Stars in astrology

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This diagram of the Ptolemaic solar system from Peter Apian's Cosmographia shows the "fixed stars" in the eighth heaven of the firmament, behind which is a ninth, crystalline heaven, and behind that, the primum mobile.

In astrology, certain stars are considered significant. Historically, all of the various heavenly bodies considered by astrologers were considered "stars", whether they were stars, planets, other stellar phenomena like novas and supernovas, or other solar system phenomena like comets and meteors.[1][2]

Fixed and wandering stars[edit]

In traditional astrological nomenclature, the stars were divided into fixed stars, Latin stellæ fixæ, which in astrology means the stars and other galactic or intergalactic bodies as recognized by astronomy; and "wandering stars" (Greek: πλανήτης αστήρ, planētēs astēr), which we know as the planets of the solar system. Astrology also treats the Sun, a star, and Earth's Moon as if they were planets in the horoscope. These stars were called "fixed" because it was thought that they were attached to the firmament, the most distant from Earth of the heavenly spheres.

Stars and astrological degrees[edit]

Certain of the astrological degrees were identified and known due to their association with a corresponding star.[3] The astrological degrees that correspond to individual stars must be corrected for the precession of the equinoxes, and as such the astrologer must know when any given position of a fixed star was noted, to make the necessary corrections.[4]

Stars in sidereal and tropical astrology[edit]

Traditional Western astrology is based on tropical astrology, which presumes an equal division of the celestial sphere along the ecliptic into twelve equal parts, starting with Aries. Sidereal astrology, at once the oldest and a recently revived astrological tradition, is more observationally oriented and uses the actual observed position of the stars and the traditional divisions of the zodiac constellations as its starting point. As a result of the precession of the equinoxes, the observed positions of the zodiac signs no longer correspond to the signs of tropical astrology.


Traditionally, the most important fixed points in the heavens were described by the constellations of the zodiac. Ptolemy's account likens the influence of some of the stars in the zodiac constellations to the planets; he writes, for example, that "The stars in the feet of Gemini (Alhena and Tejat Posterior) have an influence similar to that of Mercury, and moderately to that of Venus."[5]

"Those people wonder at the star." The stitchers of the Bayeux tapestry believed that the return of Halley's Comet related to the Norman conquest of 1066.

Non-zodiac constellations in astrology[edit]

Vivian E. Robson notes that many of the traditional constellations outside of the zodiac constellations occupy large degrees of arc and typically compass several of the tropical zodiac signs. Ptolemy referred to stars by reference to the anatomy or parts of the constellations in which they appeared; thus Arcturus he named the "right knee of Boötes". Most of the Western names of stars, such as Algol or Betelgeuse, are Arabic in origin. In 1603 the Augsburg lawyer-uranographer Johann Bayer introduced the current classificatory system for the brighter stars, in which stars are identified as belonging to their constellations by Greek letters, in (roughly) descending order of brightness; so that Regulus, brightest star in Leo, is called α Leonis, the brightest star of the Lion.[6]

Astrological meteors[edit]

Unpredictable observations in the heavens, including novas and supernovas as well as other phenomena in the heavens such as comets, meteors, parhelions, and even rainbows, were all collected under the name of astrological meteors. According to Ptolemy, variations in the magnitude of fixed stars portends wind from the direction in which the star lies.[7] Etymologically, the word meteor describes any phenomenon in the heavens, and derives from the Greek μετέωρον (meteōron), signifying anything in the sky or above the earth; this is the shared origin of English words such as meteoroid and meteorology.

These astrological meteors were typically held to be omens that presaged major world events. In De nova stella, Tycho Brahe, one of many astrologers who observed the supernova of 1572, stated his belief that the appearance of the supernova heralded the decline of the Roman Catholic Church and stated that the years 1592-1632 would be impacted by the astrological influence of the supernova. The years corresponded almost precisely with the lifespan of Gustavus Adolphus (1594 - 1632), the king of Sweden who championed the cause of Protestantism during the Thirty Years War. This apparently successful prediction won Brahe international fame as an astrologer.[8]


According to Nicholas DeVore, while the fixed stars no longer are consulted much in natal astrology, they remain important in aspects of astrological divination such as judicial astrology. Those astrologers who include them in natal charts do not give a major star any significance unless it appears as part of a close conjunction with a birth planet, within 5° by celestial longitude, and 1° by latitude. They have no effect by means of aspect. A first magnitude or brighter star on the Ascendant or Midheaven in the horoscope may indicate celebrity. The two stars Aldebaran and Antares are said to produce stress when they transit one of the angles of the horoscope.[9]

Some astrologers that consult the stars refer to their affects as paranatellonta, or "paran" for short. Paranatellonta are stars that fall upon one of the four angles of the horoscope (rising or setting, at the midheaven, or at the imum coeli) at the same time a significant planet is at one of those points. Thus, for example, if Sirius was rising while Jupiter was at the midheaven, Sirius would be considered a paran of Jupiter and could influence the way the astrologer interpreted Jupiter in that horoscope.[10]

Scorpio, depicted in Johann Bayer's Uranometria. The bright star in the body of the scorpion, ᾳ Scorpii, is Antares.

Specific fixed stars[edit]


Astrologically, Aldebaran is a fortunate star, portending riches and honor. This star, named "Tascheter" by the Persians, is one of the four "royal stars" of the Persians from around 3000 BC. These stars were chosen in such way that they were approximately 6 hours apart in right ascension. Each of these stars was assigned to a season, Aldebaran was prominent in the March sky and as such, it was associated with the vernal equinox. Its current celestial longitude is 09 Ge. 47 as of 2006[11]

The four royal stars with their modern and ancient Persian names were

To medieval astrologers, Aldebaran was one of fifteen Behenian stars, associated with rubies, milk thistles and the kabbalistic sign Aldaboram (Agripa 1531).svg.

In Hindu astrology, Aldebaran corresponds to the Rohini Nakshatra.

In Western Sidereal Astrology, computation is based on defining Aldebaran as 15 degrees Taurus precisely.<Cyril Fagan><Garth Allen>


In astrology, Algol is one of the most unfortunate stars.[12] Ptolemy referred to it as "the Gorgon of Perseus" and associated it with death by decapitation: mirroring the myth of the hero Perseus’ victory over the snake-headed Gorgon Medusa.[13] Historically, it has received a strong association with violence across a wide variety of cultures. Medieval Arabic commanders tried to ensure that no important battle began whilst the light of Algol was weak.[14] Algol was connected to the prognoses in an ancient Egyptian calendar for lucky and unlucky days composed about 3200 years ago.[15][16] [17]

The 17th century English astrologer William Lilly regarded any planet to be afflicted when within five degrees of conjunction.[18] As of 1986 its celestial longitude was 25 Tau. 55'48.[19]

Algol is also one of the 15 Behenian stars,[20] associated with the diamond and hellebore, and marked with the kabbalistic sign: Algol symbol (Agripe 1531).svg


Gienah (gamma Corvi) is supposed to have a similar effect to Mars and Saturn, tending to promote greed and craftiness. It was one of the medieval Behenian stars, associated with onyx, burdock, and a crow-like kabbalistic symbol Agrippa1531 alaCorui.png. In this context it is sometimes referred to as Ala Corvi, "the wing of the crow or raven".


Astrologically, Procyon is considered mostly unfortunate although it is sometimes wealth producing. It has strong potential as a cause of violence; it brings sudden success then disaster.[21] It is of the nature of Mars (and also Mercury to a lesser extent),[22] and when Mars is found conjoined to this star, the native with this configuration will often be an offender of mischief and violence, that is, if these stars are found upon one of the 4 angles of the chart, during the day, with the Moon making a testimony to them while increasing in light.[23] It is also one of fifteen Behenian stars, associated with agate and water crowfoot. According to Cornelius Agrippa, its kabbalistic symbol is Agrippa1531 Canisminor.png.


In the astrology of the Middle Ages, Sirius was a Behenian fixed star, associated with beryl and juniper. Its kabbalistic symbol Sirius - Agrippa.png was listed by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa. Its celestial longitude was 14 Can. 05 as of 2006.[24]


Vega (or Wega) takes its name from a loose transliteration of the Arabic word wāqi‘ meaning "falling".[25] Its constellation (Lyre) was represented as a vulture or eagle so that Vega was referred to as the 'falling vulture/eagle'.[26] This is a Pole star. Around 12,000 BC the pole was pointed only five degrees away from Vega and through precession, the pole will again pass near Vega around AD 14,000.[27] Medieval astrologers counted Vega as one of the Behenian stars[28] and related it to chrysolite and winter savory. Cornelius Agrippa listed its kabbalistic sign Agrippa1531 Vulturcadens.png under Vultur cadens, a literal Latin translation of the Arabic name.[29] Its celestial longitude was 15 Cap. 19 as of 2006.[24] In Vedic Astrology the Nakshatra Abhijit is known as Vega.

Paranatellonta: this manuscript illumination from an astrology text attributed to Alfonso X of Castile illustrates the effects of various stars and constellations, including Corvus, Cygnus, and Draco, when acting in concert with Gemini.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vivian E. Robson (2003), Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7661-4228-2
  2. ^ Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, book 1
  3. ^ Vivian E. Robson, The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology (Astrology Center of America, 2005, repr.; ISBN 1-933303-13-1), pp. 11 et. seq.
  4. ^ Nicholas DeVore. Encyclopedia of Astrology (Philosophical Library, 1947), sub. tit, "Degree"
  5. ^ Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, book 1 ch. 9
  6. ^ Robson, supra, pp. 19-20
  7. ^ Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, book 2 ch. 14
  8. ^ David Plant, Tycho Brahe: A King among Astronomers (, first published in The Traditional Astrologer Magazine, Issue 8, Spring 1995), accessed July 14, 2011
  9. ^ Nicholas DeVore. Encyclopedia of Astrology (Philosophical Library, 1947), sub. tit "Stars", pp. 408- 409; "Astrology", pp 28-29.
  10. ^ Deborah Houlding, "Paran", in "Glossary of Traditional Astrological Terms",, accessed July 15, 2011.
  11. ^ Deborah Houlding, "The 20 Brightest Stars" at; accessed July 15, 2011.
  12. ^ Allen, Richard Hinckley (1899). Star-Names and Their Meanings (Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning in the unchanged 1963 Dover reprint). G.E. Stechert (New York). pp. 332–33. ISBN 0-486-21079-0. OCLC 185804232., also online on Bill Thayer's site Lacus Curtius: Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning
  13. ^ Robbins, Frank E. (ed.) 1940. Ptolemy Tetrabiblos. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press (Loeb Classical Library). ISBN 0-674-99479-5, IV.9, p.435.
  14. ^ Ebertin, R., & Hoffman, G., Fixed Stars and their Interpretation, Verlag, 1971, p.24
  15. ^ Porceddu, S.; Jetsu, L.; Lyytinen, J.; Kajatkari, P.; et al. (2008). "Evidence of Periodicity in Ancient Egyptian Calendars of Lucky and Unlucky Days". Cambridge Archaeological Journal. 18 (3): 327–339. Bibcode:2008CArcJ..18..327P. doi:10.1017/S0959774308000395.
  16. ^ Jetsu, L.; Porceddu, S.; Lyytinen, J.; Kajatkari, P.; et al. (2013). "Did the Ancient Egyptians Record the Period of the Eclipsing Binary Algol - The Raging One?". The Astrophysical Journal. 773 (1): A1 (14pp). arXiv:1204.6206. Bibcode:2013ApJ...773....1J. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/773/1/1.
  17. ^ Jetsu, L.; Porceddu, S. (2015). "Shifting Milestones of Natural Sciences: The Ancient Egyptian Discovery of Algol's Period Confirmed". PLOS ONE. 10 (12): e.0144140 (23pp). arXiv:1601.06990. Bibcode:2015PLoSO..1044140J. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144140.
  18. ^ William Lilly, Christian Astrology; London, 1647; Ascella Publications reprint, 1999; p.115.
  19. ^ Giuseppe Bezza, translated by Daria Dudziak, "Al-ghûl, the ogre", originally in Schema 3, December 1986; accessed July 15, 2011.
  20. ^ Henry Cornelius Agrippa. Three Books of Occult Philosophy. Lyons, 1531/33. Llewellyn reprint, 1993; tr. J. Freake (1651), ed. D. Tyson, p.411.
  21. ^ Robson
  22. ^ Ptolemy
  23. ^ Maternus
  24. ^ a b Houlding, "The 20 Brightest Stars", above.
  25. ^ Knobel, E. B. (June 1895). "Al Achsasi Al Mouakket, on a catalogue of stars in the Calendarium of Mohammad Al Achsasi Al Mouakket". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 55: 429. Bibcode:1895MNRAS..55..429K. doi:10.1093/mnras/55.8.429.
  26. ^ Houlding, Deborah (December 2005). "Lyra: The Lyre". Sktscript. Retrieved 2007-11-04.
  27. ^ Roy, Archie E.; Clarke, David (2003). Astronomy: Principles and Practice. CRC Press. ISBN 0-7503-0917-2.
  28. ^ Tyson, Donald; Freake, James (1993). Three Books of Occult Philosophy. Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN 0-87542-832-0.
  29. ^ Agrippa, Heinrich Cornelius (1533). De Occulta Philosophia. ISBN 90-04-09421-0.

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