Volume 4: Number 2 Summer 1980

From the 'Rosarium Philosophorum' 16th cent. Stadbibliothek Vadiana, St. Gallen, Ms. 394a, f.64.
Shows Fermentation or conjunction with the two bodies in a volatile state (hence the wings).

Editorial: The Way and the Name
The Way of Alchemy
The Essential Krishnamurti
Astronomy for Astrologers V

Parachemica Contents



The way that can be told
is not the constant way;
the name that can be named
is not the constant name
Lao Tsu.

Although the name of the Way for many of us is Alchemy; although we work at transmutation on our inner selves thru' work on our thoughts, emotions, our bodies and with herbs, minerals and daily experience - the Way and the Name cannot be told or named.

It cannot be packaged or circumscribed. We need and use methods and techniques. We must apply theory and technology on the Way, but The Way is One and the methods multitudinous.

We can only find the Way within ourselves and for each one the Way appears different, for each one has different lessons to learn, different experiences to understand, different seasons for different tasks different heights to be climbed - all because we each begin in this life at a different time and place as far as our personal evolution is concerned - but nevertheless there is only One Way and It is for each of us to discover alone.

Therefore it may be quite valid for one student at one time to be deeply involved with resolving a problem of finances and employment, whilst another must find a deeper understanding and control over his negative self-destructive emotions with the aid of astrology, whilst another can seem to get nowhere until she has overcome her dispersion of energy and lack of focussed effort the QBL may aid her here, whilst yet another is totally absorbed in the intricacies of mineral extractions in the laboratory and finding the properties of matter and fire.

Each one of necessity may find themselves needing to work on a different aspect of self at a different time.

This is valid and a part of the Work and the Way, so long as our Will is focussed on the One Way, the constant Way of the One Will, for many are the diversions, the side-tracks and the mini-wills of the ego-self.




In this present day and age man approaches the Unknown in the name of Science with an analytical mind which reaches the point where specialists of different disciplines are at a loss to communicate to those other than their own. Science is reaching an unprecedented degree of differentiation where detail is the name of the game, with the result being an unsystematic piecemeal unfolding of knowledge of the cosmos. But the almost forgotten root of exoteric and esoteric knowledge is alchemy.

Encountered in the practice of alchemy is the conjunction of philosophy and laboratory practice, science and art, the objective with the subjective. Whoever understands the fundamentals of alchemy will understand the essence of all else, as all things are seen from the inside rather than the countless outer forms and diversities of nature - in fact,the forest is seen, not only the trees. Rrom this point of view all knowledge becomes systematized, in alchemy, into Unity. That which enables the unity to unfold is Spirit - a primary concern of alchemists. When art is based on the dynamic symmetry and harmonies characterizing the forms of nature, when science sees the natural kingdoms (including mineral) as living, and respects them as such, then this spirit is approached. It has been said that alchemy is evolution of spirit, and evolution is the raising of vibratory rates recalling that 'all is vibrating; all is in motion', as put forth in The Kybalion by Three Initiates.

The predicament of man at present is a sorry one, perhaps typified by our urge to utilize nuclear energy with a questionable moral maturity in accepting the responsibility involved. On an individual level our lives are dogged by psychological and physical malaise, all because we have forgotten our true heritage our true spiritual selves. It is through evolution or alchemy, that we realize (i.e. make real) our potential Godhood according to, and within the laws that Nature herself utilizes. Nature brings her creations to a preordained state of perfection through the processes of birth, death and rebirth (Solve et coagula), which has the effect of raising the vibratory rate of the entity towards an awareness of its own wholeness. While Nature unaided works over an immense expanse of time, the alchemists imitates these processes, but condensing greatly the time factor. The natural world is separable into three kingdoms of varying relative vibratory rates,from vegetable to animal, with the mineral kingdom the uppermost. The vibratory rate of a specimen from Nature is raised in the outer laboratory, and is then used by the alchemist to raise his own vibratory rate (ie. give and take) with the agency of metals in the mineral kingdom representing the final stages.

The literary trend at present which poses Alchemy as purely psycho-spiritual denies the validity of its cornerstone law, 'as above, so below'. If transmutation can occur on the psycho-spiritual level, it can certainly occur on the physical level as the principles involved are identical. Alchemists observe that the fruit of perfection is contained within the seed, and it is this 'seed' that is focused on in the laboratory, being sagaciously separated from its impure and often toxic 'husk', purified and integrated by the sensitive use of the four elements to bring forth a transmuted, perfected substance, reborn at a higher vibratory rate. Spirit has been grounded in Matter.

Modern science postulated that the building blocks of the universe are the 102 or so 'elements', but Rutherford soon demonstrated otherwise, with the discovery of subatomic particles. What is knowledge now, has been and probably will be in the future erroneous, as it is knowledge that is subject to change. It is Truth that is not. Alchemy asserts that the primary building block of the universe is the 'First Matter', remaining hidden in, but permeating all creation, perhaps known better by the name 'spirit' or 'archetype'. The hard-won truths of the alchemists have been promulgated in thousands of volumes in veiled language to confuse the uninitiated, and the logical extensions are staggering. One such extension has been the discovery of nuclear physics by exoteric scientists. Is it any wonder that the Alchemists of old veiled their theory in practise to all but the worthy?

The attention of the majority has been focused on alchemy due to its claims of the transmutation of lead into gold. Let this be understood that this is possible, and has been witnessed and recorded by reliable persons many times. Such a power has been in the hands of those who have earned the "Grace of God", with arduous years of meditation of labour over the furnace. It is the by-product of a selfless heart and the desire to alleviate the suffering of mankind by the preparation of powerful, but gentle elixers, which enable the psycho-spiritual and physical health to be restored. The raison d'etre of alchemy is the raising of vibrations, both in oneself and in the medications created in the outer laboratory - it is the search for perfection and the greater life of the Initiate.

Most people on the spiritual path have experienced what has been described as 'highs', 'ecstacies' and mystical experiences. but in a relatively short space of time have completed a cycle, returning to consciousness of the physical and personality levels. A change in consciousness is reflected by changes in the physiology and structure of the body, but due to the inertia of the physical plane, the changes are minute. The changes in consciousness have to be repeated many times before they become stabilized in physical vehicle which serves as an 'anchor'.

Alchemy is a path that works very much on the physical plane, utilizing natural elixers to gradually transform the Body by purification, detoxification and regeneration, making it a suitable vessel to consciously receive the finest of vibrations that permeate the universe continuously. Transmutation is carried out simultaneously in the psyche (soul) of man, by the awareness and application of cosmic laws in daily life (such as the law of Karma, as above so below, etc), along with the internal use of elixers for his own health, and the service he renders to his fellows by making available the medicines.


The understanding of the basic principles of alchemy require neither a background in chemistry or medicine, or any other academia. The only requirement is a right motive and commonsense. Alchemy utilizes very simple laws which are manifold in their application.

1. All is unity

Alchemists conceive the universe as being Divine and the manifestation of the one God. Nature and its laws are the very outer expression of the Godhead. In the words of The Kybalion, 'The All is mind, the universe is Mental'. The one God is best described in terms of the three essences (see below).

2. Duality

All manifestation exists by virtue of dual forces. Perception and conception can only exist where an object is relative to, and in contrast with another. Some specific examples are - a) 'As above, so below'. This is a great law having many applications. It is the law of correspondence of the planes, indicating that whatever exists and is created in the inner worlds (as well as celestial influences) is reflected simultaneously in the outer physical reality. once this is accepted as a living law, the activity occurring on the inner psychic planes can be accurately ascertained by observation of the events, objects and relationships that come into outer life. True awareness of this law obliges us to take responsibility for every aspect of our lives. If an outer circumstance is felt to be inharmonious, then it can be changed effectively by inner plane work. 'As below, so above' - indicates that our outer actions have a corresponding effect on the inner planes (this leads to so-called Karma). Laboratory work, i.e. manipulation and regeneration of physical substances and elements, etc., leads to the transmutation of the corresponding psychic archetypes. Jung termed the Alchemists concern with physical matter, 'projections of the unconscious' onto that matter, which is valid, but only half-way there.

b) Polarity. Everything consists of two polar opposites; everything has an opposite pole to itself, where the poles differ only in degree. A simple illustration is heat and cold, which are different degrees of the same thing temperature. Where does heat begin and cold end? What we see as hot and coldi aepends on the situation, so we may conclude that it is a matter of relativity. Manifestations of heat/cold, light/darkness, love/hate, fear/courage, good and evil are 'merely a form, variety and rate of vibration', as it is put in The Kybalion. It is possible to effect a change of one pole to another, within this 'form, variety or rate of vibration'. It is the detested weakness in ourselves, that once transmuted become our very strengths, to push us on towards the One.

c) Gender. All creation, generation and regeneration is not possible without the male/female principles interacting. Every female contains a male principle, and every male, the female.

3. The Trinity

Of primary concern to the Alchemist are the three essentials, or great Trinity which comprise all manifestation. In Alchemical literature they are the much confused Mercury, Sulphur, Salt, and are often referred to as the Three-in-One.

a) MERCURY (Spirit) Mercury, to an Alchemist is the most important concept and physical essence. It is not to be confused with ordinary metallic mercury, and is known under a variety of names, such as Water of Life, Prima Materia, Water of the Wise, Philosophical Mercury, Seed, Bird Without Wings, Heavenly Water and Azoth. In simple terms Mercury is as every thing is, polar in nature.

Kingdom    Physical Pole    Non-Phys. Pole

Animal         Blood                Life-Force

Plant           Alcohol              Life-Force

Mineral        Alkahest            Life-Force

The blood, alcohol and alkahest serve as vehicles, in their respective kingdoms, of the life-force, thus when the alchemist works with these substances, he is working with living entities. Alkahest is described as an inflammable, clear, very volatile liquid which is contained wholly within the mineral. In the Collectanae Chemica (Anon), mercury is spoken of thus:

"All true philosophers agree that the first matter of metals is a moist vapour raised by the xtion of the central fire in the bowels of the earth, which, circulating through its pores meets with the crude air, and is coagulated by it into an unctuous water adhering to the earth which serves it for a recepticle, where it is joined to a sulphur more or less pure and a salt more or less fixing which it attracts from the air, and, receiving a certain degree of concoction from the central and solar heat is formed into stones and rocks, mineral and metals."

Hence it appears that the first Matter of metals is one thing and not many; homogenous, but altered by the diversity of places and sulphurs with which it is combined.

Mercury is thus the archetypal idea of all entity, just as the idea of flower exists above and before the manifest flower (the seed contains the fruit) and Adam Kadman exists above and before terrestrial man. In terms of gender, the Mercury is of feminine polarity (but contains within it certain masculine characteristics), symbolized by the moon.

b) SULPHUR (Soul) Again, it must be understood that the sulphur referred to here is not common brimstone. The physical/non-physical polarity is,

Kingdom    Physical Pole    Non-Phys. Pole

Animal        Oil                     Consciousness

Plant           Oil                     Consciousness

Mineral       Oil                     Consciousness

It is the role of Sulphur to coagulate; and to concentrate the life-force in one physical location. The organizational aspect of Sulphur maintains the human organism with its different organs as one cohesive unit.

Macrocosmically solar gravitational attraction sustains the orbits of the planets which maintains the harmony and rhythm of the solar system unit. In the Collectanae Chemica; 'these three kingdoms do not indeed differ in their virtue nor the three sulphurs, as every sulphur has the power to coagulate its own Mercury; and every Mercury has a power of being coagulated by its own proper sulphur, and by none other which is a stranger to it'.

Sulphur has the masculine polarity attributed to it, symbolised by the Sun.

c) SALT (Body) Salt is the substance that exoteric science deals with exclusively, but it is not common table salt. It is the familiar salts of the mineral kindgom as well as the mineral ash of the plant and animal kingdoms. The non-physical polarity is the subtle vehicle in all three kingdoms.

4. Four Elements

These are the four elements of the Sages Fire (heat), Air (Gases), Water (Liquids), Earth (Solids), Frater Albertus in The Alchemists Handbook says of the elements:

"Atoms are matterized, segmentary, entities of cosmic consciousness manifesting in one of the three elements of physical phenomena, ie., solid, liquid, or gaseous. Atomic structures can be rearranged but the results will manifest in one of the three elements as mentioned, changes being brought about through heat (the fourth). All motion is due to force and all force emanates from heat(energy), having its origin in universal plasma, which is a coagulation of gaseous, liquid and solid substance.

Heat or fire, as confusingly (yet understandably) misnamed in former times is another element. However, visible fire is combustion, a rearrangement of atomic structures and has its origin in either solid, liquid or gaseous combustable atomic structures. But solids ... can be liquified and solids can become gases, and gases condense into liquids, science will reply.

True, but this is as far as it will go. An ultimate end must be reached within the realm of these elements. It can only be one of the three at one time because all three are in one, namely heat, energy, the universal plasma. Anything that manifests to our senses does so within the three elements through the fourth".

It is the art of manipulation of the elements that transforms the seed (in this, sense, the three essentials into the perfected fruit. just as a seed in the garden needs the right proportions of each of the four elements to germinate, and grow, so do the alchemical elixirs.

The above may be summed up by saying that:

"... the law of polarity will reveal itself within the three essentials that will be found within the four elements, wherein is found the quintessence which is not one of the four (elements), but one of the three (essences)" (Parachemica Vol.3 No. 1). The quintessence is mercury; the Prima Materia.)

5. The Seven Planetary Principles

This is a vast field that cannot be dealt with fully in this article. The seven planetary Principles or Rays are archetypes that permeate the cosmos on all planes and scales of existence simultaneously. The seven Principles constitute what may be considered to be the "organs" on the physical, psychological, spiritual, microsmic and macrocosmic levels. To quote from Paracelsus in Life and Doctrines of Paracelsus by Franz Hartmann, 1891/1963.

"Every organ in the human body is formed by the action of certain principles that exist in the universe, and the former attract the corresponding activity in the latter. Thus the heart is in sympathy with the elements of the sun... There are many stars in the great firmament of the universe and there are many germs (i.e. seeds) hidden in the little world of man, and the high influences the low and in the macrocosm and microcosm all things stand in intimate sympathetic relationship with each other for all are the children of one universal father.

If I have manna in my constitution I can attract manna from heaven.

Saturn is not only in the sky but also deep in the earth and in the ocean. What is Venus but the artemesia that grows in your garden? What is iron but Mars? That is to say Venus and artemesia are both products of the same essence, and Mars and iron are both manifestations of the same cause. What is the human body but a constellation of the same powers that formed the stars in the sky? He who knows what iron is knows the attributes of Mars. He who knows Mars knows the quality of iron".

He clearly states elsewhere that the stars do not cause disease but an "adverse" astrological influence will nurture the seed of a disease, both physically and psychologically, if it already exists. The above quotation illustrates the concept of each form in nature being primarily under the rulership of one of these archetypes which are for convenience named after the classical planets. This is of great importance in practical alchemy, as it determines which substance is to be transmutedr and for what purpose it is to be used.

By the familiar maxim "As above, so below" - So below, so above" a herb, metal, or animal product of a Principle when transmuted, will have a corresponding effect, change in polarity within its own principle. For example, transmuted dandelion has the power to change the polarity of a diseased liver to a healthy one, and also to change a polarity of cunning to wisdom. This is a transformation of low vibration Jupiter to high vibration Jupiter.

The following table is a glimpse of an endless list of correspondence of the seven planetary principles.

Planet Herbs Metal Day Anatomy 'Vice' 'Virtue'
Sun Camomile
Gold Sunday Heart Pride Humility
Moon Watercress
Silver Monday Brain Lust of the Flesh Stability of Christos
Mercury Valerian,
Mercury Wednesday Lungs Envy Benevolence
Venus Mugwort
Copper Friday Kidneys Lewdness Ennobling
Mars Nettle
Iron Tuesday Gall bladder Anger Meekness
Jupiter Dandelion
Tin Thursday Liver Cunning Wisdom
Saturn Comfrey
Lead Saturday Spleen Avarice Charity

(N.B. Vice and virtue from Jacob Boehme, Anatomy from Paracelsus, and herbs from Frater Albertus.)


All practical alchemy, whether performed psychospiritually in the 'inner laboratory', or the outer physical laboratory, consists of only three processes. (a) separation (b) purification (c) cohobation, or combination. These processes will be illustrated by a hypothetical transmutation of a herb - the lesser Circulation; the herb having been collected (that portion containing the active healing agents) on the day governed by its planetary ruler and then dried and ground. The herb is separated into its three essentials (one becomes Three) - (a) sulphur = oils, (b) mercury = alcohol, ethanol, (c) salt remaining dead body (caput mortem), and each of these three essences are separately purified by distillation or an open flame, as appropriate, and when pure, they are recombined, Three into One). The process of separation of alcohol i.e. life, from the herb indicates the death of the herb, the purification becomes the purgation, and cohobation is the rebirth; the culmination of the spiralic cycle. The herb is now a wax-like substance, which is solid at room temperature and liquid when warmed a small quantity of which is taken in water or wine on the appropriate day. Herbs of all seven Principles used in conjunction provide a balanced, gentle regeneration of mind and body.


In alchemical practice the study of the time cycles of the seven Principles and astrology have primary functions - (a) cycles of the seven Principles provide information concerning the optimum times to perform the various laboratory proceedures. (b) Astrology is an invaluable guide in getting to know oneself and when correctly understood can clarify deeply rooted karmic problems to be confronted and transmuted in this lifetime. These problems come to a head under the influence of transits and progressions, and the knowledge of celestial influences frees one of being what appears to be the victim of external circumstances. Astrological factors also influence the timing of laboratory procedure.

The Qabalah provides the student of alchemy with a very thorough set of relationships between the various archetypes being explored and used. It is these relationships that combine in the pattern of the Tree of Life: the forming of a map of the micro and macrocosm.

To summarize - astrology reveals who you are; the Qabalah indicates where you are going; and alchemical practise provides the means for getting there.

Grateful acknowledgements to the Paracelsus Research Society.

- Kevin Masman.



Who is Krishnamurti and how is he relevent to the teachings of the Paracelsus Research Society ?

J. Krishnamurti was born in South India and educated in England. Hailed by many from early youth and groomed as a future great spiritual teacher by the early leaders of the Theosophical Society, he rejected adulation and leadership in order to encourage spiritual freedom and the discovery of understanding by each one for himself.

He has devoted his life to speaking and counselling, traveling in the U.S.A., Europe, India and other parts of the world, addressing thousands of people, always pointing the way of each man to find himself.

He is well known through his many books throwing much light on the problems of humanity - our hopes, our fears, our illusions, our beliefs, our prejudices, our total conditioning. In this way he continually encourages selfobservation to "awaken" us in the same way as we find in the teaching of Ouspensky, Gurdjieff and the Paracelsus Research Society.

The following article is written by a student who has been a constant disciple of Krishnamurti for well over thirty years :

"I am giving you what I consider are the basic points of K's communications (not teachings). Teachings imply something to be remembered, something to be done, something to be believed in, something to accept or reject, something for the "formulative" mind to hang on to. Communications can induce real listening, induce the ability to see new significances, see new implication, receive new intimations ........... from a level beyond the formulative mind, beyond and outside the FIELD of thought. Let us agree to say that K. Communicates with us, and according to our ability to listen and experience as we listen, we find our centre of consciousness functioning - ie, either within the field of thought (memory) or beyond this field where understanding takes the place of mental pictures or suppositions.

"Now for the salient points contained in his communications. Here are some :

1. "Individuals, the world over, singly and collectively, are faced with problems which have no solution of a permanent nature. Each one is in conflict.

2. "There is no realization on the part of those who are seeking a solution that the "I","Ego" or "me" in each case is that responsible for the problem, in part or wholly.

3. "The failure on part of the enquirer or seeker to discover this, confines him to the limits of his own field of thought (memory) for any remedy or solution. This can only lead to some modification of conditioning for the individual or for the mass. Here, K. declares that until the mind is free from all conditioning there must BE PROBLEMS. So, to find out for oneself that which is true in any situation or circumstance, to find out what is Real, what is God, the mind must be free from all conditioning.

4. "K. points out most emphatically that until the mind is aware of its own process, until it sees itself functioning in a particular pattern and is able to be free from that conditioning, obviously all search is vain. Hence it is of the greatest importance to begin with ourselves. K. repeats that it is only the mind that is capable of observing patiently its own conditioning, and, being free from its conditioning, is able to start a revaluation or radical transformation and discover that which is infinitely beyond the mind - beyond desire - beyond vanity and pursuits.

5. "This pin-points the absolute necessity for self knowledge. K. declares that without self-knowledge, without knowing oneself as one is and not as one would like to be, without knowing the ways of inner thinking all one's motives, one's thoughts, one's innumerable responses, it is not possible to understand and go beyond this whole process of thinking.

6. "To quote K. from a recent talk: "And so it is important to understand oneself, is it not? Self knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Self-knowledge is not according to some psychologist's book or philosopher, but to know oneself as one is from moment to moment. To know oneself is to observe what one thinks, how one feels, not just superficially, but to be deeply aware of what is, without condemnation without judgment, without evaluation or comparison. Unless this takes place, not only at the superficial level, but right through the whole content of consciousness, there can be no delving into the profundity of the mind. Please if you are really here to understand what is being said it is THIS that we are concerned with and nothing else. The mind is conditioned right through, there is no part of the mind which is not conditioned and our problem is, can such a mind free itself ?"

7. "The quest of self-knowledge can only take place in the field of relationship with things, people and ideas in the spheres of sex, work and society. Each moment of time we are being constantly challenged, stimulated or depressed by some impact from the environment. It is in the reaction to the impact that we have the opportunity to reveal ourselves to ourselves, to see ourselves as we are and not as we would like to be.

8. "The first three realizations we may experience may well be:

(a) "That we never think - we only recall some part of memory to deal with the challenge striking our senses from the environment.
(b) "That we never make any conscious decision regarding action. Again, some part of memory decides for us what we do.
(c) "That therefore we are incapable of making conscious action since some fragment of memory decides for us just what or what not to do. That the thinker and his thoughts are one. This means that we are all automatic, mechanical, repetitive, or in a state of self-hypnosis - constantly obliged to meet the present with the past, and never able to see a fact of relationship as a fact. K's communication to the world is that this state can be brought to an end by the individual who will give the time, interest and energy to the search. BY his (K.'s) living presence he has shown that a new state of consciousness is possible, that a mind liberated from conditioning can be experienced; that all pain, sorrow and disease are the results of our intentions in relationship, and above all, that we alone can save ourselves.

"Throughout his communications K. has spoken of self-awareness leading to self-knowledge, and self-knolwedge as necessary to right-thinking. Note that K. defines right-thinking as "passive awareness of what is", and has nothing to do with our so-called thinking, which is but recollecting some fragment of that contained within memory, when challenged by our environment. For this passive awareness to function, a state of "unforced stillness" must be present in ' the mind i.e.., the mind must of its own volition be completely unoccupied. It seems that nothing but the realization that the mind is completely inadequate in dealing with any problem or search for Truth in any angle of relationship, will be sufficient for the attention to leave the field of thought (memory) and watch for significances and implications contained within the experience. K. points out that we do not have to act upon Truth. but rather Truth will act upon us.

"So throughout K.'s communications you cannot find methods, techniques, lessons, precepts, do's or don'ts because all these are appertaining to that factor in consciousness which must cease to function, if Truth God, Love, or Reality is to come into being. It is pointed out that self-knowledge leads to practical wisdom, which means that capacity to see Truth and the ability to carry it into action, free from the compulsion of memory.

"The purpose of existence is seen to be the finding out for oneself-independent of all authorities how the mind thinks, functions and operates; and then, go beyond it. It seems that Truth can only be found in the full cycle of challenge and response only know in relationship, from moment to moment. K. once said: "When the mind is choicelessly aware that it is conditioned in this awareness, there comes a state which is not conditioned".

"Now how do we, the 'average person', measure up against this NEW state which K. describes as 'creative'?

i. "We appear to be sound asleep, mechanical, and automatic in our responses and reaction.

ii. "We appear to act under the compulsion of our memory the end results of which are entirely unpredictable.
iii. "We cannot see Truth anyhow, anywhere, or at any time. We can only react mentally or emotionally according to our own conditioned memory or background.
iv. "We can find no permanent solution of our problems individually or collectively.
v. "We cannot find uninterrupted happiness. We only experience joy and sorrow alternating.
vi. "We live and have our being within the world of opposites, from which we are obliged to choose with no Truth to guide us.
vii. "We are in conflict individually and collectively and eventually set in motion all wars that take place. We are our own executioners.

Although there are no precepts, techniques or methods contained in K's communications, there are innumerable significances and implications contained in the concepts which can be seen when the mind is still. If the seeing leads to experimental living and a revolution or radical transformation in the way of life, then K. has been responsible for leading yet another to that first and last freedom: the freedom from the conditioned mind.




The Moon's motion is extremely complex due to the interplay of the Sun, Earth, and Moon,and their relative positions are never exactly repeated. Indeed, there are about 150 principal periodic motions along the ecliptic, and just as many perpendicular to itplus about 500 smaller perturbations!

However, the astrologer need only be interested in the few principal perturbations which are primarily caused by the Sun's gravitational attraction on the Earth-Moon system.


Perhaps first we should realize that the Moon does not revolve round the centre of the Earth. Both bodies revolve about a common centre of gravity. As the mass of the Earth is eightyone times the mass of the Moon, their centre of gravity is eighty times nearer the centre of the Earth than it is to the centre of the Moon. This point round which they both revolve is, in fact, about 1,000 miles below the Earth's surface - roughly 3,000 miles from the Earth's centre. It is this centre of gravity of the Earth-Moon system, and not the centre of the Earth, that describes an elliptical orbit round the Sun.

In Fig.1 this motion is described. The sphere of the Earth is shown in its relative position to the Earth-Moon common centre of gravity at each of the quarters of the lunation. It will be seen that this centre remains constantly at the same distance beneath the Earth's surface. At full Moon the Earth is on the sunward side of the centre of gravity; at New Moon on the opposite side. Therefore, distinct from its annual ecliptical orbit of the Sun, the Earth, due to sharing this common centre of gravity with the Moon, also travels round a little circle of 3,000 miles radius in the period of a lunation, being farther from the Sun by this amount at New Moon and nearer at Full Moon. The effect of this is to make the Sun appear 6.5" of arc in front of its mean place at the Moon's first Quarter, and 6.5" behind it at the Last Quarter.

Fig.1 Earth-Moon Common Centre of Gravity


Fig.2 illustrates the combined movement of the Earth Moon system. By its gravitational hold on the Moon the Earth appears to carry its satellite with it along the ecliptic. But, unlike the Earth, the Moon's orbit is not in the ecliptic, but inclines at an average angle of 5o8' with it. The two points in the Moon's orbit where it cuts the plane of the ecliptic are called the nodes. The ascending node called by the ancients the Dragon's Head, and generally by astrologers the north node, is where the Moon crosses the ecliptic from south to north. The descending node, or south node (Dragon's Tail), where the ecliptic is crossed from north to south, is known by its reverse symbol Astronomers refer to the line joining these two points as the Nodal Line, which is the line of intersection the plane of the Earth's path and that of the Moon's path.

Fig. 2. Combined Motion of Earth and Moon

Fig.3 describes the derivation of the moon's nodes and also explains the angle known as declination in the case of the Moon. The regression of the Moon's nodes is a retrograde motion along the ecliptic of about 19o in a year. This can be checked from Raphael's Ephemerides for any year. For example, on 1st January 1965 Moon's north node cut the ecliptic at Gemini 21o57'; on 31st December 1965 at Gemini 2o 41' = a retrograde distance of 19o16' of arc. The line of nodes (Nodal Line), with the plane of the Moon's orbit, performs a complete retrograde revolution in 6793.4 days (about 18.6 years).

The angle of inclination of the Moon's orbit to the Earth's equator (declination) is subject to periodic variations due to this regression of the nodes, and because the Moon's orbit is not in the same plane as the Earth's equator. If you look through several ephemerides for consecutive years you will notice that the maximum declination attained by the Moon varies from month to month, year to year, reaching a maximum of perhaps 28o35' and a minimum of about 18o19' in a period of 19 years. When the Moon's orbit coincides with the First Point of Aries the ascending node will be at Aries (fig.3), though at the vernal equinox the node's position may not be exactly Aries 0o. The Moon then attains its greatest inclination (declination) to the Earth's equator during the 19 years' cycle, about 28o35'. This figure is arrived at by adding the angle of the equator to the ecliptic (23o27'), to the average angle of the Moon's orbit to the ecliptic (5o8'). 23o27' + 5o8' = 28o35'.

You can check this yourself if you have an ephemeris for a year when the Moon's north node reaches Aries 0o. This last occurred in August 1950, and on 19th September maximum declination reached 28o44'. About 9.5 years later, when the ascending node intersects the autumnal equinox (Libra), the Moon's inclination to the Earth's equator reaches its lowest in the 19 years cycle. This last occurred in 1959, when the Moon's declination at maximum was as low as 18o10'.

Fig.3 Moon's Nodes and Inclination of Orbit.

It can be seen that the maximum angle of declination attained by the Moon during a lunation depends upon the position of the nodes in the Moon's orbit to the First Point of Aries.

- grateful acknowledgement to "The Astrologer's Astronomical Handbook" by Jeff Mayo.

Astronomy for Astrologers VI

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