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Cyril Fagan

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

Dane Rudhyar.

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

century B.

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