Predictions for each year of life go back to the earliest times of Hellenistic astrology. Elaborated by Persian and Arabic astrologers who emphasized the revolution of the nativity, known today as the solar return chart, annual predictive techniques then spread eastward into India and westward into Latin Europe during the Middle Ages. For the first time, this book draws together material on annual predictions from ancient and medieval authors writing in Greek, Arabic and Sanskrit, demonstrating their methods with a wealth of
present-day example charts.
While covering historical background and principles of interpretation, Annual Predictive Techniques is above all a manual of practical astrology, a guide to concrete prediction intended for intermediate students. Separate chapters are devoted to illustrating the use of primary directions and profections together with anniversary transits. The reader is then shown how to integrate these techniques step by step with the solar return chart. The final chapter discusses ways of subdividing a year and identifying times of major
Reviewed in The Mountain Astrologer June/July 2021
Martin Gansten, a researcher and translator of Greek, Arabic, and Sanskrit sources, has also been a practitioner of traditional astrology for more than 30 years. His earlier book, Primary Directions (2009), brought the ancient timing technique into the understanding and purview of the modern astrologer.
In Annual Predictive Techniques, the author takes the inquisitive reader into a more intricate guide to concrete prediction. Gansten describes a “predictive hierarchy,” by integrating primary directions, profections, solar returns, and transits. His (and others’) academic scholarship informs the book and establishes an invaluable context for how the traditional techniques fit together and have interfaced with one another over time, and the book is written for the practicing astrologer.
Part I: “Background” is exceptionally useful in orienting the reader by providing some historical context, basic concepts (including the use of the sidereal zodiac), the rationale for his terminology, and an explanation of what he calls Ptolemy’s Predictive Package, which he interprets and adapts.
Part II: “Practice” is a far longer section where Gansten teaches his method, step by step. He integrates the chronocrators (that is, ruler of a given period of time) from primary directions, with the profections (from the Ascendant, which reinforces or modifies the directions), and the revolution (solar return). The last chapter, Critical Times and Periods Within a Year, adds transits into the picture. (In one small detail from this chapter, he places Directions changing terms at the top of a list of five methods for assessing critical times.)
Although Gansten describes a cohesive method, there are a plethora of tips offered throughout the text that the reader can try out, regardless of how far one has assimilated the entire approach. Some of these ideas include “the importance of transiting planets casting aspects into terms activated by direction …” and agreeing with “Ptolemy and most medieval authors in giving more weight to the ruler of the profection sign (that is, the ruler of the year) than to planets located in it.”
As a testament to Gansten’s clarity as a teacher: I understand only some applications of traditional astrology. Although I read Annual Predictive Techniques rather quickly for review, I followed his thinking and examples and will certainly return for further investigation. (Also notable is that he uses the same chart examples in subsequent chapters to demonstrate how major events in the individual’s life manifest over time; this is more revealing than the more common method of showing solar returns for distinct years not connected to any others.)
The book, published by Wessex, is beautifully produced with precise chart graphics (essential when including decans and terms); endnotes for each chapter; appendices (including software settings for traditional directions); a glossary; bibliography; and an index. All of these allow even a newcomer to appreciate and engage with the material.
Reviewed by Shane McDermott in the Astrological Journal, May 2021
Martin Gansten’s latest book is very much in the same style as his earlier work, Primary Directions: Astrology’s Old Master Technique, and indeed is a development from this. To primary directions is added three more predictive techniques from the time of Ptolemy: profections, annual revolutions (now called solar returns) and transits. Part I sets the scene with a tour through the history of astrology from the Hellenistic period through Persia and Arabia to its transmission into India (and back). There then follows an introduction to each of the techniques. Numerous fascinating facts pepper the text, such as: why ‘Vedic’ astrology is a misnomer; why ‘profections’ should really be called ‘perfections’. We learn that secondary progressions only assumed their pre-eminence in modern astrology because Alan Leo couldn’t master primary directions. I was surprised to learn that the term ‘rulership’ played such a crucial role in classical astrology. Part II delves into each of the four techniques in detail, with numerous practical illustrations from real nativities (13 subjects, 68 charts). The starting point is primary directions which provide the broad-brush influences over a native’s life. The angles and planets are directed to new positions by the diurnal rotation of Earth, with each degree of right ascension representing one year of life. The following chapter adds refinement for each year of life with the simple technique known as profections – the Ascendant is advanced through the zodiac at the rate of one sign per year, with the ruler of the year being the sign ruler. Further refinement is added by planets transiting at the time of the annual revolution, which is treated more fully in the next chapter, where all the techniques are pulled together. A final chapter provides the fine detail on critical periods within each year: this is where transits come into their own. The importance of planetary stations is highlighted. Monthly and daily profections and revolutions are critically discussed and a miniature dasha system for each year is introduced. In this book we are presented with a hierarchy of periods and subperiods, like layers of an onion, where lower levels reinforce, modify or vitiate higher levels.The planets as chronocrators or time lords take turns in becoming active, like actors moving into and out of the spotlight or runners passing the baton in a relay race. Perhaps this explains why transits sometimes work and sometimes don’t? The more agreement in nature between the different rulers, the more likely an event is likely to occur in the native’s life. I couldn’t help wondering whether (considering the different systems with all their variations) it might not be possible to find signification for any possible occurrence retrospectively. Readers must test for themselves the power of this suite of predictive techniques. The author is both historian and astrologer and combines simplicity of explanation with deep knowledge of the source material – a combination of clarity and erudition rarely encountered. It is obvious that he has practised the techniques extensively and is generous in sharing his findings over what works best: for example, his preference for a sidereal zodiac, correcting for lunar parallax, and the best software settings to use. I felt I was being guided by a tutor rather than being simply given the material. If you enjoy reading about astrological techniques, and the history of astrology, you will love this book. A copy should grace every astrologer’s bookshelf. Deliberately omitted is a treatment ofFirdaria, the medieval time lord system developed from Hellenistic astrology by the Persians…perhaps a suitable topic to complete the trilogy?