.com will calculate it for you for free.

So we’ve come a long way in terms of the ability of different astrological programs to calculate some of these techniques, as well as basic stuff like sect or the rise of whole sign houses and the ability to have that calculated as an option in different software programs. That’s something that wasn’t there even until relatively recently. For example, astro.com didn’t integrate whole sign houses in their website until I think it was 2008-2009. Alois Treindl, the founder of astro.com, attended one of my lectures in 2008 at the United Astrology Conference, and afterwards he was like, “Okay, I’ll finally [some somewhat reluctantly] integrate it so you can use whole sign houses as an option on astro.com,” which was pretty cool. But it’s been 30 years, so we’ve come a long way from this point. If you just think about the limited options that they had in terms of chart calculations and calculation software and everything else to what we have today, it’s really been quite amazing how far we’ve come.

[start of video clip]

JEANNE MOZIER: Do we have any other audience questions here?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: What was the reason these books weren’t translated before, if there’s so much valuable philosophic material in there? Was it just prejudice against astrology?



ROBERT ZOLLER: He says ‘yes’, I say ‘no’.


ROBERT ZOLLER: All right, before is perhaps the point in which Bob and I would differ on this, where the ‘before’ happens. If we place the ‘before’ in the 19th century, the reason is largely because of the change in the nature of society, the change in the nature of education that occurred in the 19th century. You had the rise of industrialism and that necessitated an entirely different viewpoint in terms of education, how people were educated and how much emphasis was placed, for instance, upon classical languages. Then on top of that you had the whole scientific and Enlightenment attitude that moved people out of the area of astrology entirely. The latter part of it is a matter of prejudice, there’s no question about that, but the former part of it is a matter of the selectivity. There were different designs or needs of the society as a whole, so there weren’t as many people around who had any ability to get into these older texts.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: Although most of the texts were translated into Latin. Most of the Greek texts were translated into Latin in the 1500s and so forth. And it’s a bit of a mystery to me why it didn’t create a kind of astrological renaissance at that time the way the translation of Greek mathematical writings created sort of a mathematical renaissance and scientific writing was creating a scientific renaissance. But for some reason it didn’t quite happen with the astrological material.

ROBERT HAND: I can offer a theory.


ROBERT HAND: I don’t think astrology in the Renaissance had quite the sense that the other sciences had of being a broken tradition. Now, in fact, it was a broken tradition, but I think astrologers felt they were in fact in possession of most of the important information, so that what you find in the Renaissance is astrologers citing other Renaissance astrologers and Ptolemy but not too many of the other people.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: It could be that. And also, in the mathematical area, for example, the people in the Renaissance were able to point to very clear cases in which the ancient techniques were superior to the ones they had. I mean, just unequivocally certain Greek mathematicians were able to solve geometrical problems that the people in the Renaissance simply couldn’t solve, and as a matter of fact would tend to consider impossible in some way, but the Greeks were able to do that. But in astrology you wouldn’t have unequivocal evidence of the superiority of ancient astrology. You wouldn’t have some example of something that somebody had been able to do better. So the idea that there had been a wiser age of astrologers would not have quite such a profound effect on people at that time, so that seems to be supporting what you do along with your—

ROBERT ZOLLER: The paradox is the—

[end of video clip]

CB: I don’t fully understand why they’re emphasizing this point too much, and I’m not sure it’s fully true. And I wonder if Schmidt would still say the same thing later on, specifically the point about these texts being available or being translated into Latin in the Renaissance and just being available, because one of the things is that they didn’t have all of the texts from the earlier Hellenistic tradition available during the late Medieval period or during the Renaissance. They did have some. And, in fact, in the instances where they did have access to earlier texts like Ptolemy, you can see authors like Lilly, if there was a discrepancy in the tradition, he would almost always default to doing what Ptolemy said because Ptolemy was his oldest source that he had in his possession from the 2nd century.

So it’s like they would default to the older tradition or had a tendency to when there was a discrepancy, but they didn’t have access necessarily or there wasn’t widespread access to Valens. There wasn’t widespread access to Paulus Alexandrinus or other astrologers that wrote in Greek. Instead, the primary texts that were available were like Ptolemy, Manilius, and maybe Firmicus, but that’s about it from the Hellenistic tradition. So that’s one of the reasons I’m a little unclear why they’re emphasizing this point, and I don’t think that’s necessarily true that they had access to everything during the Renaissance period, but that it didn’t impact them or something like that. There’s something a little questionable about that. So, yeah, I just wanted to mention that. I’m trying to look at my notes to see if there’s anything else I meant to mention about that, but I think that’s it, or at least a caution I guess to think about.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT ZOLLER: —the great astrologers, from the point of view of the Renaissance, were 9th century Arabic fellas like Abu Ma’shar.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: That’s right.

ROBERT ZOLLER: And they had Abu Ma’shar’s work. There’s no question about that.

ROBERT SCHMIDT: But in more modern times, these texts, these edited texts have been available all throughout the 20th century, but the problem is they were not in the hands of astrologers.

[end of video clip]

CB: In the live chat—I don’t know how to pronounce your name—but Fëanen says, “Greek texts like Valens and Hephaistio came into Western European collections around the fall of Byzantium, by which point the Islamicate sources were around for centuries and quite popular.” Right. And I think that’s the important point. Although it’s like Valens or Hephaistio, or even Paulus—because I’ve seen, for example, not Ficino, but Ficino’s student, the skeptic of astrology, draws on part of the text of Paulus Alexandrinus that he evidently read in Greek for his big critique of astrology. I can’t think of him right now. It’s like the biggest critique of astrology that’s ever been written. But one of the points is I don’t think those texts were widely available, and so that’s one of the issues. Lilly, for example, cites a bunch of his sources and the books that he was drawing on, and he doesn’t cite Vettius Valens or Hephaistio or Paulus Alexandrinus or people like that.

So even if some of these manuscripts existed or survived in Europe, I don’t think there was a widespread availability of these texts in the same way as in the 20th century. Even though there were critical editions of some of these texts in Greek and Latin of the different astrological texts from ancient times, because they weren’t translated into modern languages, they just weren’t accessible widely to most astrologers. And so, they didn’t have much of an impact until you had translation projects like Project Hindsight come along and translate them into contemporary languages. So I think that’s—yeah, Pico della Mirandola is who I’m thinking of. That’s right. Thank you. I appreciate your comments. All right, let’s go back to it.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT SCHMIDT: I mean, they were just in the hands of academic scholars who were doing even the text editing for reasons that had nothing to do with astrology. Usually they were trying to find something about the history of astronomy that they could find in the astrological texts. Occasionally they were interested in cultural matters—what was Egyptian temple life like or something like that—but there were always ulterior motives. Nobody ever read the texts on their own for their own sake just to see what they have. And we think it’s very important never to prejudge a book in that way.

ROBERT HAND: I have a point I want to make about this. There have actually been a few astrologers in recent times who have read some of these books. One of the things that Project Hindsight is going to be a corrective to is the attitude of these astrologers—I won’t name names ‘cause quite a few of them are still alive.

JEANNE MOZIER: But not in this room.

ROBERT HAND: But not in this room.

JEANNE MOZIER: Certainly not on this couch.

ROBERT HAND: There are a number of people who have written about ancient and classical astrology in modern times who have done so just dripping with superiorities, “If only modern astrology understood the profound wisdom of the ancients.” And you can just sort of see as footnotes underlying the whole text written in visible, “I can read this stuff. You guys can’t. You’re all ignoramuses.” What we’re here for quite frankly is a democratization of this process. After we’re finished with our work, if astrologers are ignorant of the ancient material it’ll be by choice. But the fact of the matter is these people who have read some of the ancient works were by and large lucky that they had access to the material. They were in a town with the right library nearby. They had the right connections. A few of them have done translations which are creditable and do democratize the process, although there’s one translation in particular I can think of that’s currently in print, you have a hell of a time getting out of its publisher even though it’s an astrological source. And just generally speaking, astrologers made the tragic mistake of using this to establish their own superiority over other astrologers rather than sharing the information with the community. This is not something we are going to do.

ROBERT ZOLLER: Right at the beginning of the reintroduction of astrology into Western society—

[end of video clip]

CB: Okay, so that’s really important. So there’s a few points there. One, before Hand started talking, I think there was a point that the text they were translating had been available to scholars for a century, but they hadn’t been available in translation to astrologers. So that’s a really important point in terms of what they were doing. The other point is I don’t know who Hand is actually referring to where he’s talking about contemporary astrologers that were like small individuals that maybe had access to texts but then adopted an attitude of superiority to them. I think he might be referring to Cyril Fagan and some of the siderealists. He could be talking about maybe Rudhyar. But I don’t think Rudhyar had training in classical languages, so I don’t think it was Rudhyar. Although certainly there were ‘Rudhyar’ types that ended up adopting a much more tone of superiority about modern 20th century astrology over ancient astrology, but I’m actually otherwise curious who Hand is alluding to here. But the main point that’s actually important is that Hand states that they have a much more idealistic mindset of just making everything available to astrologers and democratizing the tradition.

And that’s pretty amazing if you think about it. There was something very idealistic about that, sort of like how the internet was actually just emerging in parallel at the same time. We’re talking like 1992-1993. Ironically, the major outer-planet alignment or planetary alignment that I always noted as important that was happening at the time was the Uranus-Pluto—or Uranus-Neptune conjunction happening at the same time in 1992 and 1933 as Project Hindsight was getting started. And that was always something that I noticed when I first got into Hellenistic astrology and was living at Project Hindsight, so I actually took it back in history and I found that something similar to Project Hindsight would happen at almost every Uranus-Neptune conjunction. About every 175 or 180 years, you would get these translation projects where astrologers would go back into the past and they would start translating ancient texts and recovering the tradition, and then they would merge or synthesize it with whatever the prevailing tradition or paradigm was at the time. And this goes back 2,000, almost like 3,000 years into the tradition—you can follow this cycle—and I’ve done talks on it before in the past. I think I sell one of those talks on my website, I’m not sure if I still do. But if not, I’ll have to do a podcast on it one of these days to show you ‘cause it’s a really striking parallel.

But anyways, my point is that there’s something very idealistic about what they were doing with Project Hindsight, and the early ethos of Project Hindsight was to make the entire tradition available to everybody so that you didn’t have to have the training of a classic scholar, that you didn’t have to know ancient languages in order to read the texts and in order to be able to draw on them and incorporate some of that work into your understanding of astrology. And there was something very idealistic about that and very important where they wanted this material to be available to everyone, and then everybody could then decide what they wanted to do with it, if anything. And there’s something very beautiful about that and very important, and I think at its core, to me, that’s always been the most important point about Project Hindsight. In the mid-1990s, during the height of the translation phase of the project, when they were actually producing translations, is this sense of almost generosity, this sense of exploring, of being these intrepid explorers—where they don’t really know what they’re going to find but they just have this sense that it’s important and it’s something they’re being called to do, so they start translating these texts and finding things as they go—and this sense of making the tradition available again to the as astrological community, almost to some extent as a community service in some sense.

So I do think things changed at a certain point later in the history of Project Hindsight, in like the 2000s and 2010s, and there was a shift away from the focus of the project as a translation project, that was trying to make the translations and the texts of the traditions widely accessible, and I do think there’s a way in which it became more closed-off, especially once the original three founders split up and left, with Zoller leaving in 1985 or so, and Hand leaving in 1997 or so. But that’s a story for a different day that I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell—the story of Project Hindsight in its totality—for a long time now, and I haven’t been sure how to approach it. And that’s one of the reasons I haven’t yet until recently, until this basically, until this year.

But I did want to emphasize that point because I always thought there was something incredibly idealistic about what they were doing by democratizing the tradition, by making it available to astrologers again to read through these translations, and by making that a community effort that was not just funded by the astrological community, but where they were also openly soliciting comments and feedback and even criticisms from the community at the same time and helping to host some of those discussions. So that, to me, has always been the best part of Project Hindsight, and it was the thing that I drew on when I went there for two-and-a-half years and lived at Project Hindsight from 2005 to 2007. The primary thing that that gave me access to was it gave me access to all the translations that they had produced at the time, which was I think 30-something translations. And a lot of what I did was just sit down almost immediately and start reading through those translations word-for-word, understanding what Project Hindsight had uncovered.

And one of the things I was surprised about is that very few astrologers in the community up to that point by 2005 had actually taken the time to do that. Many astrologers found them too difficult or didn’t understand what they were saying. Or even though maybe they supported the idea of the project initially, they were more comfortable with their approach to astrology as it stood today and found it too difficult to change their approach or change really foundational things about their approach because what we were finding in the Hellenistic tradition was sometimes radically different from modern contemporary astrology. But the biggest hurdle I think is just that most people don’t have the sort of, not aptitude, but just the ability to sit down and read an ancient text and understand what it says, and it kind of takes a special mindset to a certain extent. I mean, everyone can do that. Everyone that can read can do that to a certain extent. But I do think there’s different, I don’t know, constitutions or something that may be more suited for that, and it was something that I found myself that I particularly enjoyed and felt like I was good at in terms of reading comprehension and things like that.

So that was one of the things that I did starting in 2005 when I got there. And that’s why I eventually realized I needed to write a book on this because I needed to write an overview of everything that had been found up to that point about what Hellenistic astrology was and what it looked like as a tradition, or in some instances what it looked like as a system. And that’s what I ended up finishing after 10 years of working on my book and publishing in 2017, but it was all largely based on reading the translations. And what’s interesting is sometimes when you read the translations sometimes you come to the same conclusions as the translators, or I would come to the same conclusion as Schmidt or Hand. Or sometimes there would be other instances where I came to a different conclusion and I could see what they were saying about it, but sometimes I would see the text differently and have my own interpretation.

But that’s what was so cool about the early phases of Project Hindsight. By doing the translations like they did and by setting this spirit of openness of being not just completely open in terms of releasing the translations to the public, but also releasing their commentary and their speculations about them, they allowed people to engage with that material in a way that had never been done before. And I think that’s hugely important and is worth respecting and acknowledging how important that was and how that’s subsequently changed and has shaped the astrological tradition over the past 30 years because of what they did.

[start of video clip]

ROBERT ZOLLER: —in the 1870s particularly, the early 1900s, the Theosophical Society played a very major role in this transmission of astrology into the society. They weren’t alone but they really goosed it up quite a bit. In this country they were abetted very largely by 30 or 40 years of Transcendentalism that had happened prior to the rise of the Theosophical Society where an interest was redeveloped in astrology. But the philosophical and moral preferences of the Theosophical Society led them to adopt a peculiar attitude towards what kind of astrology they were going to talk about, what kind of astrology they were going to promulgate, and what kind of astrology they would support. Though the Theosophical Society was founded in New York in 1875—Americans always tend to be pretty Eurocentric really—it wasn’t long before the Theosophical Society relocated its main offices to London and then over to Adyar in India. And the English domination of the content and direction of Theosophy has the effect of increasing the Calvinistic preferences of the Theosophical Society over what kind of astrology they’re gonna talk about. So right there you have kind of a censorship, not necessarily an intentional one, but a certain preference and direction that the whole tradition went in.

JEANNE MOZIER: So to bring us back to where we began for all of our audience, we are standing at a major threshold in astrology where not only are we getting enormous amounts of information from what could be called all new discoveries—talking about quasars, talking about asteroids, talking about all kinds of new astronomical pieces of data that we couldn’t have known about because we didn’t have the instruments to know about it—and that’s bringing in new energy and dealing with how to interpret that and how to integrate that into working with individuals. And then at the same time, as you say, you are democratizing the past and bringing it forward and putting it in people’s hands so that astrologers of today, as opposed to astrologers even 20 years ago, will have this incredible array—

ROBERT HAND: Even three years ago.

JEANNE MOZIER: —will have this incredible array of information available to them that will take them from ancient Greece to the 21st century. And hopefully the ferment that comes out of finding the synergy and how one blends those pieces of information together will indeed take us to that astrological renaissance that didn’t happen in the 1500s, that hopefully will be happening with the work that you’re doing here with Project Hindsight. And I think that all of us can say as astrologers who will be benefiting from this, thank you for your work, for your foresight in putting together Project Hindsight, and for dedicating your talents and your whole accumulation of life knowledge to handing to all of us some remarkable pieces of information that could have never been known otherwise.


[end of video clip]

CB: Yeah, that’s amazing. That’s a great ending. And Jeanne was right—they were standing at a major threshold in the history of astrology, and a renaissance did eventually happen where astrology has taken off and become such a popular thing over the course of the past decade. And while that is not necessarily due to Project Hindsight or due to the revival of traditional astrology, the revival of traditional astrology started in the 1980s partially with astrologers working in the UK reviving the Lilly tradition, partially with astrologers working in the US that were reviving the Hellenistic and Medieval tradition, and even other astrologers in other countries, like in Italy with Beza who was doing translations of texts from Greek and Latin into Italian—all these different things are components in bringing us to where we’re at with astrology today, 30 years later.

Like I said at the beginning, this was recorded in July of 1993 when Saturn was in late Aquarius and early Pisces. And here we find ourselves back there with Saturn I believe at like 2 or 3 Pisces today; so almost an exact Saturn return 30 years later. And, yeah, astrology has grown and thrived a lot in ways that maybe they couldn’t have even expected or anticipated way back then, and I do think part of that is that the quality of astrology has been raised over the course of the past 30 years. And one part of that is the revival of this interest in ancient astrology, the recovery of some of those techniques, the recovery of the history of our astrological traditions so that we actually know much more about where astrology came from and how it got started and what its theoretical principles are than we did prior to 30 years ago, and also due to raising the academic rigor of astrologers, as well as their desire to think about astrology at a deep or more complex level in terms of not just the techniques and the practice, but also the philosophy of what we’re actually doing and what the principles are underlying it.

So I don’t want to overemphasize things—because that’s one of the issues sometimes when it comes to the history of things and that’s why I keep repeating that it wasn’t just Project Hindsight—but there were a number of different individuals in different places, in different countries that contributed to the revival of traditional astrology and that the revival of traditional astrology had already started in the previous decade with the revival of Lilly and other texts in the UK. But I think Project Hindsight did make a major contribution that has gone on to influence the astrological community and the tradition in some very notable and very distinct ways, and some of the techniques like sect or zodiacal releasing or other things like that probably wouldn’t exist or be as popular in contemporary practice today if they hadn’t come along; or it would have taken much longer for those techniques to be recovered because we would have been waiting on these individual translations of different academics that might have done them at different points in time over the course of the next few decades.

And so, what happened here is that in a very short span of time essentially—between 1993 when they published their first translation and I want to say about 1997 or so, which is when Hand left—they produced just this huge amount of texts, like 30 translations or so, and that supercharged the revival of ancient astrology and the revival of of traditional astrology in a way that’s very distinct and very important and has a number of ways that it influenced the tradition in ways that are possibly even imperceptible today, but nonetheless that Project Hindsight helped to fuel or helped to get going.

All right, so everybody, if you have questions, put them in the live chat now, and I’ll see if I can answer some now that we’re at the end of this. Final remarks besides that—like I said, just to reiterate, I haven’t known how to talk about Project Hindsight for years because there were some positive things, a lot of positive things that we’ve talked about here with Project Hindsight, but there were also some not-very-good things, or there were some challenging things that came up with different things. Sometimes there were issues in terms of the falling out between Robert Hand and Robert Schmidt and how that split the community in different ways and how that originally started as a personal dispute that snowballed into a professional one.

There were issues in terms of business practice things that were not very good, or sometimes disagreements about the Hellenistic tradition and what it was or how to talk about it, or how to promote it and different things like that that have been tricky ‘cause I haven’t known how to talk about them for a long time, especially after Schmidt passed away in 2018 or Zoller passed away in 2020; I don’t want to go too far in either direction, on the one hand, and do only positive things and do like a hagiography, which is when you grant somebody sainthood, and you say only good things about a person and you never acknowledge any of the negative things or any of the blemishes or drawbacks. The other thing that can happen is you can go too far in the other direction where you focus only on the negative things or you magnify the negative things out of all proportion and paint somebody as only being negative. But people are complicated, history is complicated—there’s a lot of different positive and negative things that happen in anybody’s life or at any one point in time. And so, figuring out how to treat that carefully and respectfully and to balance those different sides of the positive and the negative, or the light and the dark, has been part of something I’ve been trying to think about and figure out how to do for a number of years now.

But part of my goal with my work and with The Astrology Podcast is to document the history of astrology. And because I had become directly involved in and knew some of the principal founders of Project Hindsight, or the fact that I lived there for two years—and I lived with Schmidt, that I lived with Zoller also for a year who came there for a period of time in 2006 and 2007—or that I know Hand and have had Hand on the podcast a number of times puts me in a unique position to try to document some of this recent history; and because it’s been a Saturn cycle, it feels like it’s time to start doing that. Also, I realized recently this year if I don’t, that it allows, in the absence of any documentation, for other sort of weird narratives and agendas to be able to sort of take over and sort of flourish just in the absence of anybody else trying to set the record straight.

So that’s why when I came across and was able to get this video digitized recently, very recently, I realized I should probably release it as part of the historical record, but also add some commentary in order to start building towards some of the documentation of the revival of traditional astrology over the past 30 years that I’ve been meaning to do as part of my work as an astrologer who’s not only contributing to that revival but who also as a historian wants to document it firsthand as it’s happening. And especially now that we’re starting to get some space from it and after a Saturn cycle, we can see the results of some of this work 30 years later.

So I’ve been doing some of that already on Patreon through a podcast series that I released called The Casual Astrology Podcast through my page on Patreon. I’ve been talking about and doing some episodes already where I talk to different astrologers that had firsthand experience and doing what I call ‘an oral history’ of Project Hindsight and just building up some interviews that I’ll eventually turn into put together to produce something more definitive at some point in time. I’m not sure if I’m there yet, but I’m at least starting to take steps with videos like this to try to document some of this history and to put it out there, so that now the community has this video and it will be preserved. And now people have the ability to see firsthand a little bit more what it was like, and what the project—how it was being pitched and described to the astrological community and just the reality of the words of the principal founders way back then when they were founding it. And, yeah, I think that’s what my goal here was today in releasing this video and doing this commentary.

All right, so let’s look at some questions. So it’s been bouncing back and forth between I think 180 and 200 live viewers during the course of this livestream. So thanks everybody for joining me. This has been fun. It’s been great doing this with you and going on this little journey together. Of course it ended up being longer than I expected, but when you’re doing a commentary you’re playing not just the video but also recording things in between and it always ends up getting longer than you think. All right, so let me scroll through and see if there’s some good questions that I feel like I have a good answer to, which I may not with all of them.

Okay, so Christa de Mayo says, “How much work is still left undone from the original Project Hindsight aspirations? Are there texts left over that are in mid-translation?” So that’s a really good question. It’s a little tricky. I just want to pull up a website here. Okay, so what was left undone? So they translated a bunch of texts and it really depends on what tradition you’re talking about because like I said there is the Hellenistic tradition, which is the Greek tradition from roughly the period of the Roman Empire, there’s the Medieval tradition where they were writing in Arabic and Latin, and then there’s the Renaissance tradition where they were writing in Latin, and then eventually other European languages like English.

So Schmidt translated a huge amount of texts. I’m actually shocked at how many texts. It’s something I always struggled with in the mid-2000s when I got to Project Hindsight because I didn’t understand the huge amount of translations they had done in the mid-‘90s and how that was possible. Because when I was at Project Hindsight, one of the things that I noticed is that Schmidt struggled to bring projects to completion, to finish things, partially because he had very high standards not just for other people but also for himself. He had the ability to see the flaws in something very clearly, and as a result of that he had a recurring thing throughout his life where he had a really hard time finishing projects, and it often got him into trouble or into issues in different ways.

So given that, and given my awareness of that and seeing some of the different projects that were stalled or kept continuously getting stalled with Project Hindsight in the mid-to-late-2000s and forward, I was always surprised and didn’t understand how many translations they produced in the mid-1990s. Although I guess it just had something to do with the pressure of creating this subscription service essentially and needing to fulfill and needing to do it. It probably also had to do with something about the synergy between Schmidt and Hand or between Schmidt and Hand and Zoller in the beginning. That’s one of the things I love about this video is it really shows that they each have these different complementary qualities and backgrounds that actually work really well together. And while some of those tensions eventually would grow and develop that would lead to Zoller splitting in 1985 and then Hand splitting in 1997, there was something really special about their backgrounds I think that created a perfect mixture for what they did in this relatively brief span of time in the mid-1990s, from about 1993 to 1997. So to make a long story short, those were preliminary translations. They weren’t supposed to be definitive. They’re also very hard to find.

You can sometimes find scans and stuff online, or you can find them in secondhand places. A lot of those translations at this point have been—I don’t want to say replaced—but there’s other versions of those translations now that have been done by other translators that are more widely accessible or easy to get a hold of. For example, the very first Project Hindsight translation that Schmidt showed off in the beginning of the video was Paulus Alexandrinus—it was that little translation of Paulus—but since that time there have been a few other translations of Paulus at this point. So Dorian Greenbaum did a translation at one point of Paulus, although that’s actually now largely out of print as well. She published that in like 2001. Hopefully she’ll republish it at some point soon because it was good. James Holden has published a translation of Paulus Alexandrinus that is now widely available. I think if you just Google ‘Paul of Alexandria’ on Amazon you’ll see Holden’s translation. And now more recently, I think Levente László has produced or is working on a translation of Paulus Alexandrinus through the HOROI Project.

And I just wanted to mention that and give a shoutout to it again. Let’s see—I’m having trouble pulling up the page on the website, but I’m gonna spell it out. It’s h-o-r-o-i-project.com. And he has a website but most of his stuff at this point is at Patreon where you just voluntarily donate a certain amount of money each month and then you get immediate access to not only all of the new translations that he’s producing every week or every two weeks, but you also get access to all of the past translations that he’s already done and completed. And I think one of them is a complete translation of the work of Antiochus of Athens or the introduction to Antiochus by Porphyry, which has a bunch of definitions from Hellenistic astrology. But Levente is also working on other translations of Paulus, eventually Valens, and a number of other astrologers. So I’m saying that because there have already been a bunch of other translations; there’s also been new academic translations. For example, the text of Manetho was translated recently in an academic translation.

We also had people like Benjamin Dykes who came in starting in the mid-2000s, who was originally a student of Zoller’s, but then he started translating texts from Latin. And he translated dozens and dozens of Medieval texts and then eventually he went and he learned Arabic so that he could start translating text from Arabic. So as a result of that Benjamin Dykes has translated a bunch of texts. Ali Olomi is starting to translate a bunch of texts from Arabic into English through his Patreon. We have people like Levente László translating from Greek. There have been other scholars like Eduardo Gramaglia, who translated with Benjamin Dykes, Book Three of Hephaistio. So in that instance, for example, Schmidt had translated Books One and Two of Hephaistio through Project Hindsight, but Schmidt never got to Book Three of Hephaistio. So other scholars, in that instance, Eduardo Gramaglia and Ben Dykes, came in and they did their own translation of Book Three which sort of completed things.

There have been a bunch of instances like that where we’ve either got translations that have been completed and finished, or we have new translations by different scholars and sometimes their translations differ in interesting and notable ways from the Project Hindsight translations. It’s not always major differences, but it’s one that if you’re doing textual studies it’s sometimes important to note the difference in how different translators will render and translate different translations. So to make a long story short and actually answer the question after that 5- or 10-minute digression, I think the answer is that the majority of especially the ancient Greek texts have been translated at this point and are available in some form one way or another, even if they’re not very widely accessible. And over the course of the next 5 to 10 years, I think especially as long as Levente László keeps doing his work with the HOROI Project, that we’ll see the rest of those texts that haven’t been translated yet come into wide circulation here pretty soon.

So I would say that especially in terms of the Greek tradition that the majority of the most important texts have been translated. And I don’t think I can quantify it. I want to put a number like 80% or something, or maybe even higher if we’re talking about major astrological texts that survive from the Greco-Roman tradition, the vast majority of them have been translated at some point or another at this point. So in that sense what was started with Project Hindsight has largely been brought to completion because the vast majority of the most important astrological texts from the ancient traditions have been translated and are more widely available now 30 years later than they were when they started. And that’s not only due to Project Hindsight, but that’s due to a wide variety of different astrologers and translators and academics around the world that have contributed different pieces to that.

So that doesn’t mean that there’s not more work to be done. And one of the things that I always encourage people is if you want to take part in that effort then starting to learn an ancient language like Greek or Latin or Arabic would be super valuable because there’s still texts that either need to be translated or that could use another translation in order to do something more definitive like, for example, how many of the Project Hindsight translations were always supposed to be preliminary. So there’s still room to do new translations to build on those texts in order to create a more solid understanding of what the original authors intended to convey, so there’s still a lot of work to do in that area. So I definitely don’t want to discourage people and say we’re done, or Project Hindsight—that the effort underlying it that was initiated with that time is over ‘cause there’s definitely still work to be done. But we’re in a much different place now 30 years later in terms of texts that are available compared to where we were 30 years earlier where there was almost nothing that was available in easily-accessible translated form.

All right, let me scroll back up to other questions. 13th harmonic and 12th harmonic. I mean, Hand has a lengthy discussion about that I think in one of the prefaces to him and Schmidt’s translation of Valens about the difference between the 13th and 12th harmonic, so I’d have to direct you to that in order to learn more about that discrepancy.

One person asks, “What do you think will happen to Schmidt’s audio and work, currently or going forward? Do you think the blue zines will become available?” I don’t know. I think things are a little up in the air about whether that work is gonna be continued forward. Of course his wife Ellen Black passed away just a few months ago this year in 2023, and so she was really the last remaining core member of Project Hindsight—well, aside from Robert Hand of course. In some of the lists it was not just the ‘3 Roberts’, the three men, but Ellen Black was also a major person that was involved in the project as Schmidt’s wife and as one of the people that was very much involved in how things worked out. She was actually the one that got into astrology before Schmidt did in the early-to-mid-1980s and was the one who encouraged him to look into it and to take it more seriously as something that was worth looking into. So her passing away this year, she was one of the last people in terms of the later members of Project Hindsight, which was basically just Bob and Schmidt and Ellen. And her passing away seemed like it put an end to a certain era of Project Hindsight over the past 30 years in terms of it not being clear if she was gonna finish some of Schmidt’s work, and I don’t know what’s gonna happen with that at this point in terms of going forward. I think it could go a number of different ways. And with the blue booklets, I don’t know if they’ll be republished ‘cause that was one of the issues with Schmidt. Schmidt himself deliberately didn’t republish them.

So you have this question of should they be, or why did he not want to republish them—and different pros and cons surrounding that and whether it’s worth going back to popularize something that Schmidt himself considered to be an earlier unfinished product or whether it’s better to create new translations that kind of build on the earlier ones, but are ultimately more final or more superior in some way. Which is partially what Levente László is doing, and part of how he’s doing that is that he’s actually going back to the manuscripts. For a lot of the Project Hindsight translations they were relying on critical editions that had been compiled by academics over the past decades, where an academic will go back and they’ll get as many manuscripts they can find of a text, and they’ll compare them and try to reconstruct what they thought the original Greek text was. So those reconstructions are what Schmidt largely was translating from for the most part.

But what some scholars now are starting to do—like Levente László or others—is they’re actually going back to the manuscripts that still survive, where scribes and astrologers copied in handwritten manuscripts the actual texts of the astrological tradition. And in some instances Levente László is finding texts that were not taken into account in the critical editions, so that he’s actually able to create a superior translation because he’s taking more of the early texts into account. So I think some of that work is actually really important, and it’s one of the arguments for focusing a little bit more on where some of the newer translations are going by this new generation of astrologers who are also scholars, who are paying attention to not only the techniques and the texts themselves, but they’re also paying attention to the manuscript tradition and the context of the texts and all these different things surrounding them. So Levente László, Benjamin Dykes, Eduardo Gramaglia, Ali Olomi, and a number of others.

All right, “Was there any major Astro weather of the time that you think contributed to PH’s idealism and spearheading?” Well, actually going back I want to address something in the previous one with Schmidt’s audio. One of the things I always see people go through when it comes to Schmidt’s work is when people are first exposed to it, they go through a period of being very taken by by it and very drawn to it and very struck by it because he was a very deep thinker and he had a lot of interesting things to say about astrology. But sometimes people will go through this honeymoon phase that will last for a year or two where they become very excited about it and become very devoted to that and some of those different eras in Schmidt’s thinking. But one of the things is it’s kind of important to balance that out and not become a little bit too tied into just the work of one scholar; and I think that’s very important and it’s something sometimes I see happen. I think it’s better to take into account a bunch of different people in order to get Schmidt’s viewpoints—which were interesting and sometimes valid or compelling—but also sometimes to get other viewpoints as well.

So that’s one of the things I’ve been nervous about in terms of how to talk about Schmidt’s work. I felt that it’s always been important to present that there’s both really good things there but there’s also criticisms of that and to present them at the same time because I don’t want to accidentally contribute to people going down the road of hagiography thing of like worshiping or deifying somebody, which I do think is an issue that can come up sometimes with some of that material because of the way it was presented. So I guess I would just encourage caution when it comes to that in reference to that last question if some of the audio stuff does become more widely available. And maybe that’s something we can talk about more at a different time in something that’s more dedicated to his work in particular.

Somebody asked “Was there any major Astro weather of the time that you think contributed to PH’s idealism and spearheading?” Yeah, I mean, I think it had to do with the Uranus-Neptune conjunction that was taking place at the time ‘cause it was almost perfectly aligning in 1992 and 1993, but it was also part of a broader thing that was in the air at the time that I think also led to, for example, the parallel of Kepler College being founded during the same time and that move into trying to make astrology more academic. There was a revival of interest in Vedic astrology at the time where some of the first Western organizations for Vedic astrology were founded in the early-to-mid-1990s almost in parallel, so there was interest in looking at other ideas there. It was just a very idealistic time, and I think it had a lot to do with that Uranus-Neptune conjunction. Although there may have been a tinge of the Saturn in Aquarius and Saturn and Pisces stuff going on as well.

All right, other questions. Okay, I’m just scrolling through. There’s a lot of comments. Thanks everyone for your comments. “Are the translations archived in one place?” I mean, it depends on what translations you’re talking about. But I think the HOROI Project is the only place that’s currently making things widely available like that, with current ongoing translation work. Okay, I’m still scrolling through; sorry, everyone. There’s so many comments, but it’s great.

Okay, history of Project Hindsight. Somebody asked, “Was Rick “Merlin” Levine a part of Project Hindsight?” No, he wasn’t part of Project Hindsight, but I do think he attended what they called phase conclaves, which were their early conferences starting in 1994. I’m told that the first or second phase conclave was actually a pretty big event at the time, that a lot of astrologers attended and were involved in and took part in it. And even if they wouldn’t necessarily become traditional astrologers themselves, there was more of a community sense at the time that this was something important to promote. Somebody asked, “What’s the astrology behind the revival of Hellenistic astrology?” I think it’s still the Uranus-Neptune conjunction ‘cause that happens about every 170 years, and you can see it way back in history. Somebody says, “I hope Ben does the complete Hephaistio translation.” Yeah, that would be good. Now that Ben did Book Three, maybe he and Eduardo can go back and translate the rest. Honestly, that’s probably something that um Levente László will do pretty soon as part of the HOROI Project.

Okay, just looking to see if there are any other questions. There’s a lot of comments. All right, I think I’m getting to the end. Are there any last comments before I wrap up for today? Somebody says, “Taking into consideration that AI is so good at recognizing patterns, do you think it would be useful as a tool to better understand astrology?” Yeah, maybe as a research tool. And it was interesting that Hand, in one of those later comments, they were talking about computerization and whether the revival of traditional astrology would be helpful for that. And I think there’s still some ways in which his answer is true today but we’ll have to see. I mean, there’s limitations to that, and we’ll have to see how AI develops here in the next 10 years.

Somebody asked, “Do you think that ‘image’ is a good translation of the word you mentioned in Paul of Alexandria’s work for zoidion?” I mean, it is. That is one of the major meanings. It’s been a while since I thought about this because, for me, something I wrestled with in my book about what language to adopt. Being influenced by Schmidt I understood his emphasis on choosing terms very carefully and that you don’t always have to use the pre-existing terms, but sometimes if there’s a word that’s better, that more clearly translates the original concept underlying the Greek term, you should go with that and integrate it into your practice because it can actually give you insight into what the original technique meant. And I do think there’s definitely some great things for that, and there’s definitely some terminology that I’ve integrated into my contemporary practice that I use in that sense, but there’s other things where, like for a sign of the zodiac, it doesn’t just mean ‘image’.

That’s one of my issues and why I don’t use ‘image’ because early on in the Hellenistic tradition you can see that there’s a tension between the tropical and sidereal zodiac, and the constellations do reflect like images of things. But then from a very early stage they’re also using these abstract 30° divisions or segments of the ecliptic that are measured out from the solstices and the equinoxes, and they’re using the tropical zodiac so that what you have then is not necessarily images but idealized segments of things or signs. And I’m not necessarily convinced that ‘image’ is such a radically different word and meaning compared to the word ‘sign’ in terms of what sign has come to mean today. Like you have a stop sign which means something, or you have different types of signs or symbols that can speak to you and can say something symbolically.

And I’m not really convinced that we gain as much from using the term ‘image’, that we don’t already have a better way when it comes to ‘sign’. That doesn’t mean that I’m not open to or okay with people that want to use ‘image’ for translation of the word zoidion, I think that’s perfectly fine. I think each person ultimately is gonna come to different levels of comfort with how much they’re gonna change the contemporary words that are used for astrology when they start practicing Hellenistic astrology and how much they’re gonna adopt the older conventions versus how much they’re gonna continue to use current conventions; like, for example, whether you say trigon or ‘triangle’ instead of ‘trine’. It’s interesting doing some of that stuff and it is good to know, especially if you’re reading it in a translation, what the original term was because sometimes that can raise interesting points as you’re reading the translation.

But in terms of contemporary practice I’ve very much tried to find a middle-ground between integrating some of the ancient terminology while still also making concessions and using some of the modern or contemporary terminology. I feel like sometimes one of the issues with completely adopting ancient terms is it can almost lead to this insider/outsider dynamic where you’re just doing something for the sake of it looking fancy and different. And you run into that issue sometimes when you study other traditions as well, like Vedic, where they might have a different term for something, and you have a choice between using the Sanskrit term for that or the English term for that. And sometimes people will use another term just because it sounds more exotic, and I know for me that that’s not always necessary, per se. So this is a whole other topic, and it’s probably too big to attempt to get into here, so maybe I shouldn’t have tried, but that’s the short version of that. But it’s actually a very complicated topic that maybe I’ll have to save for another day.

Any plans to publish any more texts yourself, Chris?” Yeah, I may actually have because one of the things I did is I published last year Riley’s translation of Vettius Valens. And the reason why I did that is because Schmidt’s translation was very good. It wasn’t just the translation that was good, but also it had diagrams for each time that Valens would use a chart example. Hand and Schmidt went in and they created an image to reflect what the chart looked like as Valens was describing it in the text. And that was really important and useful when you’re going through and reading the text, so you can follow what Valens is saying with his chart examples. And then also Hand and Schmidt would write a commentary in the footnotes explaining the chart example and some of the things in it to make it more clear. So that was super interesting and super valuable.

But because those translations—because Schmidt let them go out of print, they weren’t widely available. And then in 2010, Mark Riley, who was an academic scholar who’s retired released his translation of Valens, which was also a somewhat preliminary, but not too preliminary translation of Valens—it was pretty well-finished—but it didn’t contain any diagrams for the chart examples. So one of the reasons I went and got permission from Riley to publish his translation is, one, to put it in print so that students could have it in book form—which I think is really important and valuable—but also in order to put those diagrams in there for the chart examples so that you can follow the text; because that’s crucial for understanding the techniques as Valens is teaching them. So that was something I did last year. I do have other possible books in the works, but I don’t want to mention them quite now. But I’m working on some stuff. So you’ll see here before too long.

Okay, other questions. Okay, so one person asks—I think they’re saying most Hellenistic astrologers required an oath from people who were initiated into astrology. “What was the position of people at Project Hindsight in making this knowledge public?” Yeah, so Valens is the one primarily that has these oaths to keep the teachings secret and not to share them with the unlearned and uninitiated, but there’s another part of that oath where Valens is also asking you primarily to acknowledge your teacher and acknowledge the one who taught you this information. And I think that was one of the major things for Valens ‘cause I think there’s a line at one point where he talks about seeing one of his works circulating in the marketplace or something without his name on it, that somebody had kind of ripped him off, and I think that was part of Valens’ motivations for the oath as well.

So that’s something I thought about seriously in publishing my book on Hellenistic astrology in 2017 in thinking about that issue, but I came down to two things. One, I think it was most important for Valens just to receive acknowledgment and to give acknowledgment to his teachers, and so that’s one of the reasons why I had a very long acknowledgment section in the beginning of the book, both thanking Valens and giving him credit for his work and also opening the book with a quote from Valens on the inside cover, but also giving credit to my other teacher, including Schmidt, including Demetra, and a number of others who contributed to or influenced my work on that topic. So on the one hand, that’s how I dealt with that as just giving credit where credit is due, which I think is always very important and I’ve tried to do pretty consistently in my work.

But also, I think when it comes down to it the conclusion I came down to is that the state of astrology was much different in Valens’ day in the 2nd century, and astrology since that time has risen and fallen several different times as different civilizations rise and fall and astrology was passed from culture to culture and language to language. And where I’ve always came down with that is I feel like if Valens was given the option between the tradition dies and ends here and his work is not passed forward into the future anymore, if he’s given a choice between that because people are swearing an oath and then not sharing the information and passing it forward to future generations versus if the other option is people publishing it and talking about Hellenistic astrology and talking about Valens and giving him credit for his work—based on just my familiarity with Valens and his thinking based on reading the Anthology and that being my primary source for Hellenistic astrology, I think he would default to the second option, which is that it’s more important to pass the tradition on than it is to keep it secret for reasons that were probably more relevant back then in the 2nd century when these mystery traditions existed than it is today. So that’s where I came down when it comes to that and there were different discussions about that at different points in time, but that’s where I came down to it for myself.

Oh, yeah, somebody mentions Alan White’s video. I think I meant to mention that, I don’t know if I did. But Alan White’s flip chart introduction to Hellenistic astrology is good to know about since that’s a big link in the tradition. And Allen’s flip chart video—which is on my YouTube channel if you search like ‘Alan White, Hellenistic astrology’—represents the Project Hindsight views of Hellenistic astrology circa 1999 and 2000, around the time of the Einstein intensives, when Schmidt had one of his first versions of the system together, where he thought he had everything figured out and he outlined a sort of approach. That’s kind of what Alan is summarizing, and he’s ‘translating the translator’ in that presentation.

But one of the things also that you have to understand about Schmidt’s work is that he would change his thinking multiple times, like pretty regularly throughout the course of his career. So I don’t think there was ever gonna be a final, definitive treatment of Hellenistic astrology as far as Schmidt was concerned because it was too big of a topic for any one person to pull off in one lifetime. And because Schmidt himself liked to have a sort of flexibility to his thinking, and he liked to be able to change and revise his thinking periodically, he did every few years or every several years. And I think that’s one of the reasons why his final translation series was never released, although that’s partially because moved away from wanting to translate the text and make them available to the astrological community.

And that’s one of the things that I did not like about his later work, that shift in emphasis away from the idealism and the democratization of the 1990s, but also in terms of not even finishing a final course on Hellenistic astrology. I think it’s probably because his views were still growing and changing—because they are for all of us. For every free astrologer throughout the course of our lives we’re always gonna continually learn new things, and we’re gonna continue to grow and think. But for some people we sort of know that at some point you have to just cut it off at a certain point and put your work out there even if it represents a stage in your thinking that might change later, but for Schmidt that was hard. It was something that he struggled with because he always wanted to present something that was solid and definitive and that he would never change his mind on, but I don’t think he ever achieved that state necessarily because it’s a hard thing to live up to.

All right, other questions. Oh, yeah, let me see if I can put links in the chat. If I can’t share the screen, I can at least put the link to the HOROI Project—which is Levente’s website where he’s starting to post stuff—and especially to his Patreon, which I’m actually having trouble finding. There it is. Okay, so I’m posting this in the live chat for any of those listening to the audio version later. It’s patreon.com/horoiproject, and that’s where he’s publishing essentially the closest thing to a current version of Project Hindsight that we have, which is somebody that’s doing ongoing translations of Greek astrological texts into English and is doing a pretty amazing job of it.

Yes, that’s true. Firmicus Maternus has also had some oaths in his thing. And I think this is tied in with the Hermetic tradition that Firmicus and Valens were part of and shared in common. It was something about the Hermetic texts because I found a similar oath in a Hermetic philosophical text called The Discourse on the Eighth and the Ninth, and it sounds very similar to the oath that Valens has. So I think this is something that might have been tied up in some of the Hermetic philosophical and astrological material, essentially the texts that were floating around that were attributed to Hermes.

All right, so I think that’s the last of the questions I can answer. So it looks like we’ve been doing this stream for, what is it, 3-hours-and-40-minutes. All right, so we’re approaching four hours. I’ve now made it a huge livestream again. So this was fun. Thank you everybody for joining me. This is a bit of an experiment. I’ve been wanting to do more livestream content, and, yeah, mix that into some of my other stuff. I do my normal long podcast episodes on The Astrology Podcast. I’m starting to do more short videos. I also wanted to experiment with this format in order to do more live interaction, and this was fun, and I think it was a good first experiment for that.

So, as for myself, everybody I think already knows if you want to learn more about my work on ancient astrology, you can get my book Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune. I also teach a course on the subject, which is available at courses.theastrologyschool.com where I give my take on everything and go into the techniques of ancient astrology, but I also sometimes reflect on issues like the history of Hellenistic astrology and its origins. And sometimes I talk about, for example, the debate that arose between Hand and Schmidt over what I call ‘the sudden invention’ versus ‘gradual development’ argument and this idea of whether Hellenistic astrology was a singular invention or whether it developed more organically over a period of time. So that’s something I get into in the course, in addition to just teaching you how to read birth charts by putting some of these techniques in practice. So check that out at theastrologyschool.com if you’d like to learn more about that approach. But otherwise I think that’s it. Thanks everyone for joining me today in the live chat. Thanks everyone who has supported everything on the podcast lately. It’s been really great and I’m excited to take things into whatever this new era is as we move forward.

And I’m gonna keep doing what I can to try to document some of the stuff that happened over the past 30 years, especially in terms of that early period in Project Hindsight. I have some other recordings that I’m thinking about releasing. I’ve already posted one of them recently—which was an extended interview with Rob Hand I think from the same month in 1993—I posted as an episode of The Casual Astrology Podcast, on my page on Patreon, so you can check that out there. Otherwise, I’m gonna look into the best way to release some of the other material that I’ve been finding and unearthing recently just in order to make it part of the historical record and put it out there so that people can develop a better idea of how this revival of traditional astrology took place, at least in terms of this piece of it, and the role that Project Hindsight played. So thanks everyone for joining me and for being involved with and helping with this effort, and I guess I’ll see you again next time.