An introduction to the astrology of nations and groups
by Michael Baigent, Nicholas Campion, and Charles Harvey
Published by The Aquarian Press
Paperback – 496 pages
Long out of print, this work is now available only from resellers. Hopefully, this will be reprinted in an updated form. This is a thick book. It is so densely packed with information; each chapter could easily be a book in itself.
“Could the nativities of the victims at Hiroshima all have indicated the death and ruin that overtook them on the fateful day of August, 1945?” – C.E.O. Carter
Clearly there is a place for looking at the larger picture of the cosmos when making specific judgments on individual horoscopes. At the moment we are in the middle of a pandemic which reminds us that we are all connected with each other, and the big picture tends to dominate people’s thinking.
Mundane astrology is the field to focus on the things that affect everyone, e.g., weather, politics, war and peace, etc.
Published in 1984, this work remains the single most comprehensive work on mundane astrology. It is scholarly, yet written in a clear and approachable manner. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only book to cover the entire scope of how astrology describes the larger dynamics of group consciousness and social dynamics. The review of human history and the accompanying astrological development is comprehensive. The overview of the existing records from previous astrologers gives great insight and a pleasurable read. The authors share a mountain of original research and carefully crafted thoughts.
Our clients want to know from us: “Who am I? What will happen? And finally – Why is this happening?” This book is an admirable attempt to answer all three of these questions for the whole planet, but also specifically for various groups within our world. The three authors have done a marvelous job of covering these issues. However, even though this work is a masterpiece, the authors present this work, not as final answers, but instead, as opening shots and a foundation for future exploration. For us on the front line of astrology, it would be impossible to overestimate the importance of this valiant effort.
Why this book?
Yes, there have been many other books before and since that have taken up the task of examining astrology and the fate of nations; other works that have examined earthquakes, historical migrations, and other collective phenomena. But this work ties all other explorations of these various subdivisions into one neat series of interlocking principles.
Five important points separate this work from other books written on this important subject:
1) Depth of insight which emerges from comprehensive indexing of preceding works.
2) This work does not shy away from fundamental questions even when they don’t have readymade answers. It is an admirable attempt to answer why things happen by putting events into a larger context.
3) It puts mundane astrology in proper perspective of other divisions and fields of study within astrology.
4) The authors are intellectually honest and give the background of their thinking. They present ideas and offer opinions without claiming any final conclusions.
5) Because we have before us a collective effort between three very competent astrologers, we can take ideas from here and use them directly in our lives.
How the book is organized
The book is divided into four parts, comprising 15 chapters. At the end there are six appendices, and a very useful index. “Mundane Astrology” has a natural rhythm, each section building on the one preceding it. The chapters within a section form an interlocking approach to the subject as we move from the general to the most specific. Part One (chapters 1-4) gives the history, philosophy, psychology, and definition of mundane astrology. This is brilliantly written and lays the groundwork to absorb the rest of the book in context. Part Two (chapters 5 -8) gives the substance of what we use in mundane astrology, i.e. cycles, planets, houses, and signs. This part of the book is a standard reference on planetary cycles, peppered with many illustrations from recent and past history. Part Three (chapters 9-13) shows various techniques in use in mundane astrology. Part Four (chapter 14-15) provides the possible applications of the techniques through a historical study of war, peace, and national destiny.
Each chapter has comprehensive endnotes and a very complete bibliography. This makes each aspect of the work readily available for deeper study. Every one of the appendices has pertinent information but putting this information at the end keeps the whole work from being cluttered. Even the index is laid out in a helpful manner: separated into an index of places, index of people, and general index.
Part One: The Background
Chapter 1. The Development of Mundane Astrology from the Babylonians to the Arabs
This is a comprehensive history of astrology from verifiable well-researched primary sources. It clearly demonstrates, through the many examples, how mundane astrology predated every other type of astrology. The author explains carefully where his own historical prejudices come from.
Chapter 2. The History of Mundane Astrology in Europe from AD 500 to the Present Day
This is a calendrical accounting of mundane astrology as it developed and was employed during a 1500 year period. This amazing summary shows how astrology kept being employed, even though most astrologers appeared to not be very good at their craft. The ebb and flow or its use seemed completely divorced from its accuracy in the late middle ages up to the modern world. Emphasis is on Europe, but examples from India, Cambodia, and Saudi Arabia are also given.
Chapter 3. Mundane Astrology and the Collective.
With a description of individual actions and beliefs, starting with Ptolemy, the author employs Jungian psychology’s concept of the collective unconscious to describe how a group of people can be corralled to act against reason, and to parrot the ravings of a dictator. While describing the astrology of Hitler’s rise to power, he gives a plausible explanation of how and why this comes about. This gives context to how one person can reflect the atmosphere of a nation.
Chapter 4. The National Horoscope: Mundane Astrology and Political Theory
The “body politic”, and what it means to be a nation, are explored. National charts are used to show how the process of change can be understood as a manifestation of cycles.
Part Two: The Material
Chapter 5. The Great Year
Since the beginning of human civilization, there has been an attempt to understand fundamental questions of life and existence, of whither and whence. The author carefully documents attempts to understand the larger picture of what we can call the Great Year. It is a fascinating journey through the history of how people equated one cycle with another: daylight and darkness, the lunar cycle, the recurrence of the season, and the movement and conjunction of planets to the birth and death and rebirth of all of life. The author describes the mathematical origin of the idea of yugas, the precession of the equinox, the exploration into divisions of time. Early and failed attempts at establishing the astronomical basis of the Great Year still gave us division of our day into 24 hours, with 60 minute hours and 60 second minutes. This chapter shows the great progression of time measurement and thought from the Assyrian’s to the present day.
Chapter 6. Cycles in Practice
This chapter leans heavily on number theory, repetitive cycles, and the groundbreaking work of the late John Addey. Astrologers are human beings with experiences and prejudices that cloud our assessment of any situation. The author makes the brilliant argument that we can escape our own shortsightedness by seeing events in terms of their position in a larger cycle of events. “For with our own inevitable personal, political and cultural biases, it is only with this larger perspective that we can attempt to see cycles whole…All signs and seasons are necessary and essential or they simply would not continue to exist! Seeing cycles in their totality can help us to cultivate an approach which attempts to see things for what they are, and as part of a larger scheme….As Plotinus observed ‘Those who find fault with the Cosmos make the mistake of considering it in part’….” We have here a carefully crafted, elegant statement of the dilemma all astrologers confront, how to see the working of the cosmos beyond our own experience and pre-judgments? Seeing every movement as part of a necessary cycle is our rational solution. This argument on pages 149-152 is worthy of careful study and one of the most important points in the entire book.
Length, meaty, and packed full of immediately applicable information for the practicing astrologer, this chapter delivers a truck load of useful and thought provoking information. Even minor aspects like the Septile, Quintile, and so on, are not only defined in their outgoing and income phases, the author gives solid historical examples that illustrate and verify even the most minor divisions of a cycle. All ten major planetary cycles between the five most outer planets are documented in some detail. By simply stating events occurring at the beginning of each planetary conjunction, the door is open for further research. This part of the chapter leans heavily on the works of the late Andre Barbault, who was the greatest mundane astrologer in our lifetime. And if you can read French, you can examine his 50 years of research in the original. Some of his notable works have been translated into English. We also receive quotes from Jayne, Rudhyar and others.
Chapter 7. The Planets
Although the meanings of all planetary bodies remain primarily the same in mundane astrology as they have for natal and horary practitioners, the author has expanded on them somewhat through the insights given to us by H.S. Green in his book on mundane astrology. Liz Greene in her lectures, “The Outer Planets and Their Cycles” is also a source of reference. As the author points out, there are certain characteristics of each planet that only have meaning in our mundane work. Again, we are carried through a number of current world examples to drive these meanings home.
Chapter 8. The Houses and Signs
The houses get an expanse from natal astrology when we apply them to nations, even though their core meanings stay the same. These descriptions are succinct and usable. The signs of the zodiac is a different animal for the author; rather than giving a detailed description of each sign in mundane work, we are carried through a number of prime examples of planets transiting through the tropical zodiac and their efficacy. I might add, I have used them in my own work in this manner and have not been led astray even once in 45 years of practice. As Grace Morris correctly stated back in 2018, when Jupiter (planet of expanse) is in Sagittarius, which it was in 2019, travel and leisure stocks would go up. She encouraged people to invest in stay at home stocks when Jupiter went into Capricorn in December 2019.
Ebertin is mentioned for the transits of Pluto changing signs and Virginia Elenbaas for Neptune transiting a sign. Interestingly, Stan Barker’s excellent book on the Transits of Neptune in, ”The Signs of the Times” was being published at the same time “Mundane Astrology” was coming out. And there have been so many useful books since then. Yes, mundane astrology is an ongoing effort.
Part Three: the Techniques
Chapter 9. Ingresses, Lunations, Eclipses
What makes this chapter so interesting is the blazon honesty in the statistical analysis of the charts used for charts of ingresses, lunations, and eclipses. They must be seen in a larger context to be valid. Surprise!, they don’t work the way many astrologers engaged in world predictions claim. One interesting astrologer’s work (E.H. Troinski) is only available in German. I haven’t read any of his work but the authors here claim Troinski does demonstrate that there is value to these charts. Preliminary results are included here.
Chapter 10. Where on Earth: 1. Astrocartography
The math and astrology of Astrocartography are explained in detail with ample examples of these maps to describe material world events.
Chapter 11. Where on Earth: 2. The Search of the Earth Zodiac
The main thrust of this chapter is to correlate the signs and degrees of the zodiac with line of longitude on the earth, or in other words to be able to lay the zodiac across the globe. Since this book came out, the Canadian astrologer, Chris McRae, has published much on the use of geodetic equivalence.
Chapter 12. Where on Earth: 3. The Astrology of Towns and Cities
While this chapter is interesting for its historical value, since this was published, more has been added to clarify this technique of using the charts of specific location. Nicholas Campion has done much work in this area since this manuscript was published. He is the world authority on this subject.
Chapter 13. Other Techniques
We are confronted with a dizzying array of other ways and tools for approaching mundane events. The charts of national leader, declination cycles, degree meanings, fixed stars, the galactic center, the super galactic center, the solar apex, heliocentric astrology, planetary nodes, the asteroids, Chiron, New Years charts, horoscopes for the century, astro-ecomomics, graphic ephemeris, horary astrology, are explored. It seems that the author went “all in” to be sure to include everything that could possibly be used. This chapter needs to be taken slowly, with time spent with each technique introduced.
Part Four: The Application
Chapter 14. The Astrology of War and Peace: A study of the Second World War
Part 1: Collective Pressure
Part 2: The Cyclic Background
Part 3: Astrological Timing
Each one of the three authors takes a turn at describing the astrological roots and progression of WWII. There is real value in the careful analysis that each person brings to the timing of war and peace. This part of the book reads like an historical novel. The documentation is accurate, detailed, and exciting.
Chapter 15. The Astrology of Nations
This concluding chapter has a good historical rendering of the chart for Great Britain, the USA, Russia, and China. Then the chapter concludes with charts for another 14 countries. It was only 4 years after this work came out that Nick Campion gave the astrological community, “The Book of World Horoscopes”, which is the authoritative reference work in mundane astrology. This winner of many awards is in everyone’s library that does mundane astrology. The most recent update of this work was in 2004.
The six appendices are guides for the book, and are helpful in navigating the complexity of this world, and of the collective thought on the state of our craft and world civilization.
My relationship to this book
Even though I read the book like an engrossing novel early on, it has been a standard reference work through the years. Many workshops, newsletters, and at times, work with an individual client, have been affected by these ideas. I have plunged into some section of this work for clarity, inspiration, and avenues of research. This work is a smorgasbord of astrological scholarship and ideas.
Mundane Astrology is a must read for every astrologer. While the ideas could be obtained by doing your own work in this arena, it would take you several lifetimes to reproduce the depth of scholarship the authors give us. The book is that comprehensive in its scope. This book is not an end game but a starting point. Astrology is vast, but this work provides an important organizing tool for helping any student of the human condition (astrologer or not) get a handle on the fundamentals of our real situation.
It is through the study of the meaning of the cycles outlined in this work that I have been able to overcome the prejudices born of my limited human experiences. This has allowed me as an astrologer to render judgments based on larger significance of events beyond what I would personally hope for or like to see happening. This work has contributed immensely to my person growth.
Book reviewed by Bob Mulligan