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Sabian Symbols...Real or Rubbish?
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Sunny Dawn



Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 144
Location: Brunswick, MD

Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 1:15 pm    Post subject: Sabian Symbols...Real or Rubbish? Reply with quote

Well,

I got myself into some trouble by playing the gender card in my defense of the Sabian Symbols, I see. Perhaps this was inappropriate, and I apologize. My tongue-in-cheekness doesn't always come through in text.

So will those who have actually tried the Sabian Symbols across a number of natal horoscopes and found them completely irrelevant please let me know.

And if you have tried them and think there may be something to them, please speak up.

But if you are denigrating them because they weren't in use in the late 1600's, you need a new line of logic. The world was flat back then, and the only reason for sailing west was to find a sea route to China. Times change, and a disdain for innovation mixed with reverence for the past will only get you so far (with no shortcut to China either).
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Mark
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Joined: 30 Sep 2005
Posts: 4924
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Sunny Dawn,

As another chastened offender I would like to put my position.

Yes I am traditional in approach but that doesn't mean I have contempt for people that want work within modern astrology.

If asteroids, outer planet rulerships, harmonics, and midpoints float your boat good luck to you.

Nevertheless, you seem to have bought into the mentality that new=good, old=outdated. The problem traditionalists have with many so called 'innovations' offered by modern astrology is that they take the art further and further away from basic principles to more and more abstract realms. Like most of those following a traditional astrology today I started off studying modern astrology for years and found it was all too easy to lose the wood for the trees.

However, I have a particular issue with Sabian symbols because fundamentally they are not derived from astrology. What do I mean by the word 'astrology'? I mean the attempt to represent astronomical reality in symbolic terms. Yes there are symbols here I concede. However, their source is purely psychic, and mediumistic not astrological.

The origin of Sabian symbols starts in 1925 when the Astrologer Marc Edmund Jones met the psychic and medium Elsie Wheeler in Balboa Park, San Diego, California. Working with Wheeler's channeled visions Jones developed a set of 360 separate and unique images with each of the 360 degree points given a cryptic verse.

Anyone that has worked with I Ching knows how this works. The words are vague, cryptic and unclear. However, one can find they sometimes hit the essence of meaning to our consciousness . Its almost similar to opening a book at random and looking for inspiration.

Actually, Sabian symbols are by no means the first or best attempt to represent the 360 degree points through psychic chanelling. The astrologer John Thomas, better known as Charubel assisted the astrologer Alan Leo for the purpose of helping him rectify the ascendents of horoscopes. Those degrees were published in Alan Leo's Astrological Manual in 1898 and again by Aries Press as The Degrees of the Zodiac Symbolised in 1943.

Kim Farnell has written an article on Charubel
http://www.kimfarnell.co.uk/charubel1.htm

Thing is if you want to do this why bother calling it astrology? You would be better working with an established system of divination like the I Ching, Runes or Tarot. I have practised all those systems and in their own terms they do work.

Alternatively, why seek to help your clients with astrology at all? Go straight to the source and refer them to a spirit medium.

Call me an uninspired literalist if you like but astrology to me has to have a foundation in the heavens above. If we forget that we are abandoning astrology for interesting but peripheral realms of the occult.

If you are looking for additional meaning from degree points I suggest studying fixed stars which are a highly useful additional resource rooted in the most ancient traditions of astrology.
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Ed F



Joined: 22 Jan 2008
Posts: 301
Location: Ipswich, MA USA

Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought that was a pretty reasonable analysis, MarkC. In nearly 40 years of study/practice, I have found the sabians (as well as other degree symbols/analyses) useful. Perhaps there is some psychic aspect to it. But at the same time, there's an overlay of harmonic analysis involved, at least as Jones presented it in his definitive edition. So, I can't completely agree that it's not astrology, since it attempts to analyze a cycle (and this needn't be restricted to the tropical zodiac). Certainly it's a different approach than, say, terms, or dwads,or David Cochrane's work, but it's still structurally of the same fundamental family of techniques: sub-analysis of areas of an astrologically meaningful circle.

You can no doubt tell that I'm not a traditionalist from the above, but my mind is open and I continue to learn.
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Andrew



Joined: 31 Dec 2004
Posts: 360

Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is not a recommendation for the practice of talismanic magic, but as I mentioned in a previous post, I'd like to point out that Christopher Warnock has published a book entitled Astrological Optics by Johannes Angelus:

Quote:
Astrological Optics is an English translation, first published in 1655, of a rare Latin book on natal astrology. It is invaluable for astrological magic because it contains a fascinating list of images for each degree of the Zodiac, perfect for fine tuning astrological talismans and talisman design to the user's Ascendant.


http://www.lulu.com/browse/book_view.php?fCID=229197&fBuyItem=3

Warnock writes that Angelus used these images to describe people born with a particular degree rising; for example, Angelus writes:

Quote:
In the 9th degree of Cancer there arises the image of a woman holding a distaff in her right hand. It imports a laborious person.


This particular set of degree symbols dates from at least the mid-seventeenth-century. As Warnock points out, Astrological Optics was highly recommended by William Lilly.

So degree symbols are not new. However, it's likely the earlier sets of symbols were derived from attempts to extract their significance from a consideration of the astrological factors involved, rather than from any alleged "channeled visions."
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Tara



Joined: 26 Apr 2006
Posts: 454

Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are quite a few degree symbol books out there. I like Martin Goldsmith's The Zodiac by Degrees.

In my predictive classes I read the Sabian Symbol for each student's current progressed moon and it's remarkable how well the symbol tends to describe what's going on in their lives at that time. And I also find the symbols often resonate very strongly for clients. It's a bit hit and miss though. Sometimes the degree symbol that comes up is a bit of a 'dud'; most times, however, it does amplify other factors quite nicely.

I'm of the school of thought that finds astrology to be oracular in nature so I don't have a problem with the clairvoyant origin of the symbols.

Tara


Last edited by Tara on Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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Yossarian
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Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:47 am    Post subject: Re: Sabian Symbols...Real or Rubbish? Reply with quote

Sunny Dawn wrote:
So will those who have actually tried the Sabian Symbols across a number of natal horoscopes and found them completely irrelevant please let me know.


They're quite silly in addition to being irrelevant and unnecessary. Clients find them confusing and they don't add anything to the interpretation.
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Tara



Joined: 26 Apr 2006
Posts: 454

Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yossarian wrote,
Quote:
Clients find them confusing and they don't add anything to the interpretation.

That hasn't been my experience.

Tara
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Deb
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 4130
Location: England

Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Following on from what Andrew wrote, the desire to ascribe symbolic images to sections of the zodiac is probably quite ancient. Here’s a little passage from Ezra’s 12th century Beginning of Wisdom:

Quote:
In the third face [of Taurus] there will ascend the end of the body, which resembles a head of a dog, and a man standing erect with a wild animal in his hand; he has two carts on which is seated a young man; two horses pull the carts, and the young man has a sheep in his hand. The wise men of India affirm that there also arises a man whose feet are white and likewise his teeth, which are so long they stick out beyond his lips; the colour of his eyes as well as his hair is reddish, and his body looks like that of the elephant and the lion; but prudence does not reside in him, since all his thoughts are bent on doing evil; he is seated on a cloth. There is also a horse and a little dog. According to Ptolemy there will ascend the right foot of him who bears the head of the devil, and the shoulder of him who hold in his hand the bridle, and his head, his knees, his left hand, his horn, the end of Taurus, and the beginning of a river … [it goes on].


I don't know who was the first to give each degree its own image, but symbolic images have been given to plenty of other divisions. I'm not sure where we draw the line between this, and the ancient attribution of symbolic images to the constellations and zodiac signs.
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Mark
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Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am aware there were medieval attempts to present the decans in symbolic imagery. Actually, its goes back much further than that.

For example the text of Liber Hermetis is full of such references. Other Hellenistic sources also have such descriptions. I seem to recall Hephaistio of Thebes in his Apotelesmatics mentions this but I may be confusing him with Antiochus.

Beyond references to decans there are also early hints to a tradition assigning meaning to each degree point. Unfortunately, we have only fragmentary records of this. Its quite unclear how these symbols were derived but some kind of psychic inspiration is quite plausible.

Nevertheless, as Andrew states:

Quote:
'' .....it's likely the earlier sets of symbols were derived from attempts to extract their significance from a consideration of the astrological factors involved, rather than from any alleged "channeled visions."


Perhaps that is why I have a particular aversion to modern attempts to do this based on Sabian symbols.

More generally I confess I want to align more with a tradition linked to astrologers like Ptolemy and Morinus that sought to give central focus to an astrology based on astronomical reality rather than the more occult aspects of experience. However, I dont deny that dimension has always been around. Considering the diversity of personality types its inevitable we will not all incline to the same approach.

I do feel that this is one area of astrology which is wide open to the accusation of simply being due to phenomena such as the barnum or Forer effect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forer_effect

Sabian symbols are so incredibly vague they leave open a multitude of interpretations. I assume thats a large part of their appeal. However, while astrological symbolism is fluid there is no mistaking what Moon square Saturn implies although the contexts may vary.

What are we to make of the Sabian symbol with a chart focused on 29-30 Aries?

'A Duck Pond And Its Brood''.

What profound insights are hidden in the Sabian symbol for 20-21 Sagittarius?

''A Child And A Dog Wearing Borrowed Eyeglasses''

http://www.cafeastrology.com/sabiansymbols_degreemeanings.html

If astrologers are going to reduce the art to such facile generalities they would be far better IMHO taking up a well established divination system such as the I Ching. That has genuine spiritual insights to offer the student which makes the Sabian symbols look like kindergarten material.

Clearly human beings have an innate tendency to create order out of chaos or the purely random. The ink blot test and Sabian symbols confirm this for me. I appreciate this is a rather dangerous argument as many would suggest the same principle applies to astrology in general. Nevertheless, it is when astrologers go over to totally nebulous things like Sabian symbols that I feel like giving up and joining the sceptics. Sad

As to the origin of the constellations and zodiac signs I think none of us really know enough about that to state any definitive opinion.
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Andrew



Joined: 31 Dec 2004
Posts: 360

Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Following on from what Andrew wrote, the desire to ascribe symbolic images to sections of the zodiac is probably quite ancient. Here’s a little passage from Ezra’s 12th century Beginning of Wisdom


As one whose Ascendant falls in the third face of Taurus, I can affirm that although I love to eat lamb (especially ghormeh sabzi [lamb stew]), my head in no way resembles that of a dog, nor am I accustomed to carrying wild animals in my hands. Shocked
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margherita



Joined: 10 Mar 2008
Posts: 1358
Location: Rome, Italy

Posted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Following on from what Andrew wrote, the desire to ascribe symbolic images to sections of the zodiac is probably quite ancient. Here’s a little passage from Ezra’s 12th century Beginning of Wisdom:


IbnEzra and Johannes Engels degrees share the same source.
IbnEzra took his degrees from Albumasar' Great Introduction to Astrology and Pietro Abano (1250-1316) translated a French version of IbnEzra book in Latin.
Some years after Abano wrote Astrolabium Planum, a book about 360 degrees of zodiac, which was edited and published by Engels during Renaissance.

Abano degrees are very different from Sabian symbols because they depend on paranatellonta, stars rising with the different zodiacal signs, and have their source in Teucer and Ptolemy works, as understood by Albumasar.
On the contrary, Sabian symbols were channeled by a medium, without any reference to astrology.
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Gem



Joined: 19 Nov 2004
Posts: 954

Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I, or anyone, psychic or non-psychic, can give our own images and impressions and come up with similarly vague and cryptic stuff, and they can hit and miss. People can find them meaningful if they want to.
But as been pointed out already, nothing to do with astrology.


Last edited by Gem on Thu Apr 24, 2008 4:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Gunhilde



Joined: 10 Jun 2006
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Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would have to agree with this:
Quote:
Clearly human beings have an innate tendency to create order out of chaos or the purely random. The ink blot test and Sabian symbols confirm this for me. I appreciate this is a rather dangerous argument as many would suggest the same principle applies to astrology in general. Nevertheless, it is when astrologers go over to totally nebulous things like Sabian symbols that I feel like giving up and joining the sceptics.


as well as this:
Quote:
I, or anyone, psychic or non-psychic, can give our own images and impressions and come up with similar stuff, vague and cryptic, and they can hit and miss. People can find them meaningful if they want to.
But as been pointed out already, nothing to do with astrology.


I think much of the time people who pursue the divinatory arts try to look for deeper and deeper meanings in, say, a chart; and much of the time, especially in horary, the answer is *already right there in front of them*, with as much meaning as anyone should ever reasonably need.

Humans do make things as complicated as possible ("Yeah, but..." being my least favourite two words in the world, when combined...This usually means the person is digging in their heels and refusing to see the answer) and often refuse to see what is simple and obvious, in place of what is complicated and, in the case of the dog with borrowed eyeglasses, absolutely mystifying.

But if people 'get' something from them, I don't see the harm in it. Whatever floats your boat. I prefer the I Ching when I want interesting symbolism, however...

Cheers,
GH Smile
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Gem



Joined: 19 Nov 2004
Posts: 954

Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just want to ask how many psychics can come up with the same symbols, or at least share the same themes in the Sabian Symbols? Unless a considerable number of them do, doesn't that mean S Symbols are only subjective and personal to the person who channelled them?
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Sunny Dawn



Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 144
Location: Brunswick, MD

Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:12 pm    Post subject: Interesting ideas so far, folks.. Reply with quote

I think its okay to accept revealed truth as a useful framework every once in a while. Certainly 1.1 billion Muslims do it with a revelation that came only once around 1300 years ago, and they're not asking how many psychics can come up with the Sura on the Cow.

It would seem fairly easy to test the Sabian symbols, at least in terms of how people self-report. You could ask a group of people who have their Sun on the same degree to read a description of that symbol, and one five or ten degrees away, and see how many folks pick the correct one for the degree of their Sun. It would help to use a fully detailed description, like the one offered by Lynda Hall, and not the highly abstract ones offered by Marc Edmund Jones.

For example, my ex and I have the Sun on the same degree, 24 Capricorn "A Woman Entering a Convent". I have done extended periods of time in isolated conditions. He not only entered the convent - he runs the darn thing (he is a high priest of a coven.)

Sure, there are always going to be purists who agree with Al-Biruni:

When this boundary is passed, where the astrologer is one one side and the sorcerer on the other, you enter a field of omens and divinations which has nothing to do with astrology although the stars may be referred in connection with them.

But isn't it more fun to go beyond Horatio and his narrow philosophy once in a while, particularly if so many folks have explored the system and seem to like it? This seems to the whole point of the defense that Cornelius is making for horary in The Moment of Astrology, which I am currently reading.
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