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Volguine's Lunar Astrology - Comments

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Joined: 15 Nov 2005
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Posted: Wed May 02, 2007 1:58 am    Post subject: Volguine's Lunar Astrology - Comments Reply with quote

Hello all,

Has anyone studied the above in detail? Comments please!

A pdf version of the above (alas it's facsimille quality but still OK):-
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Posted: Thu May 03, 2007 4:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I had this book, but I will have to read it in detail to see if it is the same.
To be sincere I only remember that Volguine talked a lot about people born in the new moon, because he saw this as a sign of tragedy.
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Tumbling Sphinx

Joined: 02 Jan 2005
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Posted: Mon May 07, 2007 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Astrojin,

Thanks for sharing this excellent link. This is of great interest to me ... and is an area I've been giving attention to.

A couple of initial thoughts perhaps:

1. It involves a shift in orientation as to the heavens. By this I mean taking one's alignments from the outer sphere of stars, instead of from the solar paradigm which currently prevails.

2. There's two directions for consideration.

When considering passage of Moon, it's ascent/descent etc over course of a year, it's progressive direction (as well as that of the other planets) is from West to East as seen against the celestial sphere, which is contrary to the direction of daily (diurnal) motion considered for example in Horary (East to West).

For example that which is gestating behind the scenes apparent against the celestial sphere over the larger passage of time via Earth's orbit around the Sun, is brought to the light of day by the apparent directional shift of Earth's daily rotation.

This might help to explain what I mean:

This naturally goes back to the old calendars, for example, East primarily centred on Moon's motion apparent against celestial sphere, Mid-East on luni-solar apparent against celestial sphere, transmission to West saw focus on Sun, and a progressive reduction of considerations to centre on local star (Sun) rather than aligning with the outer stars.
Today the stars have become something of an afterthought whereas going back they were primary.

And the degrees of this counter-clockwise motion (the progressive motion of the year) being the days of the year etc, the two lights (primary time-keepers, Moon & Sun) and their conjunctions demarcating start of new month as apparent against the celestial sphere/ecliptic from Earth giving rise to the 12(13)-fold division (and sub-divisions) of the ecliptic as pertains to this counter-clockwise direction.

As it was the larger time scale - Earth's orbit - under consideration for the order of life, seasons etc, before reducing to a particular day and Earth's rotation, then this direction of the accumulation of days designated by Moon's progressive relationship to Sun apparent from Earth also has a role to play in light/dark degrees (days), masculine/feminine attribution of qualities to the 12 houses, etc.

Another consideration being that astrologers were focused on horizon, and in many areas days commenced with sunset, whereas astronomers were more oriented towards the zenith/nadir.

And another consideration perhaps being in the early transmissions of Arabic to the West, the Arabic numerals weren't inverted to correspond with their Roman counterparts. That is, Arabic is written from right to left, roman numerals from left to right ... the Arabic was not initially inverted to correspond with the Roman equivalents ... not sure what impact, if any, this may have had on understanding the order/numbering of things at the time.

Just a few initial thoughts.
But even in horary, I think it's worth probably considering why Moon's consistently attributed 1st/Asc, harking back to the initial order.

Again, many thanks.

Kind regards,
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Posted: Tue May 29, 2007 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Astrojin,

Like you I find this subject fascinating. I couldn't get the link you offered to work but I have now purchased the book and have been studying it.

I had already read about Lunar mansions in Vivian Robson's book 'The Fixed Stars and Constellations' published in 1923.

Volguine's book was first published in 1936 in French but as an English edition did not emerge until 1974 it seems to have been rather neglected. The book was certainly very pioneering and decades ahead of its time. It compares the ancient system of lunar mansions in the three traditions : the 28 Arabic mansions ( Manazils), the 27 Vedic mansions ( Nakshatras) and the 28 Chinese mansions ( Hsiu/Xiu). The book also discusses the 28 so called 'lunar houses'. These are not related to the lunar mansions but instead represent unequal divisions of the Soli-lunar cycle.

While Volguine's discussion on the Vedic and Chinese Lunar Mansions is interesting this has largely been superseded by later research. For example Derek Walters book on Chinese Astrology is probably the best book available on the subject in English. The Chinese Lunar Mansions have been very neglected in China and the Chinese diaspora to the extent that Derek Walters has been invited on numerous occasions to lecture there by Chinese astrologers. There are also now numerous excellent books available on the Vedic Nakshatras or lunar mansions. For example, Dennis Harness's book 'The Nakshatras' and Kenneth Johnson's book 'Mansions of the Moon: The Lost Zodiac of the Goddess'.

Still, Volguine deserves a lot of credit for being the first astrologer to look at all these systems simultaneously through the degrees of the zodiac. This approach has been adopted in a modern book on the lunar mansions by Diana Rosenberg comparing the three systems of lunar mansions ( see below)

I personally found the discussion of the Arabic lunar mansions the most interesting part of the book. Probably the most attractive thing about Volguine's book is that he seeks to illustrate the lunar mansions with actual examples from charts. Vivian Robson didn't do this and as a result his description is more dry.

Volguine rejects the idea of the Mansions retaining a connection to the fixed stars and instead fits them into the tropical zodiac. I feel he is rather too dismissive of those wanting to link the mansions to sidereal positions. If you look at the names of the lunar mansions many of them originate in the names of fixed stars. The quality of the mansions also seems integrally linked to the stars associated with them. While I am a tropicalist generally I actually favour a sidereal approach to the lunar mansions. After all this is a 'lunar zodiac' not a solar one. Its makes sense for a solar zodiac to be dictated by the changing relationship between the Sun and the Earth. The same logic is not axiomatic for a lunar zodiac. The very first zodiac was the Bablylonian one based on the Moon's movement across 18 unequal constellations. The original Arabic approach to the lunar mansions was undeniably sidereal too to judge by sources such as Al Biruni. However, whether you choose a tropical or sidereal approach is a matter of personal preference. Its worth looking at lots of charts with both approaches to see which better resonates for you. Like all good debates there are arguments on both sides.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of Volguine's book is his description of the so called 'Lunar houses' . These are not lunar mansions but rather 28 houses based on the lunation cycle. These houses are unequal ranging from 8'5 degrees to 44 '. Volguine's justifies this based on a quote from an ancient Bablylonian source regarding the light of the Moon. The brighter the Moon the larger the house.

.....''following the Arabs example, the Middle Ages measured the houses in an approximate manner by days; but if a system of equal houses is used, a Lunar house must equal one day one hour 18.7 minutes (which is 1/28th of the synodic Lunar revolution and not twenty-four hours). But in antiquity there were Lunar houses that followed the phases of the Moon. the more the Moon was visible, the greater the size of the house. The Chaldeans, who invented arithmetic and geometric progresssions , left documents dealing with this increase in houses in proportion to the age of the Moon. For the most part, most traditional scholars see in this the first attempts at approximative evaluations of Lunar movement. But, knowing the degree of development of the astronomical observations of the Chaldeans, it is impossible to see anything in this progression but lunar houses , and not ephemerides as certain Assyriologists would have it'
(Lunar Astrology-Alexandre Volguine page 77

Volguine colourfully describes a Moon within 8'5 degrees of applying or separating to the Sun as the 'dark Moon' or what he calls the 'Hecate Moon' after the Goddess. He links this to quite malefic circumstances using several chart examples. Of course to traditionalists this is the familiar number of degrees for combustion of the new Moon and is undeniably a very weak placement for the Moon.

It occurred to me reading this chapter that Dane Rudhyar was French too and therefore must have read Volguine's book. While Dane Rudhyar's book 'The Lunation cycle' is based on eight lunar phases in the soli-lunar cycle Volguine may have been a direct influence on him. I have no experience of these 28 lunar houses in charts but it is an intriguing idea. I plan to find out more about the Vedic approach in this area too. Volguine's approach bears little relationship to the actual daily motion of the Moon. Nevertheless, its certainly the case that ancient cultures such as the Babylonians and Egyptians saw a direct connection between the light transmitted by a planet/star and its relative power or influence. In horary and electional astrology the concept of the Moon being weakened when it is decreasing in light is well established. Still, another approach worth exploring might be assigning unequal houses based on the relative speed of the Moon at various stages of the lunation cycle.

In terms of studying this subject further two books have come out which anyone interested in this subject should probably consider getting. One is Christopher Warnock's book 'Mansions of the Moon' This looks like the most definitive work to using the Arabic lunar mansions currently available.
Deb has reviewed this book here and it not only looks an extremely well researched book but also a very beautiful one with amazing illustrations.

The other is a book available direct from the fixed star expert Diana Rosenberg entitled 'Lunar Mansions'. Rosenberg has followed Volguine's approach and compares all three traditions of lunar mansions across the zodiac. However, she has had the benefit of later scholarship.

In the meantime here are two interesting articles on the Lunar Mansions:

An article looking at the Lunar Mansions utilising the traditional medieval text the Picatrix:

An article by Stephanie Johnson on the Arabic Lunar Mansions. Like Volguine ,Stephanie adapts the Arabic Mansions to the tropical zodiac:

Last edited by Mark on Fri Jun 08, 2007 8:08 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


THANK YOU everybody, esp. to MarkC! for the detail post.
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Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Astrojin,

However, as you started this thread I would be interested to know what your take on the book is?

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