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The Family Tree of Astrology


The Family Tree of Astrology

In Spring 2018 I was asked to give a series of three workshops on the family tree of astrology, by The Astrological Lodge of London. 

What follows is a guide to the relationships between Jupiter, Saturn and the rest in your horoscope and a refresher course on astrology and its history, too. I’m often asked about the asteroids on social media, but also in the Comments section, because there is so little information about them in astrology. For those of you who also wanted to know more at the May 2018 workshops just off Baker Street, this is a brief guide to a big subject – how Rome created the astrology we use today.

How Modern Astrology Was Born in 1781

Before Uranus was discovered in 1781, astrology consisted of the Sun and Moon (the lights) and the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. This was the astrology known and loved by the Romans, who adopted the old Greek gods Hermes, Aphrodite, Ares, Zeus and Chronos and gave them new names and adapted characters. The ‘wanderers’ in the sky were given essential qualities, based on the gods and goddesses, that we still recognise today.

The Romans were passionate about horoscopes and their rulers even put their Sun signs on the coinage. Astrology was powerful and it fuelled an empire, some 2000 years ago.

To the Romans, Mercury was the messenger of the gods. Venus was the goddess of love. Mars (the red twinkling planet) was the god of war. Big Jupiter was ‘Optimus Maximus’ as the Romans used to call him. The best and biggest. Saturn was a symbol of heavy curse.

The Romans had many more gods and goddesses, of course, and saw them as a group of 12 in an interdependent circle of complex family relationships. These archetypes were shipped to Britain with the invasion and became part of British life and culture.

In Bath today, for example, you can still visit the Temple of Sulis Minerva. Minerva was Jupiter’s daughter and advisor. She later became merged with Britannia – Rule Britannia – and I’m sure you can recognise her in this helmeted figure below.

I photographed Minerva (here, at The British Museum) for our Astrological Lodge workshops to show how strong an influence this goddess had been on the way we think about ourselves on this small island – particularly in terms of female strength and power. From Hesiod to Lempriere, British education has always been embedded in these Latin ideas about gods and goddesses, and not surprisingly, the symbols have found their way into art, as well as government officialdom.

This is the Enlightenment Room at The British Museum (below) where I sometimes take students, so they can see Minerva, Jupiter (her father), Saturn, Neptune, Apollo and the other family members, in one space.


Look for Minerva when you need solutions.

The Dii Consentes – Twelve Gods and Goddess for Twelve Signs and Twelve Houses

The Dii Consentes was a list of twelve major deities, six gods and six goddesses, in the pantheon of Ancient Rome

The gods were listed by the poet Ennius in the late 3rd century BC –


You’ll notice Saturn and Uranus are missing from this family of 12 gods and goddesses! What is interesting, though, is that the Romans saw their deities in a group of 12, and they were sculpted in the round. This is an intriguing mirror for today’s modern chart with its 12 houses and 12 zodiac signs in a circle.

If you believe astrology evolves over time to keep step with an evolving society, then the rise of software which can enable a stargazer to find – say – Apollo, is fascinating. Apollo was bisexual. Do we now have astrology for the age of equal partnership?

Feminine Archetypes in Modern Astrology

Modern astrology, after the discovery of Uranus was founded on the idea that when a planet was named after a member of the original Latin family of gods and goddesses that began with Mercury, Venus and the rest – it should be integrated into a birth chart. After the shock and excitement of William Herschel’s discovery of Uranus in 1781 came the discovery of Ceres in 1801.

Ceres was celebrated as a new planet that year, and joined Uranus on every European astronomer’s new list. She was then followed by Neptune in 1846 and finally the planet Pluto in 1930, named by the British schoolgirl Venetia Burney.

By the 1850’s Ceres had been reclassified as an asteroid, but in 2006, astronomers changed their minds again and she became a dwarf planet. Also that year, Pluto was ‘killed’ by astronomer Mike Brown, and dropped from the Solar System. Astrologers kept using him in their charts anyway, but his new official status was equal to that of Ceres – dwarf planet.

Slowly but surely, astrologers like me who had taken their degrees in Classics, were beginning to see that astronomers like Mike Brown were achieving something really important for horoscope writers. They were putting the extended clan of Italian deities and planets back together.

Rubens (below) is just one painter who grouped the gods and goddesses as a unit in this way. Below, you can see Venus, Cupid (her son), Bacchus and Ceres at play. Bacchus is the son of Jupiter – another clan member. He is an asteroid in modern astrology, along with Cupido (Cupid). Following the tradition set in 1781, astronomers are enabling astrologers, by not only finding these objects, but naming them. Uranus, named by Johannes Bode, was specifically chosen as he was the father of Saturn and grandfather of Jupiter, who preceded him in the Solar System. Ceres, the planet found and named in 1801, had also been related to Jupiter, through her role as mother-in-law to Pluto.


Venus, Cupid, Bacchus and Ceres by Rubens.


Using Ceres in the Horoscope – and Adding Diana

I began using Ceres from 2006 in my horoscope work for Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar with immediate results. In fact, using Ceres in charts helped women understand Pluto with all his issues about power and control. I predicted Brexit using Ceres. She stood at 23 Aries on the day Britain voted for freedom from the European Union, conjunct Uranus at 23 Aries, quincunx Mars at 23 Scorpio. Even an absolute beginner in astrology could have picked that one!

The twice-reclassified dwarf planet Ceres also told astrologers something vital about horoscope symbols, when they welcomed her back in 2006. Asteroids named for deities in the family tree, should always be included in a chart – partly because at any given moment, astronomers could change their status. Vesta, for example, began life as an asteroid but was promoted to baby planet – making her role as Saturn’s daughter important. Understand her, and you will get to know him, too.

It became clear throughout this period of radical decisions about Ceres and the rest – by astronomers –  that it was the family tree status of the archetypes, not the size or distance of the space rocks, that mattered.

Restoring the family tree in this way also brought strong feminine archetypes back into astrology. Formerly, Venus and the Moon (the lover and mother) had been the only routes to womanhood in a chart. Defined by their relationships with men.

Adding Ceres’ daughter Proserpina began to restore the balance, and with her, the gates opened to the female family members surrounding Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune.

The discovery of Neptune’s wife Salacia in the year of the Asian Tsunami (she rules the ocean, along with her husband) was groundbreaking for astrologers. So too was the inclusion of Diana, who was a symbol of womanhood which had nothing to do with marriage or motherhood. In fact, Diana rejected both these roles. She is just one of the asteroids who have come through to us in the 21st century, thanks to modern software. In fact, Stephanie Johnson and Zane Stein have now created a special program for me within Solar Fire, which you can buy and use immediately. 


Solar Fire Software and Modern Astrology

Before we moved into the 21st century with Stephanie Johnson’s Solar Fire software, created with the brilliance of Zane Stein, astrologers were stuck with some fairly out-of-date and sometimes quite baffling manuals as their handbooks. These were the old ephemerides, which contained oddities like Black Lilith (a Jewish archetype that the Romans would not have understood in the context of the family which began with Mercury, Venus, Mars and the rest).

I sometimes have students at lectures showing me Black Lilith in a free computer chart they grabbed somewhere and wondering what she means. Well – I don’t know either! She’s really part of a different system of divination. Rather like those other symbols, Eris (Greek) and Sedna (from a different country and culture entirely) she doesn’t have a natural relationship with any of the old Roman gods.

Some of the old 20th century publishers and programmers also confused a whole generation of students with the inclusion of Pallas Athene, who was the Greek goddess of wisdom, who was replaced by Minerva some 2000 years ago.

Using Pallas, as she is sometimes called, alongside Jupiter and Saturn, would also have baffled the Romans who would not have understood why this old Greek goddess had any relationship at all with the rest of their Latin family!

If you’re going to start using asteroids named after Greek gods and goddesses, then you may as well start using asteroid Zeus, or asteroid Hermes. Yet – they are the forerunners of Jupiter and Saturn – so you will end up with a very confused horoscope.

It’s like mixing up Artemis with Diana. As you can see in this Rubens painting, below, Diana is a powerful symbol of female strength, independence and feminism – but she evolved from Artemis. Don’t use both.


Diana Returning From The Hunt – Peter Paul Rubens (Wikimedia Commons)


Salacia – Neptune’s Wife – a Trans-Neptunian Object for the 21st Century

We are now at a point in our astrology where a Trans-Neptunian object like Salacia can be picked up, and even given her own picture symbol, by Solar Fire software. This is tremendously exciting, because if you work with Neptune, why would you not want to include his wife? One of the great things about using the restored Roman family in this way is that understanding Salacia, helps you fathom Neptune with more depth. All of which makes for more accurate astrology.

Armed with a copy of Hediod’s Theogeny or Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary of Mythology – not to mention the excellent series of books by my Twitter amigo, bestselling author Professor Mary Beard – you can find out more than you ever thought possible about these old Latin gods and goddesses in your horoscope.

Look to the work of Rubens, too, whose paintings help to illustrate the archetypes so well, along with painters like Klimt, who immortalised the female members of Jupiter’s family.

In 2019, to celebrate the launch of my latest astrology book for Penguin, we will be putting together a beginner’s course online which helps explain how astrology evolved over the last two centuries, and the part that Roman history and Latin texts still plays today, in assisting us with our predictions. If you’re a Premium Member, this will be announced on your newsletter.




Read more: jessicaadams.com


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