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Fixed Stars & Portents
Although there are more books coming out on the fixed stars these days, none that I know of treat portents (novas, comets, and meteors). We adopt a somewhat Chinese view of the Heavens with the stars as the principal seats of power or energy in the Celestial Empire with the constellations representing the provinces or nations, the planets as their governors, and the portents as special messengers, agents, and the decrees they bring.

Novas, as a study of history shows, represent paradigm shifts. The shorter term novas, such as 1975 Cygni, are often associated with small but important breakthroughs and major shifts in political fortune. Longer term novas, especially supernovas, are more often associated with massive shifts in consciousness and organization. The earthshaking changes associated with the supernovas of 1572, 1604, and 1987 support this view.

As we begin to consider Great Changes, time and the study of history in light of astrology becomes the key factor. Our approach to the philosophy of history and that suggested by cycles of aspects between any two bodies, is neo Hegelian. Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis resulting from the cyclic interaction of any two factors. This is also close to the alchemical view of 3 basic elements (Mercury, Sulfur, and Salt) and the Celtic emphasis on 3 forces as symbolized in the triskelion.

Stars, Comets, and Novas

These factors are beginning to interest astrologers again. The ancient Greeks, Ptolemy, and the Arabs all used them. The medieval and renaissance European astrologers used them. Today they are a mystery or a research item. In my experience, they are critical elements and need to be resurrected and reconsidered. I became interested in them after reading an article in the 1973 edition of Almanac Chacornac, a French astrology magazine. Later I found references among horary astrologers and then discovered Robson and finally Johndro. Now there are a number of books on fixed stars but none that I know of on portents (comets, novas, and meteors), and none that address both theory and practice.

Fixed Stars

The fixed stars, like our Sun radiate energy and are sources of energy. A few of them, like Algol for example, are effective by aspect as well as conjunction. The strongest conjunctions are occultations, cases where the planet and the star share approximately the same latitude. But conjunctions by Right Ascension and by Ecliptic longitude are effective even though the difference in declination may be very great. When there is a large difference in declination, some stars may form aspects to the ecliptic as a whole - the only possible conventional aspects are 0,30,45,60, and 90 degrees. This means that a third dimension exists in the celestial sphere which sometimes relates a star or comet to the entire zodiac. Johndro felt that 15 and 75 degree aspects were also of importance as connectors. Johndro thinks in terms of an hour series (360 / 24 = 15 degrees) of aspects. He also was of the opinion that conjunctions formed on or across the ecliptic are epileptic and those formed on or across the equator have a quality of "right action", are perceived as righteous and correct.

Note that the stars are characterized by their planetary nature and their constellation. In addition to this their types also tell us something of their natures. Binary stars are similar to Uranus and incite to revolution, sudden events and upheaval. Multiple (optical doubles, clusters, nebulae, etc) stars are of the nature of Neptune and indicate eye problems, sometimes blindness, and usually multiple effects - two careers, twins, double lives; as well as some mystery. Variables are similar to Pluto and indicate intense qualities that wax and wane and often erupt somewhat volcanically. Single stars are steady energy sources and simply amplify or depress the factor they are with depending on compatibility as do all stars. Also note that the fixed stars are a factor in the dignity of a planet in an horary or mundane figure.

There are some other ways in which fixed stars may figure in a chart and I will discuss them later. Current usage employs only the conjunction and sometimes the opposition. The fixed stars also indicate locations by correspondence of their coordinates with the surface of the earth. They can also be useful when the stars of a birth latitude or a city are studied. Transits and directions to these points are always interesting.

The main point, however they are used, is that the stars supply the energy, or, using Johndros analogy, the signal as in a radio or video signal. The planets are like receivers which accept the signal and then retransmit it to us giving it a context or form in the process. The planets are of considerable importance but the energy originates with the stars.

The best sites for fixed stars are Anne Wright's The Fixed Stars and Dianna Rosenberg's The Fixed Stars and Constellations . I don't find myself in complete agreement with everything on the sites but these are the most comprehensive I've seen. My intention on this site is to use them, explain them, and promote their use rather than to catalog them.


Novas are the deaths of stars, When a star dies it contributes the chemical elements it has manufactured during its life and during its death process to the cosmos, thus participating in a cycle of renewal. At this point the energy pattern of the galaxy in which the star dies changes, new patterns become possible and some disruption ensues. For a thourough but not too technical discussion of this see John Gribbin's Stardust. Astrologically a nova is an eruption of force and a breakthrough. The detailed nature of this change is shown by the figure for the first appearance of the light of the nova (first detection in this age of powerful telescopes and amateur observers) with effects lasting as many years as the nova was visible for days. While I haven't calculated it exactly, I suspect that the nova of 1604 (Keplers Star) is still in effect but is close to expiration. This method of determining the period of effect of a nova is based on the fact that the Sun is also a star and directions of a day for a year are generally effective in predictive work. After the nova fades, the point of it's appearance in both longitude and declination remains a sensitive point until the effects expire. The results of the nova often produce a new item such as a black hole, a much dimmer star, a neutron star, or a white dwarf or sometimes a pulsar. There is still something at the point of release but the important point is that it is the point of release whose energy has changed the matrix, shifted the paradigm, broken open the box. As this transformation proceeds the cosmos becomes a different place, the landscape alters and until the process is complete ( the period of effect) the point remains sensitive and influential.


Comets are remnants of the creation of the system which have been dislodged from their usual path to more unusual paths which closely approach the Sun on a periodic basis. They come to us from the far reaches of the system for the most part, from the Kuiper belt out by Neptune or the Oort Cloud at the furthest reaches of the system. Some of the short period comets originate around Jupiter, but unless they are bright, usually don't have much influence. The amount of light they reflect is small as they are small bodies, but as they approach the Sun, his heat enkindles them. Most are hardly noticeable if at all, but others rival the planets in their brightness and display spectacular tails. The brighter they are, the longer their period, and the nearer their perihelion is to a bright or significant star, the more pronounced will be their effects. Those effects are not those of the planets who reflect the light of Sol and transmit the energy of the stars, nor are they the same as those of the stars which radiate their own light. The effects of comets are a rearrangement and a disruption like a fire in part of a city or the lighting of a signal beacon. They show new connections and alliances, new patterns in trade and commerce, sometimes conflict. They have some similarity to Pluto in that they catalyze alchemical rearrangements. The ancient Chinese viewed them as messengers delivering the new decrees of Heaven and this seems apt - they are couriers from the fringes of the system announcing new arrangements and sometimes shifts in the paradigm. Occasionally one strikes us as was the case, it is thought, in 1500 BCE (see Julian Jaynes Bicameral Mind book) and causes massive and direct adaptation to violently changed conditions.

Although some astrologers see comets as a very temporary influence concentrating on the transit positions during the period of visibility, the points stressed by the ancient Greeks and found most useful in modern experience are the point of appearance (in modern times, of detection) and the perihelion or closest approach to the Sun. The point of appearance shows the effects of the comet from appearance until perihelion and the point of perihelion for the period of effect which is given as 1/8 of the comets period. By this rule Halleys Comet at its most recent perihelion in February 1986 at around 20 Aquarius, was in effect through August of 1995 which is 1/8 of it's period. The chart for perihelion gives details as to the nature of the message brought by the comet, use of the perihelion as a sensitive point during its period of effect shows how the message is received and implemented.

Traditional Notes on Comets

According to most astrologer's, comets' influence are thoroughly malefic. We have to remember that astronomically comets have no fixed orbit, and so seem to come and go as they please - rogues in the cosmic picture of the Platonist influenced ancients. In that sense, they carry with them extra-solar energies or influences, for they often come from the fringes of our solar system. Also, according to some scientists comets are responsible for introducing new genetic material to Earth (interstellar dust) and are major agents of evolution. Again, scientists have noticed that major disease outbreaks are synchronous with the passage of comets near our Earth. The Black Death for example and other epidemics.This theory is possible but the first large scale outbreaks of the Black Death in 535-540 CE can be traced to disruption in climatic patterns due to the eruption of a massive volcano near the island of Java, a comet could have been involved but we have no evidence of this at present ( see Catastrophe : A Quest for the Origins of the Modern World by David Keys).

Links to books mentioned in the article and others of interest appear at the end of the article.

Shapes and Colors of Comets

The color, brightness, and positions of appearance and perihelion are most important astrologically. The comet's period determines its duration of effect and of course, the longer the period, the more important and influential the comet.


According to the Greeks these are the shapes of comets and their associated colors

Shapes Colors

Pogomise (barb) deep hues

Acontiuas (lance) crimson

Xiphian (sword) metallic hues

Disceus (disc) amber

Pitheus (stringy) diffuse

Ceratias (corn) bright flaming colors

Lampadias (lamp like) bright hues

Hippeus (spinning, cylindrical) violent crimson

Humaine (human parts) whitish


Some of these shape and color combinations were probably in part due to atmospherics and it is obvious that such a system was based heavily on direct observation. Division into 9 types suggests attribution to the visible planets and the nodes. This inclusion suggests some influence from India. The following correspondences by planets (the supenals have been added) may shed some light on the above categories. Colors for the supenals from Sepharial and astronomy.

Sun : rose, mixed or streaked with silver; very bright and round without tails. Deaths of great men, deliverance of prisoners, mutation of things, establishment of a better order.

Moon : brown; white; crown and wreath with branches; large and extreme types Deaths of kings, queens, and princes; laws undermined and damaged; long illnesses among the masses.

Mercury : waxy or orange. Public discussions. minor or guerilla war in the place of the sighting of the tail.

Venus : yellow. Repeal and reversal of ancient laws, change of customs, establishment of the new.

Mars : red or orange. Drought, war, famine, terror; darkness and uncertainty; damage to trees and orchards.

Jupiter : silver. Abundance of expendable and mediocre life and fruits.

Saturn: black and yellow. War, deaths of great men; constrictions, a great setting in order.

Uranus : blues and sparkling colors Strikes, riots, revolution; emergence of a new order; coups, suicides, damage to industry and rail and air transport.

Neptune : pastels, especially greens. Disturbance in religion, episodes of spiritualism and vice; new drugs but also poisonings.

Pluto : black and crimson, smoky shades. Propaganda, sorcery, psyches, mass death, transformation; rise of charismatic and dangerous leaders.

Dragon's Head : dull red foil. Much argument, destruction of fruit trees.

Dragon's Tail : misty or obscure, a divided column with two tails. Death of great men, great malignance, drought and dissension


Note that there are also clues to the natures of stars based on color and that there are possibilities for combinations. The usefulness of this approach in modern times is questionable. There is considerably more light at night and more particulate matter in he atmosphere. Comets usually appear by telescopic detection rather than naked eye observation and astronomy photos are often shot through various filters or from space. These correspondences may still be useful when thinking in terms of the dispositor at perihelion or planets aspecting the perihelion position. There also seems to be some correspondence to events during the period of effect by transit and direction.


A partial list of comet significance by house from Cardan -

9th religious wars and contention; heresy.

10h change of government; unfortunate for the current regime; death of a king or ruling prince.

11th deaths in parliament, deaths of great or noble personages, disclosures of dignity

12th pestilence and contagious disease, damaging to wheat.


For meteor showers we have the following -

Multicolored with long lines (Mercury) : sedition and heresy

Dagger or foil (Mars) : destruction of towns and cities.

Black with short lines (Saturn) : long wars and sterility.


The sign in which the comet first appears gives information about it's nature. Aspects with planets and fixed stars must also be studied. Hale-Bopp for example appeared in Taurus, (and reached perihelion in the same sign but not in the vicinity of Algol) conjunct the malefic Caput Algol, a nasty omen. According to John Frawley, this was related to cattle, and genetics (Dolly the cloned sheep:and mad cow disease among other things).

Other Fixed Star Contacts

There are two other uses of fixed stars which should be mentioned. The star parallel and the promissor.

Star parallels

When a planet is conjunct a star that is in the same declination as a star conjunct another planet or in the same declination as another planet; there exists a parallel which acts as a mild conjunction between them (the two planets or points connected by the stars). An example might be Mars conjunct a star at 20N declination with Neptune at 20N, this creates a star parallel between them. Another variation is to have say Mars conjunct a star at 40N and Venus conjunct a star at 40N, then Mars and Venus have a star parallel. This connection acts as a mild conjunction and is of the nature of the two bodies being in the same energy field, on the same wavelength you might say.


When a star rises, sets, or culminates exactly as a planet rises, sets, or culminates during the 24 hours preceding the time of the chart, that star is a promissor and shows events in the nature of the planet with which it is so connected by later transit or direction to the promissor star. For example Mercury is exactly rising a few hours before birth and the fixed star Aldebaran is exactly culminating (on the Midheaven or directly overhead) this makes Aldebaran a promissor of Mercurial events in that chart when it is transited or when planets reach it by direction. This star is a promissor even if in the natal chart, no planet conjuncts it and it is not on an angle.


In summary there are four relationships or means of contact of the stars in any given chart. The conjunction or other aspect, the star parallel, birth latitude stars, and promissors. The parallel does not really connect any new stars to the chart but rather shows additional internal connections which may otherwise have gone unnoticed or have seemed mysterious. Portents are interpreted based on the chart of their appearance or, in the case of comets, their perihelion and have a defined period of effect during which their characteristic point (location for novas, perihelion for comets) is a sensitive point and shows their subsequent action by transit and direction.

These factors - the fixed stars, novas, and comets (comets, meteors and novas are often collectively referred to as portents) are most useful in mundane charts - those having to do with weather, politics, and natural and human disasters; but they are also useful in natal charts and, when connected with a significator or an angle, in horary charts.

Comets have some similarity to Pluto, novas to Uranus, meteors to Saturn, and the mysterious (like UFOs, mass visions, and such) to Neptune.

The techniques outlined have been tested in practice and the theory is primarily based on the astronomical features of the phenomena and its astrological implications. Apologies to non astrologers for any technical references which may seem opaque.

To follow, a list of comets and novas in effect and a few expired with their periods of effect; and an e-book containing this information and more. Comments are welcome via the contact page.


Some bibliographic notes

C. Ramus - The Ephemeris of the Great Comets 1402 - 1948 (available from AFA, last I checked)

W.Ramesey - Astrologica Restaurata (available from Renaissance astrology)

J. Cardan - ??? (Searching)

Almanach Chacornac 1973 edition ( French only and availability unknown)

Books mentioned in the article where available and others of interest with Amazon links

coverStardust by John Gribbin- the intimate relationship between stars and life. coverComet of the Century by Fred Schaaf- astronomical info on comets with a focus on recent visitors. coverThe Complete Astrological Handbook for the 21st Century by Miller & Brown- sumary and overview of astrological traditions

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind Julian Jaynes classic speculation on the origins of modern consciousness

Neurophilosophy : Toward a Unified Science of the Mind/Brain P.S. Churchland brings us up to speed on the developments in understanding consciousness from a neuroscience point of view in the last decades of the 20th century.

Astrological Aphorisms of Cardan Aphorisms of the 15th century astrologer as edited by 17th century astrologer William Lilly


Some authors on mundane astrology and some on fixed stars mention the effects of comets and novas as being similar to eclipses and give the lists of expected mundane effects of eclipses by sign. There is some merit in this view but it is not adequate.

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