100th Solar Return Year: Remembering Cyril Fagan



May 1996* marks the 100th Solar Return to Cyril Fagan's birthday. To Cyril Fagan, the re-discoverer of Sidereal Astrology, as he phrased it, we who love the truth of the archetypal symbolism of the Star Constellation Zodiac owe an inexpressible debt. He was born Dublin, Ireland (6w15, 53n21) 22 May 1996. Several times are in existence: R.C. Firebrace's 4/70 Spica gives 12:14: 28pm GMT and birthplace as Dunskink, Ireland. Pauline Fagan after his death said that Fagan used 12:25pm GMT as a rectified time.

"Alexander Marr has released data on Fagan's radix "according to his own (Fagan's) information" as 1896 May 22nd, 12h 27m 48s UT Dublin Dunsink, with an additional refined rectification. Dunsink Observatory Time was used as LMT until the adoption of GMT and is 25 minutes earlier than GMT. (Fagan had reported that his mother repeatedly told him he was born at noon.)

It is interesting to note that in May 1996, Transiting Pluto at 7SCO01'rx is near opposition his natal Sun (and will come to exact opposition the end of November 1996). Fagan once wrote of that aspect that it was known to "bring the native out of retirement" and we hope that this will be true of his work.

Since Fagan's first published notice of his work with the Sidereal Zodiac was in 1947, 1997 will mark 50 years of Sidereal Astrology for the West. Rupert Gleadow mentions 1947 in his Origins of the Zodiac as Fagan's first published date, and in April 1970 Spica, Editor R.C. Firebrace, who as a friend and associate of Fagan's, wrote this after his passing. "He [Fagan] told me that it was on February 17, 1944 that he finally accepted the Sidereal Zodiac..." and then was immediately at work with the Lunars. And by April 30, 1944, Fagan had "finally accepted the Sidereal Solar Return" and later made his findings public in a series of articles entitled "Incidents and Accidents of Astrology" which ran in the A.F.A. Bulletin in 1947. Also in an Afterword to Solunars Handbook, Fagan writes that it was "1944 when I first glimpsed the truth of the sidereal system." May 14, 1949 is the day he discovered the date and origin of the historical Hypsomata or Exaltation degrees. He said it came together for him when he was dancing with his wife Pauline.

Evidently that 'straw' that broke the back of the Tropical Zodiac for Fagan was Solar and Lunar Returns, as he found that they did not work for predictive work in the precessing tropical framework and had fallen into disuse. We have found a May 1950 letter by Fagan in response to the use of the Solar Returns "corrected for precession," which letter very clearly states the implications for the tropical zodiac. Those early studies with Solar Revolutions, as they were referred to, indeed started a revolution in thought.

And so something new and very much rooted in the old was reborn into the world, as all great ideas must be in each age. And this study and understanding of an astronomically correct archetypal symbolism implying meaning and connectedness in the universe is still growing. 50 years after the Solar and Lunar "lights" came on, even greatly aided with recent computer technology, is not long to reshape a cosmic study, but it's a good start. Happy 100th Solar Return, Cyril Fagan! And to us all!

*Thanks to Mission Astrology Group (sidereal@hooked.net) for writing regarding a correction as to the actual day of the Solar Return, which would not necessarily occur the same day as birthdate: he writes that the Solar would occur "May 23, 1996 at 20:30:59 pdt (BLue Star) or 20:31:35 pdt (Nova) for San Francisco, Ca (122w25, 37n46)." It is problematic, however, whether residence time should be for California since Fagan is not buried there. Nor for natal Dublin since he is not there either. To my mind, neither burial Residence nor natal Origin is plausible for an actual "post-mortem epoch solar." But Fagan and other astrologers have noted that certain transits to the natals of famous people after they are deceased have brought about posthumous interest and recognition.


"Many Things," 7/1950 A.A. Cyril Fagan, Letter May 21, 1950 from Dublin, Ireland

Solar Revolution

Readers of your ubiquitous magazine will, I am sure, be deeply grateful to Mr. C. M. Bellairs for bringing to their notice the importance of the solar revolution as a prophetic instrument (American Magazine, May 1950). It is not sufficiently realized that the famous priests of Nabu, who officiated in the temples of that god in Borsipps, Calakh and Nineveh, relied almost exclusively on solar and lunar returns for the success of their astrological forecasts. In his Revolutionibus Nativitatum, Hermes says:

"The Babylonians, Persians, Indians and Egyptians, both kings and private persons, undertook nothing in any year without examining their solar revolutions; and if they found the year was good they set to work, otherwise they refrained. The kings examined the nativities of their generals and observed their solar revolutions and if they found that one of the returns indicated power and victory, they sent him against the enemy, otherwise they left him aside. And they observed the nativities not only of their generals but of ambassadors to see if their anniversary indicated a successful result. If it signified prosperity they sent for them, but if not they appointed, instead, others whose anniversary did presage success. In the same manner kings and citizens chose food, drink, medicine, bought, sold and did everything according to their solar revolutions: and they used these things and left aside those likely to be hurtful that year. They deduced both from their own nativities and those of others and acted accordingly. Men wishing to beget a son observed their wife's solar revolution as well as their own and if both signified procreation they cohabited with them; otherwise they looked for other women whose nativities did signify the birth of a son. So the study of solar revolutions is very useful and expedient."

In view of this it might well be asked why it is that such scant attention is given nowadays to the solar return. Why was it that the leading astrologers of the 19th century paid increasingly less attention to the computation of such charts, many of them dropping them altogether out of consideration? Obviously they must have found them valueless. Then what made the ancients put such faith in them; why did they form the backbone of their vaticinations? Because the ancient method was fundamentally different from that now commonly employed. The Hemu-netru of Egypt and the priest of Nabu computed these figures for the Sun's return to the actual place it occupied among the fixed stars at birth, whereas modern astrologers calculate the chart for the Sun's return to its natal tropical longitude. The reader has only to compute the solar return by both methods to realize how very dissimilar are the charts. For a middle-aged person there will be a difference of about 18 hours in time! In effect this implies that the modern method of calculating these returns is incorrect.

Mr. Bellairs suggests, that the difficulty can be obviated by adding the amount of precession equivalent to the native's age to the Sun's longitude at birth, and then computing the solar revolution in the usual manner. But this compromise omits to take into consideration the corrections for aberration of light and for solar and lunar nutation. The corrections for aberration and solar nutation will be reasonably constant but that for lunar nutation will differ from year to year.

But apart from this there is a fundamental error involved in applying a correction for precession to the longitude of the sun. Let us consider the matter a little deeper. Astrologers recognize two methods of defining celestial positions; (a) the sidereal and (b) the tropical. In the sidereal method, measurements of time and space are made from some relatively fixed point in the heavens such as a convenient fixed star like Spica and Regulus. A sidereal day is the interval that elapses between two successive transits of the same fixed star across the midheaven; and a sidereal year is the interval that elapses between two successive conjunctions of the sun with one fixed star. The sidereal coordinates are celestial longitude and latitude which remain constant for thousands of years except for minute changes of position due to the proper motions of the fixed stars. With the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, all longitudes were measured from a fixed star and not from the so-called "first point of Aries," the vernal equinox.

In the post-Ptolemaical tropical system, measurements are made from the every receding equinoctial and tropical points, especially from the vernal-equinoctial point. These move backwards among the fixed stars at the approximate rate of one degree in 72 years, for which reason the "zodiac" now in common use is frequently referred to as the "moving" (not movable?) "zodiac," because it takes its origin from the shifting vernal-point. The tropical system expresses time and space in terms of the seasonal year and its co-ordinates are Right Ascension and Declination. A tropical day is the time that elapses between two successive transits of the vernal-point over the midheaven; and the tropical year is the time that elapses between two successive conjunctions of the Sun with the vernal point. As the latter recedes at about 50.26" per annum, the tropical year is some 20 minutes shorter than the sidereal year.

Now what happens when a correction for precession is applied to the Sun's longitude at birth, that is, to its position in the tropical "zodiac."? To suggest such a procedure is tantamount to denying the validity of the modern zodiac for its "raison d'etre" is in its very tropicality. By adding precession, the modern zodiac ceases to be tropical and becomes quasi-sidereal. Therefore such a procedure is astronomically and astrologically inadmissible. If--as the ancients fund--it is correct to compute the solar revolution ex-precessionally, then on astronomical grounds we have no option but to compute it in terms of the sidereal (fixed) zodiac which for the Egyptians and Babylonians took its origin from Spica as fiducial in Virgo 29.00 degrees (179 degrees).

[Note. when Fagan wrote this in early 1950, before he had the benefit of Garth Allen's SVP correction of 06'05".] The mean tropical longitude of Spica on January 1, 1950 was Libra 23 degrees 08'36", giving the mean sidereal longitude of the vernal equinoctial point as Pisces 5 degrees 51'04" (335 degrees ev' 24").


From Fagan's Astrological Origins bookcover: Born into a well- known medical family in Dublin, Ireland, Cyril Fagan was educated at Belvedere and Castleknock Colleges. Prevented from following in the family tradition through almost totally impaired hearing since childhood, he turned his acutely enquiring mind to other things, many and varied, finally deciding to make the betterment of the subject he loved the most astrology, his life's work.

Dissatisfied with all available material on the subject, he decided to set out and find the answers for himself. He combed the libraries of many of the capitals of Europe and soon concluded that a working knowledge of astronomy and Egyptology was essential if the embryo of astrology was to be unearthed. These he mastered alone as he had done everything else. He has lived in many places over the years including Wales, London, Spain, Morocco, and the USA, and has traveled throughout most of Europe and some of Canada.

Works include Astrological Origins; Zodiacs, Old and New; A Primer of Sidereal Astrology; Symbolism of the Constellations; and a monthly contribution to American Astrology, "Solunars." See also articles in American Astrology under his pseudonym, Ian Cowley, on mundane astrology. Also he made contributions to Spica and other astrological publications.

Cyril Fagan was President/Founder of the Irish Astrological Society, and 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).

The most momentous and revolutionary astrological discovery of all time was made in 1948 by Cyril Fagan, the well-known astrologer and Egyptian scholar. He discovered that the historical exaltation degrees of the zodiac originated in 786 B.C. and that all these degrees were expressed in terms of the zodiac of the constellations and not of the signs. This led him into a whole series of further discoveries which are equally important to the archeologist, the chronologist, the historian, and the astrologer.

First and foremost, he found that the so-called Egyptian decans were in fact Pentads or 5-day star groups, a discovery that immediately led to the identification of most of them. He also solved the precise date of the Inauguration of the famous Sothic Cycle as well as dating the zodiacs of Esna and Denderah.

Other Siderealists

Rupert Gleadow (data from inside of his book he autographed; and I suspect MER culminates rather than Sun): 22 Nov 1909, 11:55 am, Leicester, England.

Brigadier Roy C. Firebrace (publisher of Spica, a sidereal journal) (sent to me by Brigadier Firebrace): 16 Aug 1889; 5:00 pm InterColonial or Atlantic time (-4h 14' 20"); Halifax, Nova Scotia 63w35, 44n38'

Garth Allen (Donald Bradley): (from American Astrology): 16 May 1925; 2:04 am CST; 40n21' 97w35' Nebraska


Contact Mike Magee ac70@cityscape.co.uk

Copyright © 1995 Kay Cavender. All rights reserved.

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