The Historical Ephemeris
by Palden Jenkins
Astro-historical tables for over 2,500 years
This ephemeris sets out to provide essential data for any astrologer, historian or modern 'natural philosopher' who is investigating cyclical change in longterm history.
It provides an overview of essential longterm astrological cycles, presented in two different key sections:
1. A chronological datelist from 600BCE to the present day, listing a selection of significant events in world history, alongside a list of major astrological phenomena.
With this it is possible to identify underlying patterns of meaning and change in the passage of time and recorded history. The astrological columns in the datelist show the aspects of Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and (from 1745) Chiron to each other, together with oppositions and conjunctions of Saturn to each of the outer planets, plus ingresses of the outer planets (except Saturn) into the signs, plus other phenomena such as Pluto's perihelia-aphelia, planetary crossings of their own nodes, and visitations of Halley's Comet.
2. A series of charts graphically illustrating all major outer-planet configurations (multiple major aspects) between 600BCE and 2200CE.
With these it is possible to see what's going on during successive 'power periods in history', in terms of aspects (angles) between the slower-moving outer planets and their zodiacal position.
The purpose of this ephemeris is to offer basic data, with only suggestive interpretative commentary – mainly in a series of articles written for Astrolore magazine (1998) at the end of the ephemeris.
This introduction and the groundrules section which follows will start you off in thinking about cycle-oriented historical astrology. Then the tables, linked with your own researches, will show the rest.
An evening spent perusing the chronological datelists will demonstrate to you the relationship between astrological cycles and historical trends and events. Then the diagrams act as a reference source for further investigations.
This ephemeris comprises carefully chosen, essential data for use in investigating longterm cycles in history. More accurate data for astrologically researching specific historical times can then be found by using astrological computer programs. The only problem here is that only some programs are accurate enough for use over centuries and millennia of time. For use in historical work, programs which calculate the gravitational effects of the planets on each other are necessary, or which refer to precise ephemerides going far back in time, should be used. These gravitational effects have a greater influence on Uranus, Neptune and Pluto's motions than on the inner planets of our solar system. However, most programs are sufficiently accurate for use in astrological work within 200 years of the present time.
Events selected in the historical datelist have been selected according to my own carefully thought-through criteria of historical interest and significance. Unfortunately, such areas of interest as social developments and trends tend to lack definitive dates – which means that many of the dates in the list are by necessity politically-oriented, though their wider significance is often hinted at in parentheses after the entry.
While I have sought to include as many non-European dates as possible, the sheer availability of European dates, especially in the last 500 years, skews this attempted impartiality. Many of the events chosen for the datelist have been chosen because they symbolise the nature of the time. In many instances, they cover some years either side of the precise date given.
While the greatest care has been taken in correctly dating and checking given events, there exist wide discrepancies in dating between different information sources and historians – and the picture changes as emergent research clarifies the kaleidoscopic world historical picture.
Please note: these datelists were compiled without prior consultation with astrological information. They were compiled with an 'historical eye' only. The astrological information was then edited in afterwards. This provides a control against cherry-picking of events to prove an astrological point. Surprising results emerged.
The astrological data was generated using Rob Hand's AstroAnalyst program in 1989. This was one of the few programs which were accurate enough at the time, including all the variables necessary, for calculating longterm motions of the planets.
Nevertheless, no program can be 100% guaranteed to be accurate, since no one really knows whether the current motions of the planets hold constant over millennia. No one can actually observe where the outer planets actually were in former times - we can only assume they were there according to current knowledge of planetary motions. But evidence in these tables suggests that our understanding of these motions is accurate. The figures for the planetoid Chiron are available only from 1745-2050: earlier than this, no program compiler is prepared to go, since Chiron's motion is eccentric and quixotic!
The AstroAnalyst program was made for financial market analysis, yet it has valuable functions which picked out and listed the necessary data for this ephemeris. The technical data for the program (related to the Astrolabe Nova program) was devised in consultation with Mark Pottenger (writer of the CCRS program, and equally accurate) and the late Neil Michelson, who generated The American Ephemeris. Between these three thinkers, we can rely on having the most accurate figures possible. A warm vote of gratitude to the late Neil Michelson for giving me the data to start this project, and to Rob Hand and Astrolabe (Cape Cod, Massachusetts) for giving me the facilities, encouragement and support to generate the data in full.
This ephemeris amply demonstrates the validity to historical trend-research of using astrology. It simply gives the data, plus some ideas, for you to look into the matter yourself. Here you will find plenty of data-evidence providing a safe correlation between human activity and astrological cycles.
Astrology and Planetary Movements
Astrology identifies a few different basic levels of functioning of the planets. Particularly, it is usually taken that the three outermost known planets of our solar system – Uranus, Neptune and Pluto – give indications of the dynamics of unconscious and superconscious, deeply-derived energy, ideas, initiatives, impulses and movements arising from the collective human psyche. Meanwhile, Jupiter and Saturn (and the other faster-moving bodies, the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars, which move too fast to be usefully included in this research) work within the realm of the known, the intentional, the planned, the conscious, and our thought-out reality. In natal astrology, these latter planets represent the make-up of the personality or the conscious, while the former represent movements within the unconscious-superconscious.
In an historical context, the inner planets (Sun to Saturn) can be construed to represent social-organisational forms, acts and practices, enacted by people, magnates, bodies and institutions, acting out of the viewpoint of their time. They constitute the matters of daily and annual life – Jupiter and Saturn affecting the qualities of years and decades, and the faster planets affecting the qualities of hours-to-months to a few years. The outer planets, in contrast, represent the spontaneously-arising movements of genius, improvisation, rebellion, contextual shift and fundamental change which make a bigger mark on history – expressing a quality of deeper life-force within humanity, whether moving through official, accepted channels, or not. Often the greatest historical changes come from unofficial, outside or unexpected quarters. Astrology makes a clear distinction between conscious-official and unconscious-unofficial levels of change.
Humanity has its own ego and deeper psyche: the ego-self is represented by laws, institutions and mores, power and authority, economic forms and ideological norms, while the deeper psyche is represented by those individuals, groups and movements, within or without any system, who wittingly or unwittingly infuse ordinary life with emergent macro-issues or new quantum changes.
As in the case of an individual person, society also has its fears, guilt-complexes, neuroses and madnesses (frequently demonstrated!), and is presented at every stage with opportunities either to heal and resolve issues that arise, or to perpetuate or exacerbate ills, illusions, oppression and destruction – or to invent new ways of expressing each.
Choice exists in human history as well as in the life of the individual – and this choice is particularly accentuated today. Would that collective, global choice were more consciously exercised!
History and Astrology
Historical-astrological research is at a crucial position right now: we live in times in which there is a greater-than-normal sense of history being made, and in which archaeology-history are in a period of fundamental reassessment, in the light of new perspectives and data. Also, the venerable craft of astrology has come upon computers, making for a massive leap in data-processing capabilities and accuracy, to match new standards of understanding arising since the holistic revolution of the 1960s.
Poised as we seem to be on the edge of a new phase of globalised human history, a fusion of two disciplines such as history and astrology is fortuitous: we have much to learn from the past and a great need to cease repeating its errors, lethal as our technology, human behaviour and world situation have become. Astrology, with its psycho-spiritual and analytical strengths, lends a new dimension to futurology, as well as to history. Its use in futurology is not in prediction – in my view, a rather unhealthy and neurotic practice – but in mapping possibilities and options for the future, within which we can use our free will more clearly. But, most important of all, there is the matter of orienting ourselves in the present, where past and future meet and inter-react. The bottom-line motivation behind creating this ephemeris is to help us understand our place in the present time.
Astrology offers an excellent and organic conceptual timeframe for historical analysis. It gives a detailed and precise way of identifying the kinds of currents and modulations involved in longterm changes in 'energy-weather' patterns. It describes the subjective, subtle atmospheric contexts within which the major moves and decisions of history are made.
The logic of astrology rests on the notion that subtle time-energies, here on Earth, condition our access to the infinite possibilities available to humans: each time-slice has a hologram of qualities to it which offers certain opportunities and certain restraints, certain inherent anticipations and certain aspirations. What we humans do with these qualitative openings and parameters is our choice: we often omit to exercise the full extent of our possibilities of choice – although this is still our choice!
As a member of humanity, each of us has an opportunity to make a slight difference to this world – and this influence gets amplified when many people move in the same direction, as in movements, revolutions and tides of change in the operational memes of human society. One hope behind compiling this ephemeris is that it adds to the fund of knowledge we need in order to make clearer, more effective and timely historical decisions, from this time on, whether we regard ourselves as creators or as consumers of time-influences.
Futurology of any kind must be genuinely valuable, and preferably accurate, in forecasting possibilities and probabilities for the future, and advising thereon – both for its own sake and for that of the future of humankind. Thus, such a re-examination of history (and of astrology in the light of history), apart from being intellectually fascinating, is of considerable potential usefulness in decision-making big and small, in crisis-response and in future history-charting.
While the predictive role of astrology has frequently been over-emphasised, astrology does have valuable predictive power – and for this reason, astrological data in this book goes up to the year 2200. But note that a prediction is a statement of possibility based on advance knowledge of future 'energy-weather' possibilities, plus a qualified, unbiased assessment of what results out of currently-known realities. It's this latter factor which makes for inaccuracies in forecasting. We really don't know what's going to develop and happen next.
As astrology inherently points out, some of our future history is human-made, in a planned, intentional way, and some of it is what simply arises, as an expression of the nature of the time, and of the outcomes of our previous acts – one British Prime Minister once said that the greatest problem for government is events. Many (but certainly not all) of the most significant historical changes and initiatives have been wrought in the hands of thoroughly unqualified, unprivileged, uncentral and unexpected people stepping out of nowhere. The inheritors of endowed power, insiders in any society, have exercised immense influence in history as well, and have 'channelled' through many of the imperatives and potentials the collective unconscious dishes up.
Fundamental changes arise in reliably unexpectable ways. And they come in waves: history can be seen in the light of 'power periods in time', around the time of major astrological configurations, where the potency of historical forces increases, compressing into time as major gear-changes in human life. And society uses the power of institution to stabilise and give form to human life and endeavour. Astrology gives us a framework for understanding the interweaving of "heaven, humanity and earth": it makes the Unknown just a little more knowable. It is a means for identifying and specifying the subjective nature of the time.
There is no direct and simple mechanical correlation between astrological and historical events and trends. In some cases, there are unavoidable correlations – for example, the coincidence of the French Revolution and a Uranus-Pluto opposition – but in many cases there are not blatantly visible correlations – for example, the Neptune-conjunct-Pluto-opposition-Uranus in the 1390s, superficially an unimportant time (but look deeper), or the 1490s, historically a very noteworthy time, when a major configuration might be expected but there isn't one! These instances do not refute the astrological-historical correlation: they simply point to that correlation being more complex, subtle and variable than a clockwork, reductionistic mind would seek. In this work, we do not look at events in isolation, but rather in the context of their significance in larger cycles.
What astrology addresses is the psycho-active ingredient behind history: there are frequently time-delays between the arising of an idea, impulse or image and its manifestation in the ordinary lives of majorities of humans. In other words, the technologies of today such as the motor car and plane were being worked on in backstreet workshops long before they came to the attention of the majority of people.
Additionally, there can be events which precede important movements in the psyche of the collective, which have a direct bearing on a coming astrological phenomenon! Some ideas take centuries to be implemented (da Vinci's helicopter, or the Chinese invention of movable type, or democracy), while others can be immediate. Sometimes a visionary leader or an individual can anticipate the nature of a coming time before it arrives - a recent example being Mikhail Gorbachev's pronouncement of perestroika and glasnost in USSR ten years before the 1993 Uranus-Neptune conjunction in Capricorn. Also, subsequent events such as the banking crisis of 2007 onwards would suggest that, back in the 1980s, while he applied these ideas to the Soviet Union, he was unconsciously referring to a global need for restructuring and openness which arose 20 years later. Twenty years in history is peanuts.
So, in your examination of this data, be prepared to use new ways of looking at history, time and change, and of perceiving the meaning in events! Be prepared to be both adventurous and rigorous: let yourself see thematic connections take shape, and check them afterwards, to see whether the connection stands the test of time, critical appraisal or comparison with historical parallels.
The logic of astrology holds that whatever starts at a conjunction between two planets develops through a sequence of identifiable stages of development, to reach its conclusion on the arrival of the conjunction which follows: thereby we are provided with a framework with which to draw various seemingly unconnected factors into one cyclical whole, to contextualise historical events. A full discussion of astrological technicalities for use in history, and of historical examples galore, follow in the series of articles accompanying this ephemeris.
Some useful links
Wikipedia: the History of Astrology
The History of Astrology (AFA)
The History of Astrology (Rob Hand)
Swiss Ephemeris: 9,000 years
Famous Astrologers in History
CURA: Astrological History
In Our Time (BBC): Ptolemy and Ancient Astrology
Ancient Astrology and Astronomy Resources
Astrology in the Renaissance
Astrological History Sources
Nicholas Campion: Astrology and History (YouTube)
Historical Astrology (Mundane Astrology)
NEXT: Astrological groundrules:
1. Planets and Cycles
The Historical Ephemeris
by Palden Jenkins
Astro-historical tables for 2,500 years