*See, for instance, Alfred J. Pearce, The Science of the Stars (1881)—this book is not in the Yeatses' library, but another of Pearce's works was. Depending on the sign rising, certain rules are sometimes applied as to how long the forecast lasts, but the Yeatses only appear to have consulted the Vernal Equinox chart.
The Automatic Script in February 1918As a kind of preliminary indication of the possibilities that they were to explore, in January 1918 the script gave concentric circles labelled as those of horoscope, phases, equinoxes (YVP1 275, 310) and these are recorded in diagrams in the card file (YVP3 281, 296). The script of 9 February 1918 repeated these three wheels again and then instructed the Yeatses to draw up planetary charts for the Vernal Equinoxes of 1650, 1790, and 1850. Some of the charts that George Yeats created are preserved separately in the Yeatses' papers, cut out so that they are just a disc. These three years were explored inconclusively on 18 February 1918 (YVP1 344, 356–57). Later that month, the script examined the positions of the planets in recent years with respect to stars and phases—for 1914, 1916, 1917, 1918, and 1919—to analyse and predict the course of the Great War; again some of these are preserved in the form of cut-out discs.
It is not always clear which year’s chart is being discussed, and the analysis is vague and inconclusive. The scripts apparently predict "1919 announce peace" (though I transcribe this differently from the "Vision" Papers) and the "Restoration of [C]zar" (YVP1 362–65), so the modern reader is left with no illusions about the spirits’ powers of prediction. Yet such comments are mixed in with enough contradictions that the Yeatses could no doubt overlook them. The sessions do, however, also make use of an alignment of the zodiac with the phases of the moon, much of which can be worked out from the way it is applied in two or three scripts.
In more detail(Some of the treatment here may get a little technical. I have explained important terms; however, I have not given full explanations of all elements, as this post is long and involved enough as it is. As I reorder some of the questions and answers, I also include almost all of the script for 23 February, even though not all of it is commented on or used directly. There is a "too long; didn't read" summary at the bottom.)
On 18 February 1918, the Yeatses sat down to examine the charts they had been told to draw up for 1650, 1790, and 1850. The session was one where no questions are preserved; though some were clearly asked, the automatic script came relatively spontaneously and independently from the instructor Artemidor.* Although this script does not bring the phases of the moon in directly, it importantly sets up much of the structure and the parameters for the subsequent treatment.
the houses should be taken as 30 degrees & marked off as such taking [Pisces] on meridian marking off all degrees 1 to 30—
then [Gemini] falls at E [Pisces] S [Virgo] N [Sagittarius] west &
with a line between Aries and Pisces marking "place of Equinox 20"*]
yes I will wait ten minutes
The Year 1790It's not entirely clear what the Yeatses had calculated prior to the session, but, as calculated by computer, the Aries Ingress chart for Dublin in 1790 has Gemini rising—Gemini 26°15'—as does London, just, with 29°42'. Unlike the distorted houses used when looking at personal horoscopes, they were told to use a form of Equal House division, where each sector measures 30 degrees of the zodiac, and, in fact, with Mercury, at just 2° Pisces, to the left-hand side of the vertical, it looks as though they were using Whole Sign Houses where the houses coincide exactly with the signs of the zodiac and start at 0° of each sign (as used in Indian and Hellenistic astrology). They are also told to put Pisces at the meridian or top (though the actual Meridian or MC was in Aquarius—17°55' in Dublin, 24°18' in London).
Initially, it therefore looks as if they were anchoring the chart on the Ascendant, but, as we shall see below, they tended to use the same layout for all of the Ingress charts, whatever the actual rising sign, so the orientation may be more connected with placing the equinoctial point at the top of the chart. (However, the comment "take a year without interception" implies that they were looking at a full chart with the houses drawn up, as interception refers to the "oversize" houses of quadrant house systems, such as the Placidean one they normally used—see the horary charts they drew up in this earlier post.)
*As noted with the diagram of the two zodiacs, the question of where the sidereal zodiac should start is a complex and disputed issue, so the ayanamsa varies. Most of the exact values used nowadays were established/created in the 20th century. For a contemporary reading, such as might have been available to the Yeatses, see, for instance, The Theosophist 4:43 (Apr. 1883), 176ff and The Theosophist 7:75 (Dec. 1885), 184ff. which suggest a value of 20°24'15" for 1883.
|An attempt to reproduce the 1790 Aries Ingress chart drawn up by GY (from Astrodienst). |
This chart does not include the mark at "24 32 [Pisces]".
As GY was probably using historic tables for calculation, her chart does not include the planets that are only visible with a telescope.
The "fixed stars" are those GY gives but labelled with abbreviations based on the stars' Arabic names
Abbreviation in computer chart — GY's chart above
Mekb[uda] — [zeta] Geminis 12°14 iii
Poll[ux] — Pollux 21°1 i
Asel[lus Borealis] — North Ascellus 5°18 iii
Asel[lus Australis] — South " 6°29 iii.
Alge[di] — 1° Goats Horn iii
[ " ] — 1°45 [alpha] Capricorni iii
Dene[b Kaitos] — [illeg] Whales Tail ii
Alge[nib] — 6°3' Algenib ii
Alph[eratz] — 12°[?] Caput Andromedae i
The stars selected are not at all obvious choices by most criteria, apart from the two first-magnitude stars, Pollux and the
Head of Andromeda (Alpheratz), and even these are not included among the 15 "Behenian stars" of traditional astrological power.
First notice what signs stars & planets are at the [?3] points of circle then aspects then phase planet or star is nearest
No planets show tendency & events fixed stars & whether tendency will become sufficiently general to produce events
Signs show countries
The fixed stars are only of vital importance when on an angle near other planets—a fixed star alone unless on an angle is not important
The sensitive points are equinox [Aries] ([Venus]) [Taurus]([Moon]) [Leo] [Jupiter Mars] [Pisces] [Venus Saturn] — [Saturn] affects [Aries] being near
The greatest stars should all be in if lat[itude] lon[gitude] etc permits
Those you have are right but some are left out — I do not know what you call them but this is quite enough now
This is much more difficult because facts--that is why I am so slow
Give me 1850
* See Pearce's Science of the Stars or Wilson's Dictionary of Astrology (1819) (YL 2284, WBGYL 2301).
And, important though this session was to setting up the structure and to our understanding of the Yeatses' basic approach, there is no actual reference to the 28 phases of the Moon beyond the phrase "aspects then phase". This connection came when examining the contemporary years from 1914 to 1919.
The Years 1914 to 1919
|Aries Ingress for London, 11:11am, 21 March 1914.|
Unlike GY's charts, this chart contains the Sun, as
well as the as-yet-undiscovered Pluto.
1681 married James — now I will try and send her away yes
now give me 1914
died in childbirth
please have all other in hand
There is not much to say because it is so plain in looking at the figures
Martial — Stars at 22 — in [Cancer Gemini Leo] with [Mars Moon Saturn] & so on — now 1916
[Neptune] in leo
|Aries Ingress for London, 10:26 am, 21 March 1918.|
[Gemini Jupiter] [Venus] [?conj] to 22 peace for England — [Moon] & Pollux
Germany France & Italy famines etc
1919 universal peace
1. What do you deduce peace for England from.
no planets or fixed stars of evil nature in [Aries] or [Gemini] [Venus Jupiter] approaching 22 in [Gemini] [?ucs] of London
The instructor's demand for questions is where I place Yeats's first question, asking what indicates "peace for England", a phrase taken from the previous comment. And the answer responds directly as England (and most of northern Europe in some schemes) is assigned to Aries, while London is associated with or "ruled by" Gemini, so the absence of malefic planets such as Saturn or Mars from England's main signs is seen as positive. Russia was attributed to Aquarius, hence the reference to the conjunction of Venus and Uranus in Aquarius.
|Five lines down here comes the script |
"1919 universal peace" or maybe "1919 announce peace".
The transcription in YVP gives "1919 announce peace"; though I am not seeking to bolster the instructor's credibility, I read "1919 universal peace" which seems a little more in keeping with the progression from "peace for England" in 1918. This is connected to the two most positive planets, Jupiter and Venus, associated with Phase 22 (the word that I have transcribed as [?conj] for "conjunction" is given in YVP as "[?coming]", but the meaning is effectively the same). Though Venus is in Aquarius in this chart, it would come to Gemini and Cancer in the summer of 1918. Timing was obviously crucial here, but there was little help:
2. Can you make time measure from this figure.
Attempted political peace frustrated by Antares but [Jupiter] pollux [?trn] soon
it transits over the place of [Mercury]
July & August
3. How do you arrive at July & August
I cant tell you but for one thing
[Jupiter] transits 22 in July
The greater benefic, Jupiter, evidently brings some benefit to Gemini-ruled London therefore, although it is opposite the martial (and therefore negative) star Antares, which may be the reason for the frustration of political peace.* During July 1918 Jupiter entered the (tropical) sign of Cancer, moving from 27° of Gemini to almost 4° Cancer over the month. This is identified with Phase 22 and the possibility of peace. Since Jupiter takes some twelve years to go round the zodiac, this is a significant alignment that would not be repeated for another twelve years. Venus, in contrast, is closer to the Sun than Earth, so effectively tied to the Sun, and usually goes through all the signs of the zodiac every year. Though a long way from Jupiter in March, the fast-moving Venus arrived in Gemini and then Cancer in July, conjoining Jupiter in early Cancer at the end of July 1918.
|William Lilly's "astrological hieroglyph" from 1651 appears to associate Gemini with London and an imminent fire.|
† This day's script ends with the instruction to "Find out exact degrees ruling capital towns" (see below) and, since William Lilly apparently predicted the Great Fire of London using a particular degree of Gemini, it has been associated with London.
‡ Transit refers to a planet's current movements in relationship to the chart associated with a birthtime or, for a city/country, its foundation/creation, which remains fixed at that moment.
temptation through strength means war
1916 [Uranus] exactly at eleven
The next section considers 1917 and starts by attributing Italy's entrance into the war to the ingress of Neptune into its ruling sign, Leo. Italy declared war on different combatants between May 1915 (Austria-Hungary) and August of 1916 (German Empire), and Neptune entered Leo in July 1915, went retrograde back into Cancer, and then entered Leo for good in May 1916. (Strangely, the United States' involvement in the war is not mentioned at all.)
Italy came into war with entry of [?Neptune into] leo neptune
[Uranus] passing through [?those] degrees
all phases 1 to 15 internal & civil war all phases 15 28 war of military
This is very difficult — you had better question on another subject & I will work this in later
The script also refers to Uranus's passage through Aquarius, which has already been referred to in the context of Russia. But another detail causes a few problems, as it appears to refer to the fixed star Sirius. Sirius is some distance from the ecliptic, so its zodiacal position is not totally straightforward, but it is generally considered to have a longitude equivalent to ca. 13° Cancer (in the 20th century). This script appears to have it "affecting" degrees that Uranus is passing though in Aquarius (though the symbol used is less than clear). The simplest solution would be to identify a different star with a similar name, but "Sirius" is one of the clearer words in the script, and there is no obvious candidate for a star in the region with a name that could be confused. Another would be to take the word as referring to the Ascendant (located at about 12° Aquarius), but there is no clear connection. Nor is there any obvious astrological means of "affecting" this region, such as aspect or antiscia. (I'll be very grateful for any suggestions here—and here is the relevant script to consider.)
|Script with the [?]Sirius question. |
I have read the symbol in the first line as a spaced out Aquarius glyph, though this
may be wrong (the "Serius region" is later related to Aquarius).
Previously Phase 8 was linked to civil war and Phase 22 to war, but here the whole wheel is divided into two halves relating to civil war and military campaign, probably in reference to the Russian Civil War. After the instructor's complaint, the script redirects and returns to the year 1918, moving back to the prospects for peace and the astrological reasoning behind it.
7. Do [you] think peace will be political?
8. Why do you judge political?
because there is no [Mars] element — only [Jupiter Mercury Saturn Venus Neptune]
9. You say peace for England — do you see reason for connecting
other countries with the peace besides of course Germany.
Germany will make advance in March
neither she nor France & Italy will be able to go on after
10. Do you mean advance towards peace or an attack?
no on front — peace offer about June
immense military effort very [Mars] stars
Restoration of [C]zar
14. Why phase 12?
because the [Moon] etc at [conjuntion] Castor & Pollux
16. What is the time law?
16. There is only that of an exact aspect of a fixed star to either a planet or the ruling degree of a town
17. Do you mean exact aspect instant event.
18. What made you say Germany France Italy couldnt go on after March.
[Neptune] & [Saturn] in leo — famine & poverty
[Moon] & C[astor] & P[ollux] I explained
I desire to go on progress effort expansion etc
I said before no success
21. Do you find anything in figures to indicate nature of peace?
22. Why do you say "Draw"
stop 20 minutes — I am worked out
[Apple] another five minutes please
[Jupiter] in [Cancer] key to figure
[Jupiter] geminorum γ and 23
Going towards 24 — between 23 & 24
[Neptune] entering leo great spiritual & ecclesiastical revival
Regulus & [Saturn] passing away
Not a very close aspect — no good looking at aspects with F[ixed] Stars unless in three degrees of each other
yes a planet has effect but of a general tendency not a movement centralised
no fixed star & planet
War & spiritual
entry was war because of other aspects but it is spiritual especially [Jupiter]
That is what I mean by [Jupiter]
She will recover sooner
No go back to where she was before very soon — some disturbance in 1919 but isolated—
All these countries will be so busy reconstructing within themselves that one cannot give a world horoscope for 1919 because they are so to say subjective—
Regulus passing into Virgo
At 28 war enforced
unable to resist
Always brings war first then the construction of military power
It affected France before — long ago — 1790
Always exhausted — no time for military construction
β Tauri [Gemini] 2120 — exactly at 22
Find out exact degrees ruling capital towns
I am going now
Focus on the Alignment of Zodiac and Phases
2. All the references to phases are related to the positions of planets at a particular date or to fixed stars.
2. With these markers, whether planets or stars, even when the word "exactly" is used, it is unclear where they fall with respect to the phase mentioned—the beginning or centre or just somewhere within the range? Nor is it clear whether Yeats is using an equal division of the phases (with each phase roughly 12° 51') or assigning Phases 1, 8, 15, and 22 a full 30° each, while limiting the others to 10°.
|The alignment of zodiac and moon phases that seems to fit best |
with the automatic script of 23 February 1918.