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WThe Mansions of the Moon by Christopher Warnock

Book Review

The Mansions of the Moon
by Christopher Warnock

ISBN: 1905047746,Paperback, 192 pages.
Published by Renaissance Astrology, 2006.
Reviewed by Deborah Houlding

Available for purchase from
Renaissance Astrology
Price: $24.95 (US) + p&p.

This is one of those books that could easily escape attention, or it could just as easily become a classic text that astrologers will want to keep on their shelves for reference. That depends upon how committed astrologers are in integrating knowledge of the Mansions of the Moon into their astrology. At the moment very few are doing that, but mainly (I'm sure) because so very little is currently available about their history, meaning and practical application. Warnock's book perfectly fills that gap; and in presenting a book that makes no assumptions, he has achieved an ideal formula for satisfying the needs of beginners as well as the interest of experts.

The strength of this book is that it has a clearly identified purpose; and that purpose is narrow in focus but broad in interest. Warnock's central theme is exactly what you would expect - to explain what the Mansions of the Moon are, what is known of their history, what they actually mean, how they are used, and the philosophical argument that supports their use. There is something very persuasive about the way he presents his subject: you can tell that he considers the Mansions of the Moon to be deserving of more recognition, but his enthusiasm for the subject is never laboured; in fact it is more apparent in the way that he doesn't take the subject up as a cause to be championed. It is quite a dignified approach, and it leaves you wondering why this important concept in astrology has become so undervalued and inconspicuous to modern astrologers.

The book begins with an introduction of what the Mansions of the Moon are, which also introduces their philosophy and the theory of their demarcation. Warnock admits that the material used in his later sections on Mansion meanings has mainly come from traditional sources, although he has used meditational inspiration to combine these into his own recommended 'essence'. This made me a little bit wary at first, but so much of his traditional research from primary sources is included for comparison that we quickly realise the author is not flying off at a tangent with his own creative visions. The inspirational quality seems to be well placed here, and no more than we would expect from any author seeking capture the deeper meaning of symbolism in a consistent and cohesive manner. By allowing us access to traditional texts that are not otherwise readily available, astrologers who want to do further research of their own are fully catered for. That said, I left the book quite sure that this author is qualified to offer himself as an expert that has valuable opinions to add on his own account.

A considerable amount of material in this book is based upon the author's own translation of the Picatrix, a manuscript of medieval astrology and magic that was historically circulated in secret because of its inclusion of malefic as well as benefic magic. The manuscript used in translation originally belonged to William Lilly, showing how influential this 'underground' treatise was once. It made me consider the irony of all the recent rubbish about the secret '13th sign' of the tropical zodiac (as if something solar could ever be 'secret'); in fact the real secret is that of the Moon, the mysterious ruler of the night, whose Mansions are essentially the forgotten lunar zodiac.

The second short chapter offers up the sources for the material and reveals how well researched this work actually is. The next chapter demonstrates the calculations needed, (and for those who want to avoid calculations for transits there is an ephemeris included as an appendix that displays the Mansion of the Moon for all times between 2006-2018). Following chapters feature the use of the Mansions in magic and electional astrology, and then the bulk of the book covers each particular mansion in detail. There is an artistic reproduction of the image associated with each mansion and it is hard to pass these by without commenting on the superb artwork and symbolic appreciation of the artist Nigel Jackson. It is clear that this book is the result of two dedicated minds working in union to give full expression to the Mansion themes, and Warnock rightly credits Jackson as more of a co-author than illustrator.

As Warnock explains, the Mansions derive from an ancient association between the Moon and 28 groups of fixed stars that reveal its progress through its monthly cycle. In attributing these to degrees of the zodiac, the ugly issue of precession rears its head - do we keep the mansions aligned to the original stars (the sidereal mansions) or do we maintain the regular degree classifications and allow the mansions to drift from the stars from which they originally took their meaning (the tropical mansions)? Warnock makes his own case for respecting the tropical mansions, but he caters to all sides in providing the facility to refer to either. I was pleased by this because my own interest inclined more towards the use of the sidereal mansions, especially in the way that they illuminate the meaning of their associated fixed stars and constellations. That's another angle from which I think the book is to be recommended. Vivian Robson incorporated references to the Mansions of the Moon in his book The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology (1923) but they never meant much to me because he assumed knowledge on the part of the reader, which I at least never had! But now I am much more interested in that aspect of star lore, and far more considerate of the role it has played in helping to define star meanings. For me, the notion of the sidereal mansions remain impressive, as I think of the Moon as the lady of the night, moving from one group of stars to the next.

There is nothing too pretentious about this book but Christopher Warnock, in revealing the archetypal harmony that exists in the philosophy of lunar mansions, has done full justice to his subject and has hit the mark in presenting just what most astrologers want to know and what they need to know as well. This is a subject that most astrologers simply don't know much about, and for anyone wishing to know more there is no other book I can think of that would come close to the recommendation I would give to this.

Deborah Houlding
October, 2006