Notices of Recent & Forthcoming Work

This section contains information on recent and forthcoming books based on Ph.D. theses concerning astrology, related subjects, or subjects with implications for the understanding of astrology.


  • Bernadette Brady, ‘Theories of Fate among Present-Day Astrologers’, Ph.D., University of Wales Trinity Saint David, 2012. A book based on the thesis is in preparation.

The accepted view of the secondary ‘outsider’ literature on present-day astrology tends to argue that astrology’s appeal is based on its determinism and the individual’s surrender of personal responsibility to a larger external force. In contradiction to this is the primary, ‘insider’ literature which propounds the theory that astrology’s appeal is based on its advocacy of personal responsibility, even if within a broader deterministic framework. This thesis examines this dichotomy through an investigation into the beliefs held by astrologers regarding the order that astrology is assumed to impose on their lives. The thesis establishes different classical theories of fate, from the early Greek literature of Homer through to the fate discussed by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. These theories of fate consist of a collection of beliefs concerning the nature, source, and purpose of fate, and its role in human life. However, these theories of fate have, since the seventeenth century and the development of scientific rationalisation, been marginalised and the notion of fate itself has been replaced with the doctrine of universal determinism. This replacement of fate with determinism has resulted in a subsequent shift in philosophical debates, which having rejected fate are now focused on arguments concerning the influence of determinism on free will. The thesis also considers the modern arguments of René Descartes, Baruch de Spinoza, David Hume and Arthur Schopenhauer in their views on determinism, and then uses these views combined with the classical concepts of fate to investigate the nature of the ‘determinism’ adopted by astrologers. The field work reveals that, almost unanimously, astrologers have rejected determinism, and indicates that part of the appeal of astrology is that it provides a vehicle for the individual to adopt a life-style choice that embraces different versions of classical theories of fate and which encourages reflective knowledge of the self and personal responsibility.


  • A History of Western Astrology, Vol 1. The Ancient World (London: Continuum, 2009), first published as The Dawn of Astrology: A Cultural History of Western Astrology (London: Continuum, 2008); Vol. 2, The Medieval and Modern Worlds (London: Continuum, 2009).
  • Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions (New York: New York University Press, 2012).
  • Astrology and Popular Religion in the Modern West: Prophecy, Cosmology and the New Age Movement (Abingdon: Ashgate, 2012). Based on Nicholas Campion, ‘Prophecy, Cosmology and the New Age Movement: The Extent and Nature of Contemporary Belief in Astrology’, Ph.D. thesis, University of the West of England (2004). An abstract of the Ph.D. thesis follows.
Most research indicates that almost 100% of British adults know their birth-sign. Astrology is an accepted part of popular culture and is an essential feature of tabloid newspapers and women's magazines, yet is regarded as a rival or, at worst, a threat, by the mainstream churches. Sceptical secular humanists likewise view it as a potential danger to social order. Sociologists of religion routinely classify it as a cult, religion, new religious movement or New Age belief. Yet, once such assumptions have been aired, the subject is rarely investigated further. If, though, astrology is characterised as New Age, an investigation of its nature may shed light on wider questions, such as whether many Christians are right to see New Age as a competitor in the religious market place. The academic literature on the New Age also generally assumes that New Age is a modern form of millenarianism, without investigating the connection further. If New Age is millenarian and astrology, in turn, is New Age, then astrology's current popularity may be a millenarian phenomenon.

This study sets out to establish the extent and nature of contemporary belief in astrology within the broader context of hostility from Christians and sceptics, but apparent support from New Agers and readers of horoscope columns. It investigates astrology's relationship with millenarianism and New Age culture, and explores the penetration of New Age ideas into twentieth-century astrology. It examines attempts to quantify belief in astrology, discussing the wider question of whether the quantification of belief is even possible. It then uses in-depth interviews and questionnaires to consider the nature of belief in astrology amongst both the general public and astrologers. The thesis concludes that there is no single reliable measure of belief in astrology and no necessary clash between astrology and Christianity. The question of whether astrology's survival in the modern world is an anachronism is considered and it is concluded that it is not. Astrology is part of the matrix of ideas which constitutes popular belief in modern Britain.

  • Forthcoming book: Astrology and Popular Religion in the Modern West: Prophecy, Cosmology and the New Age Movement (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012)
to top


  • Ph.D. thesis: ‘Field of Omens: A Study in Inductive Divination’
  • University of Kent, 2009
  • Abstract:

Despite its ubiquitous character and its significance, divination has received scant attention, especially in its 'inductive' form where inferences are drawn from omens, contingencies, and randomly-arranged objects. In contrast to a universal religious sentiment, divination's epistemological claim to truth founded in such inconsequential methods is almost impossible for modern educated opinion to countenance. This dilemma is addressed through Kant, in whose philosophy the divide between the archaic possibility and the modern impossibility of divination is revealed.

This thesis interprets anthropological insights into the participatory consciousness of 'primitive mentality', posited by Lévy-Bruhl. This suggests a divinatory analytic – definitions of typical experiences within divination, facilitating a description of its various acts and interpretations. Some elements are unfamiliar, especially the chicane, defined as an intentional sleight inducing changes in physical, social and spiritual well-being. This characterises shamans and witch-doctors worldwide, and is suggested to be determinative for divination. Extending the analysis to classical Greece we identify the double-consciousness of divinatory intelligence in the hermeneutic poles of theoros, pilgrim and enquirer, and hermeios, priest and diviner.

Reports across cultures, together with theories of participants and critics, develop the model, while Socratic divination reveals a teleological dimension placing prophecy and divination in a common spectrum. The theological challenge from Judeo-Christianity precipitates a crisis of ultimacy, the final outcome of which is far from decided; yet in parallel, medieval scholasticism offers hermeneutic analyses that illuminate essential features within ordinary divinatory experience. The resulting analytic is applied to judicial astrology, the leading divinatory form in Western culture. Astrology’s sophisticated divinatory allegoric is indicated, together with issues raised by its Stoic legacy as a science of fate.

The study concludes with the post-Kantian dilemma of psychological and parapsychological interpretations, and poses – but does not answer – the question of whether these may carry divination into post-modernity.

Substantial portions of the text separately published (with amendments to the original):

  • Cornelius, Geoffrey, 'From Primitive Mentality to Haecceity: the Unique Case in Astrology and Divination', in Seeing with Different Eyes: Essays in Astrology and Divination' , edited by Patrick Curry and Angela Voss (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), pp.227-254.
  • Cornelius, Geoffrey, 'Chicane: Double-Thinking and Divination among the Witch-Doctors', in Divination: Perspectives for a New Millennium, edited by Patrick Curry (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010), pp.119-142.
  • Forthcoming book: probably under the same title as the thesis.
to top


  • Ph.D. thesis: ‘The Decline of Astrology in Early Modern England, 1642-1800’ (only in printed form)
  • University College London, 1986
  • Book based on it: Prophecy and Power: Astrology in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989)
to top


  • Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olympiodorus, translator and annotator (Reston VA: Arhat, 2001).
  • Temperament: Astrology’s Forgotten Key (Bournemouth: Wessex Astrologer, 2005).
  • The Winding Courses of the Stars: Essays in Ancient Astrology, a special issue of Culture and Cosmos, edited with Charles Burnett, Vol. 11.1 and 2 (2007).
  • Kepler’s Astrology, a special issue of Culture and Cosmos, Vol. 14.1 and 2 (2010).
  • From Masha’allah to Kepler: The Theory and Practice of Astrology in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, with Charles Burnett (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, forthcoming).
  • The Daimon in Hellenistic Astrology: Origins and Influence (Leiden/ Boston: Brill, forthcoming).

The last is based on Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum, 'The Daimon in Hellenistic Astrology: Origins and Influence', Ph.D. thesis, The Warburg Institute (University of London), 2009. An abstract follows.

This thesis is the first exploration of the concept of the daimon within Hellenistic astrological theory and practice. It investigates how the daimon, as a cultural, philosophical and religious phenomenon, shaped the theory and practice of Hellenistic astrology; and, in turn, how Hellenistic astrology further developed, as well as mirrored and reinforced, concepts of the daimon in the Greco-Roman era and Late Antiquity.

The concept of the daimon is complex and of multivalent significance: there are good daimons, bad daimons and even a personal guiding daimon popularised by Plato. This multivalency is also expressed in within astrologys theory and practice. Places in the astrological chart signify what is provided by good and bad daimons. The daimons connection with fate is expressed in astrology through predictions of life expectancy, prosperity, happiness (in Greek, eudaimonia, having a good daimon) and character. The daimon, mostly via Plato, but with other influences as well, has an important link to lots and allotment; we find this link mirrored in astrological practice through the technique of lots, especially the Lots of Fortune and Daimon. The Neo-Platonist polymath Porphyry tries to find a personal daimon represented in the chart.

The outline of the thesis is as follows. Chapter 1 studies Plutarch’s daimons compared with the personal daimon of a second-century CE astrologer, Vettius Valens. Chapters 2 and 3 investigate the good and bad daimon places within the chart, while exploring good and bad daimons in various Mediterranean cultures. Chapter 4 is a study of Porphyrys search for a personal daimon in the astrological birthchart. Chapters 5, 6 and 7 explore lots both from the view of Greek culture (especially Platos conception) and their place within astrological practice. The last two chapters are detailed studies of four astrological lots: Fortune, Daemon, Eros and Necessity, their astrological links and their cultural connections.

  • Forthcoming book: probably under the same title as the thesis.
to top


  • Magi and Maggidim: The Kabbalah in British Occultism 1860-1940 (University of Wales, Trinity St David: Sophia Centre Press, 2012). [NB: please use exactly this non/italicisation.] Based on Liz Greene, 'The Kabbalah in the British Occult Revival, 1860-1940', Ph.D. thesis, University of Bristol (2010). An abstract of the Ph.D. thesis follows.

This dissertation focuses on the acquisition and application of the Jewish Kabbalah in the British occult revival of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Because the occult revival has exercised a major influence on contemporary spiritualities, it has begun to attract increasing scholarly interest in recent years. The books, articles, letters, and diaries produced by major figures in the occult revival reveal the centrality of the Kabbalah in occultist thought and practice. However, although most of these occultists believed the Kabbalah to be the basis of the entire Western ‘mystery tradition’, the ways in which they sourced and utilised Jewish mystical and magical lore are largely ignored in current research. A growing corpus of scholarly work is now dedicated to both medieval and early modern Jewish Kabbalah but excludes the Kabbalah of the occult revival. Current scholarship in Western esoteric currents assumes that the Kabbalah of the occult revival is an invention or a modern secularised version of a core tradition, rather than evidence of the genuine continuity in non-Jewish circles of much older Jewish traditions. An examination of the social contexts of the occult revival in both France and Britain raises the important question of why the Jewish Kabbalah was so compellingly attractive to non-Jewish occult practitioners at a time when religious, political and racial anti-semitism constituted a normative response to Jews. The ways in which the Kabbalah was viewed within Jewish communities during this time, and the involvement of many Jewish scholars with occultist groups, suggest that the occult revival in fact helped to fuel the emergence of modern Jewish Kabbalistic scholarship. The Kabbalah of the British occult revival deserves to be explored more fully, not only because it continues to shape many contemporary spiritualities, but also because it is an important aspect of British religious history that has been obscured by the imposition of modern concepts on older religious currents, sensitivities and prejudices surrounding issues of religious identity, and social and political tensions with a two-thousand-year history behind them.

  • Forthcoming book: Something Old, Something New: The Reception of the Kabbalah in British Occultism, 1860-1940
to top


  • Ph.D. thesis: ‘Magic, Astrology and Music : The astrological music therapy of Marsilio Ficino and his role as a Renaissance Magus’ (SEE thesis section)
  • City University, London, 1992
  • Book based on it: Marsilio Ficino, Western Esoteric Masters Series (North Atlantic Books: Berkeley, California 2006), an edited collection of Ficino's writings on astrology, with a substantial introduction.
website by digitalplot