A.J. Pearce - Texbook of Astrology

I am suprized that no one seems to refer to A.J.Pearce's Textbook of Astrology as a work of reference. It has held a cherished place in my bookshelf for years and proven a treasure chest of knowledge and inspiration. His work is well documented and covers every aspect of astrology from genethical to mundane and electional astrology, covering topics like earthquakes, volcanos, eclipses and comets.

You can't flick through the pages without being impressed by the amount of references and quotes; Lilly, Ptolemy, Bonatus, Cardan, Porphry, Placidus, Clemens of Alexandria, Kepler, Tycho Brache, Manilius, Butler, Bacon, Lavater, Ramesey, Flamstead, Proctor, Tacitus, Cicero, Pliny, Brewster, Napier, Dee, Dryden, Aberbanel, Gaffarel... the list seems endless.

Particularly scholarly is his introduction to and description of the planets;
The planet Mercury: The cardinal number four in Hebrew, Arabo, is compounded of Ar, light, i.e. the light or star, and Rabo, activity, business or employment: thus meaning "the active star," or "the star of employment," in allusion to the doctrine that Mercury rules over business and employment, and influences activity of mind and body.

The planet Mars: The Hebrew, Ash-Lesh, means the Star of Flame, or flaming Star. Shelesh, the number three, means also a general or commander of an army; the third day of the week is under the rule of Mars, "the god of war", who influences all military men.
Interesting is also his reference to Newton:
Newton's biographer says of him that ,"A desire to know whether there was anything in judicial astrology first put him into studying mathematics. He discovered the emptiness of the figure as soon as he erected a figure." This , to say the least, was a very certain discovery; and if he really did no more than erect a figure of the heavens we can easily understand how the great Newton may be quoted as an opponent of astrology... It must be noted, too, that at the time he was not twenty-four years old. As it is known that Sir Isaac did not rashly bring forward any of his great discoveries, but allowed nearly forty years to elapse from the time of their first conception till their publication.
At the time I bought my copy of Pearce, it was so dirt cheap I thought that everyone must have a copy in their library [AFA, 1970]. If this is not the case, then the 'Textbook of Astrology' makes a worthy contribution to astrology and I would recommend everyone who could get hold of a copy to do so.

Accuracy of Mars in Rectification


I wholeheartedly agree with you on the worthiness of Pearce. On my first private meeting with Robert Zoller, Pearce was one of the first books he had out for reference.

In my book on rectification, I cite both Pearce and Simmonite in Chapter 14 who both validate the accuracy of Mars directions in confirming a rectification.

Still, the book has a few weaknesses. One is a simple issue of 'user-friendliness.' Pearce has many examples, but the reader will have to cast the chart in order to follow along properly. Most people are too lazy. Second is one of emphasis. His use of modern planets and minor aspects tends to lead the reader off course.

But for those willing to cast his chart examples and to ignore his modernisms, Pearce is a great reference and learning tool.
Dr. H.
World Class Research in Medieval Predictive Astrology

Agreed, Andrew!

Without seeking to add to your technical coverage of Pearce's contents, I felt moved to offer a little bibliographical commentary, though I suspect I have covered some of this ground before in other strands on Skyscript and elsewhere, so my apologies are due for any repetitiousness.

The 1970 AFA edition you have (which was I think the third impression of the 1911 second edition first published by Mackie, as there was also a second printing of the same edition in two spiral-bound softcover volumes published by the National Astrological Library in the US around the 1950s) was out of print and on the scarce side in the early 2000s as I recall since I was after it at that time. Eventually I stumbled on an obscure cache of remaindered new copies priced at $60 each.

However, it was soon after reprinted in rapid succession by two sources, firstly by Ballantrae Reprint in Canada (on a handmade print on demand basis) around 2004, and then again by the AFA for the first time in 36 years in 2006. So there have now been five printings of the second edition by four different publishers spaced over a period of 95 years; and with the AFA selling its latest impression at a reasonable $45 per copy (a good value proposition for a substantial hardcover with a pictorial dust jacket), it seems likely that more of today's astrologers will be gaining access to it again.

I think however that possibly the mainstream traditional astrology revival has yet to take the 19th century very seriously, regarding its works mostly as popularised, simplified dilutions of the Renaissance era. On analysis, however, this does not do all the leading astrologers of the century justice.

Tom has also been full of praise for Pearce, and I know Maurice McCann refers to him in his list of sources on horary astrology at his website too. I expect that it is ultimately chiefly the fact that his work was out of print for a very long time between the 1970s and 2006 that has led to a slow filtration of interest in his work through to the mainstream of the traditional astrology movement.

As you're probably aware, in addition to his main Text Book of Astrology (which went through two editions in his lifetime, between 1879 and 1911), he also published a shorter pocket-sized book called 'The Science of The Stars' which also ran through two nominal editions, the first in 1881, published by Simpkin and Marshall, and the second in 1898, published by Glen and Co.. On inspection, however, whereas the two editions of the Text Book of Astrology are materially different in their contents, with some chapters from the first having been axed in the second and some newly created in the second, the two editions of the Science of the Stars are identical in contents, and thus the second does not really deserve the appelation of 'second edition' at all, since it is truthfully a mere second printing. But it seems that in the 19th century fresh printings were very often counted indiscriminately as new editions, as there are many other examples of this among 19th century astrological works.

I have collected copies of several of Pearce's journals too, though they are all extremely scarce.

There is currently a rather good-value (when rarity is considered) offer of the first 29 out the 31 published issues of 'Star Lore and Future Events' (which ran from 1897 to 1903) in their original separate wrappers for $500 on the used book networks. I had to pay $800 for the whole run of 31 as a bound volume (without the original wrappers) a couple of years ago, and that was only after bargaining a bookseller down heavily from his asking price of $1200.

In 1880 Pearce's first journal 'Urania' appeared for just nine monthly issues, and it is also sometimes found in a bound volume, typically in very poor condition.

Personally, however, I have not been as impressed by the contents of 'Urania' or 'Star Lore and Future Events' as much as I have by those of his second journal 'The Future', which ran from 1892 to 1894. I found a copy of the first volume of this on Abebooks a couple of years ago, with its binding again in appalling condition, but the contents generally intact, for $300 AU, and consider it to have been excellent value at the price, especially as I have yet to see another copy of any of the three volumes on the marketplace since. It certainly makes for very interesting reading for anyone with an interest in 19th century British and European history, as much space is given over to predictive and retrospective astrological analyses of the lives of eminent politicians and Royals of the day, these demonstrating Pearce's practical usage of primary directions.

It may be partly because of its much larger (quarto) physical format and double-columned pages that 'The Future' packs in lengthier articles, whereas 'Urania' and 'Star Lore' tend towards briefer content on single-columned pages. That said, I haven't had time to read everything in these journals just yet, and there are probably some interesting surprises still awaiting.