1. Planets and Cycles - Historical Ephemeris

The Historical Ephemeris

600 BCE - CE 2200

Astrological Cycles in History

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1. Planets and Cycles



The Historical Ephemeris
Astrological groundrules
in historical timecycle research

If you are new to astrology or to timecycle work, this set of groundrules should set you up with the essential knowledge you need in order to understand and work with this ephemeris.

Planets and Cycles

The basic mechanisms of astrology, as applied to historical timecycle research, rest on the following notions.

The outer planets

There are five major planets with average cycles of motion relevant to the study of history. These are: Pluto (250 years), Neptune (165 years), Uranus (84 years), Saturn (28 years) and Jupiter (12 years). All the other planets move too fast – and even using Jupiter is debatable - it is excluded from the timeline tables to avoid information-overload. The newly-discovered planetoid Chiron (51 years) is of interest to many, but its motions are reliable only in the last 250 years.

Measurement of position

These planets are perpetually in motion, and their position at any time is measured by their (tropical) zodiacal position on the ecliptic (the plane of our solar system). The zodiac is measured in terms of twelve signs, each with 30° (one-twelfth of 360°), and each degree can be precisely divided into 60' (minutes) to give very exact positions at any chosen time. Thus, the position of a planet at any particular time can be expressed as, for example, 20Pi43, which means 20 degrees 43 minutes of the sign Pisces. When a planet changes sign (an ingress), from 29°59' of one sign to 0°00' of the next, there is a marked change of theme and atmosphere in the collective psyche. The astrological houses used in ordinary birth charts and in mundane astrology (the study of specific historical events) are not used in timecycle research.


The planets each have an influence or vibrational frequency with particular distinguishable qualities. These qualities are central to astrology. These are examined later. Our solar system is a resonating system of which the planets are resonators of different qualities and frequencies within that system. This solar systemic resonance affects the ever-changing resonance or subtle energy fields of our own planet, thereby affecting us. It affects us through a semi-conscious sense we all have of the subjective nature of our times and the underlying themes and intensities of it.


Each planet has an ever-modulating cycle of relationship with each and every other planet. This strikes a succession of 'energy chords', as one (faster) planet moves around the zodiac in relation to any other (slower) planet. This movement is akin to the hands of a clock. One hand moves faster, one slower, such that successive conjunctions on a clock might occur at 12.00, 1.05, 2.10, 3.15 and so on, in progressing locations.

These chords (the adding of two or more single notes to make a resonant sound which is far greater and more sophisticated than the initial note) are identified in astrology by looking at the angular relationship between any two planets. Specific geometric angles (such as 60, 90, 120 or 180 degrees) create identifiable resonances – which can be harmonious or challenging.

Outside these specific angles, planets are variously dissonant or non-resonant in their relationship (creating noise or non-relationship) instead of resonant (producing a clear sound).


These angles are called aspects. The most significant aspects are conjunctions (0°), where two planets lie in the same location in the zodiac cycle, and oppositions (180°) where they are opposite one another. Other significant aspects are created by subdividing the 360° zodiac by factors of 3, 4, 6, 8 or 12. The aspects are outlined in more detail later.


Thus each planet has a cycle of relationship with the zodiac signs (called sidereal cycles), and a number of cycles of co-relationship with the other moving planets (synodic cycles). To these there are different periodicities.

Since we live on a moving observation platform (Earth, orbiting the Sun), it appears that the outer planets, from our perspective, annually move two steps forward and one step back. This apparent backwards motion occurs for around one-third of each year. They do not actually move backwards – it is merely a perspective as seen from the moving Earth (similar to a fast train overtaking a slow train and making it appear to move backwards).

This means that for many (but not all) aspects and ingresses, such aspects or ingresses can be spread out over a period, repeating themselves. In the timelines, since these forth-back-forth passes can occur within the space of one year, they will often be shown as only one aspect or ingress, or occasionally two, three or more if the aspect or ingress has taken place over two or more years. These protracted periods reflect the relative speeds of two planets - in other words, it takes time for the faster panet to aspect the slower planet. This is noticeable when Pluto, with its eccentric motion, is moving fast, when in or near the sign Scorpio - its speed is then not dissimilar to that of Uranus and Neptune.

This several-step process represents, in the shorter-term, a release of the past, a key transition-point and then an adoption of the future. Change is often a process, not a clear-cut single event.

The Astrology of History

History is astrologically understood by looking at aspects and ingresses of planets, and by gaining an understanding of what these imply, through observation of what has actually occurred in the past, plus astrological inference.

Astrological theory, as it has evolved over the millennia, gives some insight into what might be expected to develop at any time of history, through examining the component parts of the astrological situation at the time.

These components are:

1. the positions of the planets in the signs;
2. the energy-characteristics of any planets interacting with each other in aspect;
3. the qualities of the aspect(s) concerned and,
4. the stage on the unfolding cycle of aspects between those planets (particularly whether the cycles are waxing or waning).

Wheels of Time

There is never a deterministic, mechanical influence or effect of any astrological events and phenomena in history – just as there is never a way of predicting how people will respond to rain or sunshine, even though certain modes of behaviour might be expected on the basis of past experience.

Planetary motions set up subtle resonance-fields in time, offering, at any moment, specific opportunities, modes and parameters of thought, feeling and action. What humans actually do in relation to such energy-vibrations is entirely our choice, whether made consciously or unconsciously, and a range of responses is possible at any one time – often highly influenced by individuals or groupings in society who possess the position or power to decide, embody and enact such things. These are not always official power-holders.

Since we humans do tend to make our choices on the basis of past experience, and since we tend habitually not to consider and enact our full range of options (out of fear, ignorance, powerlessness, habit, or attachment or aversion to past events and strategies), much of our response to history's situations can indeed be rather mechanical and predictable, though they do not have to be so, and humanity periodically strikes out on a new trajectory. We have an unfortunate habit of creating war at times when forward-evolutionary possibilities become available, as if to try to resort ot default patterns, block change or, alternatively, create havoc and a suspension of normal, sensible social rules, within which change can occur.

Yet human free-will is the hidden 'Factor-X' in history, adding an ingredient of deeper psychology to all historical developments. Human fascination, accident and adventurousness can be critical factors at times. Astrology is a wonderful means for penetrating into the deeper aspect of human motivation, imagination and creativity, however it is polarised.


If you are new to astrology, such an information-presentation as this can be daunting or overwhelming. Yet the payoff for mastering the complexities of astrology is that its precision, concepts and grasp of things provides a useful tool for understanding many fields, including world history.

History itself is an ocean of imagery, information, periods, cultures, quirks and personalities which itself its vast. Yet bringing these two fields together gives us tools for the future, to see ways ahead by learning from our history.

There is an elegance to the flows, peaks and troughs which astrologically-identifiable cycles in history reveal. By spending time with this ephemeris, you can gain a sense of deeper drift in human history, of patterns, choices made and not made, climaxes and turning-points, reflected across the world in apparently independent cultures.

May this ephemeris bring you hours of absorption, much food for thought and bucketloads of stimulation, of historic proportions!

Next: the Zodiac Signs
Back: Introduction


The Historical Ephemeris
by Palden Jenkins
Astro-historical tables for 2,500 years

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