Much has been published about financial markets and astrology over the last 100 years so this article has to be selective. It draws attention to some of the highlights of that work but is in no way an exhaustive review. I have tried to pick-out some of the themes, and the results that were important both for our understanding of financial astrology and for our practise of astrology generally. Some well-known names are missing, either because they have only published their results in subscription newsletters, or because they generally only publish predictions and not the methods by which they arrived at those predictions. I have tried to provide references so that readers can look for themselves at the methods used by the people discussed in this article, and so understand their methods in more detail than can be discussed here.
One of the first studies to link market prices with astrological aspect was by L Krohn published in Modern Astrology in 1912. He was trying to look at the effect of astrology on the economy, but used the prices of metals used in industry as a proxy for the strength of the economy (economic growth means more demand for industrial metals such as Copper, Zinc and Iron, and so higher prices). Looking at the period 1850 to 1906, he gives a graph of prices with major aspects marked. He considered Jupiter-Saturn and Jupiter-Uranus aspects, and finds some interesting correspondences, however he does not analyse these rigorously, probably because of the relatively short length of the data series available to him. He then looked at Mars aspects to Saturn and Uranus and finds a repeatable pattern of highs at the trine, and lows at the squares and opposition. Markets have changed since he was writing and his results no longer hold, although Mars-Uranus, particularly heliocentrically, does currently show a pattern similar in some respects to that found by Krohn. His work was important as a first attempt to document financial astrology results; not just arguing from astrological theory that, say, trines will mark highs and squares lows, but actually testing the theory against the market.
Evangeline Adams was active in the early part of the 20th century. She did much to popularise astrology in the US, and is famous for giving financial astrology advice to the banker and financier J P Morgan, among others. Although she did not publish an explanation of her methods, we do have a number of her client readings and a detailed prediction for Sugar for 1st June 1898. Karen Christino has analysed this material and published the results in What Evangeline Adams Knew in 2004, a useful exploration of Adams’s methods. The prediction for Sugar is based on transits to a natal chart (17 August 1887 at 12:55 EST in New York), although it is not clear what event the chart is for. Adams paid particular attention to the movements of the Moon during the trading day. Although we do not have other financial predictions from Adams, it seems likely that the New York Stock Exchange chart and the US national charts were used in her financial work. It is unfortunate that the detailed methods of working of such a renowned financial astrologer are probably lost forever, but much can be learnt from Christino’s book.
Sepharial (Walter Gorn Old) published his first book of financial astrology, The Law of Values in 1912 (a facsimile paperback edition was published by Cosimo Classics in 2007). Like many of the early workers in this area, he treated it as mundane astrology, looking at indicators for the general economy in various countries (using the traditional sign assignment of countries) and like Krohn assumes that what is good for the economy will increase share prices at the same time. Economies and financial markets have changed greatly over the last 100 years and share markets no longer react at the same time as the economy. In addition, individual countries cannot be viewed in isolation, as once they could, so the timing factors that Sepharial proposed no longer hold true. He uses standard astrological symbolism and meanings, but provides no rigorous analysis of the results. It is disappointing that such a well-known astrologer provides far less testing against actual market moves than does the much less well-known Krohn.
In The Arcana or Stock and Share Key (a collection of writings privately circulated by subscription but recently published in various editions), Sepharial looks at individual companies using Noon incorporation charts, and at the stock market using a Noon chart for the specific stock exchange (New York 17 May 1792 Noon LMT). The main technique he used was Solar-Arc Directions: again, just a set of indicators with a few examples, no proper validation of the indicators. The indications may be very reliable, or maybe not; we cannot tell from the information he gives. Perhaps they should be re-evaluated in current markets ...
James Mars Langham published Planetary Effects on Stock Market Prices in 1932, and in 1938 Cyclical Market Forecasting Stocks and Grain. Langham relied primarily on transiting aspects and, for forecasting individual shares, on the incorporation charts of companies. In 1935 L J Jensen published Astro Cycles and Speculative Markets. He included both technical analysis (price charts similar to the ideas of Gann) and astrological timing. For those interested in Gann’s ideas, Jensen’s explanation of price charts and trend-lines is much clearer than Gann’s! Jensen’s astrological indications, like Langham’s are mainly transits to incorporation and stock exchange charts.
Both Langham and Jensen took an approach that used standard aspect qualities (trines favourable, squares negative, etc.) and standard planet qualities such as Jupiter increasing prices, Saturn depressing prices. One of the problems with much of this early work is that it gives astrological indicators but provides little verification. We are told what the transits mean, and perhaps given one or two examples, but there is no systematic attempt to show how reliable an indicator is (as with Sepharial above). Another point to beware in all the early work is that the nature of markets changes over time. Many of the companies quoted on the stock exchange in the 1930 were industrial ones, manufacturers, heavy engineering companies, builders of cars or tractors, etc.. Now, in the 21st century, many will be high technology and communications companies. The former might have been symbolised by Mars and Saturn, the latter by Mercury and Uranus. This means that the way stock markets in general react to transits may be very different now from 75 years ago. Some of this early work could usefully be repeated in the context of modern share markets.
Louise McWhirter writing in the late 1930s produced some very interesting work. She looked first at economic activity correlating with the lunar node cycle: the economy was strongest when the Moon’s North Node was in Leo and weakest when it was in Aquarius. This still has some validity, although its correlation with the stock market is quite weak there is a noticeable effect on the economy, particularly that of the USA. She analysed a number of modifying factors, such as Jupiter and Saturn aspects to the Node, and aspects from them both to Uranus. McWhirter provides a detailed analysis of economic activity in the USA for the period from 1850 to 1938. Although her analysis is solely for the USA, it does provide a thorough analysis for that economy, and so suggests areas for further research.
Her work on the stock market (but just the New York market) is based on transits to a market inception chart. Each month, the New Moon chart is calculated and the transiting planets aspects to each other, and where they fall in the natal chart (particularly in relation to the angles and houses of the natal chart) are considered. McWhirter uses a rectified chart for the New York Stock Exchange, which has the Midheaven at 24PI28 and the Ascendant at 14CA17. These angles are different from those others have proposed; however, it is generally agreed that the chart should be set for 17 May 1792 at 40N45, 73W57. A morning chart is usually favoured and rectified charts with Ascendants of 26CA13 and 11LE39 have both been proposed by other writers.
Finally, McWhirter looked at forecasting the share price of individual companies by transits to their incorporation chart. More recently, Bill Meridian has found that transits to the first trade chart are more effective; work I will discuss below.
W D Gann is an enigma. He was actively investing in various markets and wrote about his techniques from the early 1920s to the early 1950s. For one of the most famous market investors, particularly in commodities, who wrote a number of books and gave courses on his technique, we know surprisingly little about how he used astrology in his work. His emphasis was on technical analysis tools: price charts and patterns within them. In his writing, he used fixed periods; for example 30 days, 45 days, a year, fractions of a year, fixed numbers of years. Many of these periods correspond to astrological cycles and factions of cycles, but the details of Gann’s astrology have not been satisfactorily clarified by researchers. One of his techniques we are reasonably sure about is that if a Uranus-Neptune aspect occurred in the March/April period, it was predicted to affect the rainfall and thus flooding in the Mississippi Delta cotton growing area, and so the cotton crop and its price later in the year. We also know that cardinal ingresses and the halfway points (15 of the fixed signs) were also important, particularly for the Sun, but possibly also for other planets. There is a lot of material on Gann and his use of astrology available on the internet. To summarise it would be an article in itself and interested readers should search the Web, but beware, there is also much speculation. As with all financial astrology: test it before investing with it.
Moving to the post 1945 period, Donald Bradley was active in astrological research from the mid-1940s onwards. He is best remembered for his championing of the Sidereal Zodiac and his 1948 short book Stock Market Prediction: The Planetary Barometer and How to Use It. In this book, he developed what is called the Bradley Sideriograph to predict the US Stock Market. It used a weighted sum of all the transiting aspects excluding the Moon (it does not matter if you use the Tropical or Sidereal zodiacs). As it is difficult to find a complete explanation (his book is hard to obtain), I give the following brief summary.
For every planet, take the angular separation between that planet and every other planet, and note if it is within a 15-degree orb of a Conjunction, Sextile, Square, Trine, or Opposition. If so, it is given a weighted value depending on the aspect and the orb. Squares and oppositions are negative, sextiles and trines are positive. The weight for a conjunction varies depending on the planets involved. When there is an aspect within orb, take the distance between the two planets (in degrees), subtract it from 15 and then divide the result by 15; finally multiply the result by 10. So, an aspect that is exact gets a value of 10 and when the orb is 15 degrees a value of zero. The 36 combinations are separated into intermediate and long-term cycles, with the 10 combinations of Jupiter through Pluto considered the long-term cycles and the other 26 the medium-term cycles.
Finally take the declinations of Venus and Mars, assign a positive value for northern declinations, negative for southern declinations. Add the values for both Venus and Mars and divide by two. Add together all the values from the 10 long-term cycles, (divided by two), and multiply this number by 4. Then add all the values from the 26 intermediate term cycles and the Venus and Mars declination and this final number is the Bradley Sideriograph on a day.
Many people have investigated Bradley’s model and tried to improve it; some have included 30 degree and 150 degree aspects, others have included Chiron and Ceres, and others added 45 degree and 135 degree aspects. There is much debate about which conjunctions are positive and which negative. There is no consensus on how accurate the model is. It seems likely that just adding-up the individual indicators is too simplistic: they interact (see the work of Williams below), and other triple planet configurations, such as midpoints aspected by another planet, or Sun/Mars triggering of outer aspects are important. However, Bradley’s model is important as probably the first attempt to create a comprehensive astrological model of a financial market.
One of the most famous financial astrologers of the latter part of the 20th century was Lt Cmdr. David Williams. His book Financial Astrology (reprinted in 1982 by the AFA) looked at both astro-economics and the astrology of the stock market. One of his major contributions was to look at multiple aspects; he seems to have been the first to look in detail at multiple planet patterns in a systematic way. Everyone is familiar with Grand Trines, T-Squares, or Grand-Cross patterns, but Williams considered mixed patterns: for example Saturn opposition Uranus is usually negative for the market, but if Jupiter trines Saturn at the same time, the negative effect is nullified. He discusses not just the successful predictions of his astrological indicators, but also the failures, and suggests reasons for the failures.
Many non-astrologer researchers into the dynamics of financial markets, particularly from the mid-1950s onwards, looked at fixed period cycles; Williams also looked at these but related them to astrological cycles. The 9.2 year cycle, reported by a number of cycles researchers, he related to half the Nodal cycle (18.6 years) with stock market lows following the Node at 0 Libra and 0 Aries, and highs following the Node at 0 Cancer and 0 Capricorn.
He reported results for the sequence of Mars-Jupiter conjunctions and oppositions, and for the superior and inferior conjunctions of the Sun and Mercury. He also analysed where in the zodiac these aspects occurred, and was one of the first to suggest that zodiac placement of an aspect should be considered. The Mars-Jupiter cycle is one of the more reliable ones: the equity market makes a low at the conjunction and the opposition and a high about 70 degrees after the low, so with Mars about 70 degrees ahead of Jupiter and with Mars 250 degrees ahead.
Williams’s book, Financial Astrology, is well worth study by anyone interested in the astrology of markets.
Thomas Rieder published Astrological Warnings and the Stock Market in 1972. Like a number of modern financial astrologers, such as Williams (above), Rieder made important contributions to our understanding of multi-planet patterns in financial markets. For example, retrograde stations of Mars tend to produce market falls; however, if there is an outer planet in square or opposition to it, and no outer planet trine or sextile to it, the fall is much larger. The timing indicator was the station, not the square or opposition aspect. The station was acting as a trigger for the aspect.
In his research into the US stock market, Rieder also looked at the double or ‘sub-harmonic’ cycle of Mars. This is the four and a half year cycle of Mars twice round the zodiac. Every alternate retrograde station was found to be particularly powerful. I will return to double cycles later.
Clifford C Matlock is not well known in astrological circles but introduced some interesting and important ideas in his 1977 book Man and Cosmos. He considered US equities in relation to a number of cycles and aspects, like others before him, but did this within a very modern view of cycles (which he develops in the first half of the book). Perhaps for the first time, cycles were seen not as a symmetric series of aspects but as having a structure of their own. In addition he emphasised the multi-cycle nature of the markets saying that: “... there are many cycles of different length simultaneously in operation, interacting and combining to produce an irregular aggregate.”
As an example of this, he considered four different lunar cycles: the Sun-Moon cycle, the Moon through the zodiac, the Moon-Node cycle and the cycle of the Moon to its apogee (the point where it is furthest from the earth). Although all four cycles have quite small amplitude individually, they have different lengths, and so will move in and out of phase over time: sometimes they will reinforce each other and sometimes they will cancel out. So there will be times when there seems to be very little effect from any particular Moon cycle but other times when Moon cycles are strong. Interestingly, the Sun-Moon and Moon-Node cycles have similar structures. They tend to have turning-points at about the same position in each cycle, and show the asymmetric nature of many astrological cycles: the market tends to rise slowly for about two-thirds of each cycle and then falls quite quickly for about a third of each cycle.
One observation of Matlock’s should definitely be investigated further. He found that the Sun-Moon cycle differs in its details depending on where in the zodiac the Sun is placed. This finding has been neglected by many researchers and could prove a very fruitful area of investigation.
Finally, Matlock considered conjunctions and oppositions of the Sun with Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and of Mars with Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune. The strongest effect was during the 30 days prior to the aspect. All cases showed an above average market rise in that 30 days.
Bill Meridian has made a number of interesting contributions to financial astrology. In a study that first appeared in 1985 in the Journal of the Astrological Association, he looked at the Mars-Vesta cycle. This was one of the earliest studies to look at asteroids. The period of the cycle is about 3.9 years, which is very similar to the often-quoted 4-year cycle. His analysis was done using the Dow Jones index. The market tends to peak when Mars is 90 degrees ahead of Vesta, and makes a low when Mars is 240 degrees ahead of Vesta; although Meridian notes in an update to the original article on his website (http://billmeridian.com/articles-files/marsvesta.htm) that the turning points have drifted back by about 15 degrees in recent times. Many of the earlier writers on astrological cycles had assumed that cycles are symmetric: that the high point and the low point in the cycle are 180 degrees apart. Meridian finds that the falling phase of the Mars-Vest cycle is 150 degrees long, and the rising phase 210 degrees long. He has also looked in great detail at the Sun-Moon cycle in the US Dow-Jones index (http://www.billmeridian.com/lunar.htm). As the results are extensive and easily available, I will just point-out that this work is a classic example of the detail that needs to be considered in this kind of work, and the need to look at different periods to see how the cycle might have changed over time as the nature of the market changed.
Another contribution by Meridian is in stock trading using the charts of individual companies. There are a number of possible charts that could be used to make predictions about the share price of a company: start of business, incorporation, the initial public offering (IPO) of the shares, or when the shares first traded on a stock exchange. Meridian argues that the first trade is the important chart and discusses a number of examples of such charts and the effect of transits to them. He provides over a thousand first trade charts in his book “Planetary Stock Trading III”. The details of individual stock trading using astrology is a large subject and falls outside the scope of this article. Readers interested in this should consult Meridian’s website and book.
The Magi Society are a US based group who have developed a way of doing natal and financial astrology based on patterns between the planets; not just trines, T-squares, etc. but for example four planets in a rectangular pattern but not necessary of trines and sextiles. Their methods are explained in detail on their website: www.magiastrology.com which includes a number of lessons in ‘Magi Astrology’. Important developments in their practice are an emphasis on declination aspects (giving them as much weight as aspects in longitude), use of both heliocentric and geocentric aspects, and the use of Chiron as a major financial planet. As well as using transiting patterns to predict markets (particularly equity markets), they also use transits to the incorporation and first-trade charts of companies. Some of the techniques of Magi Astrology may seem strange at first sight, but are worth exploring through their website.
Charles Harvey was one of the foremost astrologers of the late 20th century. Although he undertook considerable research in mundane and financial astrology, he presented most of his results at conferences and ‘research days’. Consequently, there is little accessible material. We do know from his teaching that he had a keen interest in harmonics and researched a number of higher harmonic aspects in relation to financial markets (in addition to the standard first, second, third, fourth and sixth harmonic aspects), and that this is an important area for further research.
Harvey did some interesting work with Mike Harding on the triggering of slow moving aspects by faster planets and noted how the Jupiter-Saturn trine of 1989 was triggered by the Sun on the week-end before the Black Monday crash of 19th October. Triggering is a continuing theme in financial astrology.
A further important collaboration with Harding helped us understand why different stock markets react in different ways. He showed how the transiting Ascendant and Midheaven, as they change sign and as they aspect the different planets change the ‘feel’ of the day and the emotional response of traders. Because of the difference in angle positions between, say, London and New York, the feel of any particular moment will be different in the two centres. This work should be investigated further by interested researchers.
Graham Bates, in his jointly authored book Money and the Markets developed ideas about cycles and about aspect triggering. As with Matlock and Meridian, Bates has treated an astrological cycle (of a planet through the zodiac or between two planets) as a complete 360-degree sequence of moves, not as a series of aspects. Cycles are not symmetric, and major moves, or highs and lows do not always occur at traditional aspect points. He also notes that the details of a cycle depend on the market; so even a simple Sun zodiac cycle, or a Sun-Moon cycle will vary in detail between the UK FTSE100 equity index and the US Dow Jones index.
As noted above, Rieder found a double cycle of Mars, with alternate retrograde stations being particularly powerful. Bates has taken this further and shows detailed cycles graphs for the double cycles of Mercury-Uranus, Sun-Mars and Moon-Jupiter and the triple cycle of heliocentric Mercury through the zodiac. To be clear, the market movements do not repeat every cycle, but only over the two or three full cycles. This area deserves much more study.
Finally, as Rieder, Williams and Harvey found, Bates notes that the market timing of outer planet aspects such as Jupiter-Saturn is dependent on triggering by a faster planet, typically, the Sun. This is another area that deserves much more research. Improvements in the astrological timing of market moves may well come from a more detailed study of triggering.
Most of the researchers discussed above: from Krohn and Adams up to Matlock, had to use manual calculation and hand analysis: a very time consuming activity that seriously limited the scope of their research. The advent of the PC has opened-up the possibility of astrologers conducting in-depth research on long data-series. This has been facilitated by the financial astrology software that has been developed since the late 1980s. This review would not be complete without mentioning some of the pioneering writers of financial astrology software.
Robert Hand and Bill Meridian produced AstroAnalyst for Astrolabe Software in 1987. Although there had been other astrology programs for the PC, this was the first specifically designed for financial astrology research. In 1989, Alphee Lovoie of Air Software produced the Market Trader program. These programs integrated price series with aspects and cycles, making the detection aspects at turning points, for example, simple and visual. Since then, a number of other programmers have produced such software, often aimed at traders.
Suggestions for further research
Those wishing to contribute to our understanding of financial astrology have a number of areas that would repay investigation. Rather than trying to look at multiple asset categories or multiple markets, it is easier to make progress if a well-defined area is chosen, for example, the UK FTSE100 share index, or the price of Gold, or the US Dollar / Euro exchange rate.
[Editor's update: Interested readers should also research the work of Arch Crawford, Jeanne Long and Grace Morris.]
The following techniques and topics deserve further work:
- Testing of the techniques proposed by Sepharial, Langham, Jensen, etc. in the context of modern stock markets.
- Changes in the effect of aspects or cycles depending on the zodiac placement of the aspect or cycle planets.
- Multiple-planet patterns and how one aspect modifies a connected aspect.
- Aspects to Midpoints (a very neglected area).
- Higher harmonic aspects, particularly the prime number series of 5th, 7th, 11th, etc.
- Intra-day transiting angles, changing sign and aspecting planets, and how this affects the market in different geographical locations.
- Sub-harmonic cycles (double cycles, triple cycles, etc.)
- Triggering of outer planet aspects by faster moving planets.
- Disentangling how multiple cycles, for example Moon to 0AR, Moon to North Node, Moon to the Sun, etc. interact, cancel-out or reinforce.
Author: Graham Bates
Graham Bates is co-author of Money and the Markets: An Astrological Guide, along with Jane Chrzanowska Bowles.
G. Bates & J Chrzanowska Bowles (1994), Money and the Markets: An Astrological Guide, Aquarian, London.
D Bradley (1948), Stock Market Prediction: The Planetary Barometer and How to Use It. Los Angeles: Llewellyn Publications.
K Christino (2004), What Evangeline Adams Knew, Stella Mira Books<
L J Jenson (1935), Astro-Cycles and Speculative Markets, updated edition 1978 by Lambert-Gann Publishing Co, Pomeroy WN, USA.
L Krohn (1912), Market Fluctuations and Business Crises in the Light of Astrology, Modern Astrology, Vol 9 (new series), numb 11, pp 451-456
J M Langham (1932), Planetary Effects on Stock Market Prices, The Maghnal Publishing Co.
J M Langham (1938), Cyclical Market Forecasting Stocks and Grain, The Maghnal Publishing Co.
C C Matlock (1977), Man and Cosmos: A Theory of Endeavor Rhythms, Development Cycles Research Project, Waynesville NC, USA
L McWhirter (1988), The Astrology of Stockmarket Forecasting, ASI Publishers Inc., New York, USA. (Originally published as McWhirter Theory of Stock Market Forecasting, in 1938)
B. Meridian (1994), Planetary Stock Trading III, Cycles Research, New York, USA
B. Meridian (1985), The Mars Vesta Cycle in U.S. Stock Prices, Journal of the Astrological Association of Great Britain, Vol 25, Number 3, p 121
T. Rieder (1972), Astrological Warnings and the Stock Market, Pagurian Press, Toronto.
Sepharial (Walter Gorn Old), (1912). The Law of Values, reprinted by Cosimo Inc. 2007
Sepharial (Walter Gorn Old), (various dates), The Arcana or Stock and Share Key, reprinted 2004 as a collected edition by Kessinger Publishing Co.
D Williams (1982), Financial Astrology, American Federation of Astrologers Inc., Tempe, Arizona, USA