The main point at issue in contemporary astrology devolves onto the zodiac itself:
whether trait characteristics derive from the tropical signs, invented by the Greeks or the sidereal signs discovered by the Babylonians. The entire controversy is the consequence of the work of Cyril Fagan (1896-1970), astrologer extraordinary, and beyond question the best Irish astrologer of his day, perhaps any day.
He is not well known in Ireland because the bulk of his most important work was
published in American magazines, as there was strong opposition to his work in similar English publications. So, as with the Great Famine, America was again the beneficiary of Irish talent. While he encountered some stateside opposition (Dell Horoscope still will not print any sidereal article), in general, the American love affair with the Irish caused his work to be examined by most, and embraced by some, while the entire subject was reinvigorated. In fairness, it should be said that he and Charles E. O. Carter (1887-1968), the best English astrologer of his day, were close friends, and several other prominent English astrologers held Fagan in high regard.
Fagan was born in Dublin May 22, 1896 at noon, Dunsink Time. The local mean time of
the Dunsink Observatory was the time standard then in the area. It is 25 minutes, 21 seconds slow of Greenwich, so that noon Dunsink Time is equivalent to 12:25:21 GMT. In a letter to Arthur Blackwell, the brightest light of the second generation of modern siderealists, dated February 20, 1963, Fagan wrote, "My mother repeatedly informed me that I was born at 12:00 o'clock noon.
She said she remembered the occasion well, as my father, in his tall silk hat and frock coat came
into the room at that moment." Fagan's father was a medical doctor, a field into which Cyril
could not go due to near deafness from scarlet fever which he contracted as a child.
He was educated at Belvedere and Castlenock Colleges, and took up astrology in 1916
near the close of his formal education. Actually, his education was a lifelong pursuit. With the
Moon in sidereal Virgo, he was an inveterate reader, and he spent virtually the whole of his life
immersed in study, either in libraries and archives or at home at his desk. Yet in stark contrast to
his studious nature and insatiable intellectual curiosity, Fagan was a flamboyant personality in
speech and dress. That is not to say that he was a loose cannon or favored garish combinations,
rather, he had a brilliant and unpredictable sense of humor which everyone heard because he
almost shouted in order to hear himself (until good hearing aids were developed), was as
fashionably well dressed as he could afford, and enjoyed the night life. He married an Irish
beauty seventeen years his junior with whom he produced two children. His wife, Pauline, was a
woman from the old school, fiercely devoted to her husband. They were together until his death.
She recently passed on herself at San Francisco, California.
Fagan's penetrating curiosity also translated into wanderlust. He lived in Wales, London,
Morocco, Spain and several places in the United States, travelling extensively from these base
camps du jour, when he could.
While, invariably charming, he was also frightening to some because of "the gift," which
manifested as the sort of specificity in his astrological interpretations that seemed to go well
beyond what the planets could convey. I have been told that some people experienced this
quality about him in non-astrological contexts as well. Most people, however, experienced him
as a complete delight. The only person with whom he repeatedly crossed swords in print was
Fagan was the president and founder of the Irish Astrological Society, to which W.B.
Yeats belonged. They were friends. Fagan was a Fellow of the American Federation of
Astrologers, a Fellow of the Federation of British Astrologers and a Komandoro of the Universal
Order of Antares (Trieste).
Fagan began to publish articles extensively in the 1930's. As the best modern astrologers
have come to understand, he realized that to speak with authority on the history of astrology, one
must become competent in history, languages, geography, mathematics and astronomy,
especially the latter because in the ancient world astrology and astronomy were bound up
When the Cuneiform script was deciphered in the nineteenth century, Babylonian
astronomical/astrological materials became available to scholars who laboriously translated and
published them beginning in the 1880's. Early on it was recognized by three German Jesuit
scholars, Joseph Epping (1835-1894), Franz Xaver Kugler (1862-1929) and Johann Nepomuk
Strassmaier (1846-1920), that the longitudes in Babylonian ephemerides were reckoned from
stars, not the equinoxes or solstices. The bulk of the Babylonian astronomical/astrological
translations and commentary appeared in the irregular but massive journal begun by Kugler,
"Sternkunde Und Sterndienst In Babel" (Starlore and Starwork in Babylon) from 1907 until
completed in 1935 by Joseph Schaumberger S.J. Almost surely Fagan read at least some of this
work, but it is not known exactly when he began to investigate this sort of material, although his
study of it must have been well underway by the 1940's, because by 1944 he was confident that
the entire Babylonian tradition was sidereal, not simply the Hellenistic period material. He has
subsequently been borne out, although there is not enough evidence extant to tell just when the
transition to a twelve-fold equal division occurred. It is established that during the second
millenium B.C. the Babylonians used seventeen unequal sidereal constellations: the twelve we
use now but with Pisces split into two as the eastern and western fishes, as well as Orion, Auriga,
Perseus and the Pleides. The earliest horoscope for an individual dates only to 410 B.C. It is
twelve-fold, sidereal and Babylonian. There are no tropical horoscopes extant until the first