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Egyptian Decans: Star Gods of Time


I am excited to share my newest presentation, Egyptian Decans: Star Gods of Time, on November 20, 2021. The inspiration for this talk began more than 20 years ago while in graduate school, when in 1999 I translated an astro- hermetic text, The Scared Book of Hermes to Asclepius on the 36 Decans. This Greek language text was written in the 1st century incorporating the Egyptian decans into the emerging Hellenistic and Hermetic astrology. It contained instructions for making 36 magical rings consisting of the name and figure of an Egyptian decan deity, a specific gemstone, botanical plant, and metal to protect the wearer from a bodily affliction to which they were vulnerable as indicated by their natal chart.

It was a thrilling experience, having learned just enough ancient Greek to be able to make my way through a text. In this case, the text was from the early stratum of Hellenistic astrology, attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, a legendary mystical figure who was reputed to be the spiritual fountainhead of astrology, alchemy, and magic. And, at that time there was no English translation. I felt a sense of awe, as if opening a long-buried treasure chest of hidden knowledge waiting to be discovered, where each word in turn revealed its meaning. 

At that time, my hope was to publish a more refined translation and commentary that involved researching the specific plants and stones that were indicated. But sometimes life has other plans. Teaching ancient history and Hellenistic astrology at Kepler College and beyond, and then writing the two volumes of Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice consumed the next two decades. In spare moments, I continued gathering information and resources for when I could return to the Sacred Book, which has been patiently waiting for my attention.

In the interim, several contemporary academics have also discovered this text and have tried to identify ancient amulets with the decan deities, stones and plants . Despite their commendable and exhaustive research, in some cases the ancient names and figures still elude modern correlations, leading to ongoing uncertainty and disagreement over the correlations. Of greater concern, this research generally ignores the ancient astronomy of the decans as well as the chronology of astrological decan doctrines and the audience for whom this text was composed. This is where I hope to make a contribution for the intellectual and practical interests of our astrological community.

I’ll begin by explaining the astronomy of the decans and their history since 2400 BCE as an integral part of Egyptian religion and cosmology. We’ll look at how the decans first merged with the zodiac at the dawn of the Hellenistic era. Then we’ll discuss the options that an astrologer would have had in identifying the correct decan for making the protective healing amulet, as well as the suggested materials for each magical decan ring.  And finally, we’ll explore the fascinating 2000-year journey of the text itself through its various owners and manuscript traditions, and its finding eventual refuge in the archives of several international libraries before opening its ancient teachings to us here in the 21st century.

I hope you can join me.