W. J. Tucker and Scientific Astrology
– November 24, 2007 – January 16, 2008
– Slightly corrected, November 26, 2014
One of the most prolific twentieth century English astrological authors, W. J. Tucker, is almost unknown today in the west, thanks to every single one of his many works having fallen seemingly terminally out of print since the last edition of his work on the fixed stars was published in a softcover reprint by Aquarian some 28 years ago in 1979.
Yet this astrologer authored no fewer than twenty-six astrological texts published between the early 1930s and the late 1960s, in addition to preparing and publishing a useful set of star maps and editing and publishing his own astrological journal for one and a half years; and he was at the heart of the European international astrological community for many of those years.
He was also one of the foremost advocates writing in the English language of the European intellectual movement towards a scientifically established model of astrology, his interest in astrological research founded in empirical analysis of the distribution of cases in relation to astrological placements giving his voice much in common with those of Charles Carter and Maurice Wemyss (though he was apt to mark his ideas out in strong opposition to those of Carter), while he went further than them to postulate mechanisms for astrology’s operation on a purely physical level of functioning.
Born on November 19th 1896 in London at 08:19am (source: http://www.astrotheme.fr/portraits/B2TX27AkymtU.htm), he had Sun, Mercury, Saturn and Uranus all in Scorpio in his nativity, and all of them in mutual conjunction, being placed at 27, 21, 22 and 24 degrees Scorpio respectively. This multiple conjunction speaks volumes for his ideas and their expression in my opinion. He had a very distinctive, outspoken, independent intellectual voice which could be extremely inventive and original and yet insisted on grounding its originality in the known and accepted principles of science and reality. And his intellectual interests were strongly focused on psychology, medicine, and the place of astrology in both.
In keeping with this intellectual bent, he founded a body I believe to have been called the British Federation of Scientific Astrologers (but if not, its name was certainly similar; I regret that I do not have references immediately to hand by which to verify it) in the mid-1930s and actively attended European congresses on scientific astrology, meeting cordially with his continental counterparts from France and other European countries where the scientific approach to astrology was all the rage at the time.
It would be a mistake to underestimate how powerfully pervasive this intellectual movement was in its influence upon the serious end of the spectrum of astrological practice and theory in the 1930s in Europe, to the extent that it even crossed into the USA, where the American Federation of Scientific Astrologers was born in 1938. (For reasons I do not yet know, the AFSA appears to have taken the decision some time between 1942 and 1946 to cut the epithet ‘Scientific’ from its name, with the result that it then became merely the AFA; and so it has remained, as the American Federation of Astrologers, ever since.)
So why has Tucker fallen out of favour with the astrological publishing industry since 1979? The answer might perhaps lie in copyrights. Since the vast majority of his works were self-published under his own publishing label ‘Pythagorean Publications’, it is possible that he left no co-operative heir on his passing. However, several of his works are still perennially popular and remain in print in India, perhaps indicating that the publishers who acquired the Indian rights from him during his lifetime retain them to this day.
What else should the popularity of his works in India tell us about this particular western astrologer?
First of all, that he took a keen and pro-active interest in Hindu astrology, and, unusually for a westerner from England, was an advocate of the sidereal zodiac. He also appears to have obtained some kind of a qualification in Jyotish, to judge by his signature on one of his last self-published books, ‘Study the Stars’ in 1968, though I must plead ignorance as to what this one means: Jyothivibooshanan.
Most of his books were published when he was in his sixties and early seventies, in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, though perhaps many were written earlier; but he also had several of them published in the 1930s originally. Let’s have a look at a shortlist of his astrological and psychological publications (my brief notes in brackets):
First published in the 1930s; of these, 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8 were all reprinted in the 1960s by Pythagorean Publications:
1. ‘Your Stars of Destiny’ (influences of the Ascending degree on physical appearance, in relation to the fixed stars)
2. ‘The Principles of Scientific Astrology’
3. ‘The Principles, Theory and Practice of Scientific Prediction’
4. ‘Set of Twelve Indispensible Star Maps’ (showing positions of key fixed stars in two dimensions)
5. ‘Science and Astrology’ magazine (in twelve substantial issues spanning eighteen months, 1935-6)
6. ‘The How of the Human Mind’ (psychology)
7. ‘The How, Why and What of Astrology’ (an elementary text-book)
8. ‘The Fixed Stars and Your Horoscope’
First published in the late 1950s to early 1970s, all except ‘Astrological studies’ by Pythagorean Publications (in no particular order):
9. ‘Forecasting World Events’ (mundane astrology)
10. ‘Stars Over England’ (‘An Astrological Study of the Elizabethan Era’)
11. ‘Astrology and Your Family Tree’
12. ‘Genetics and Astrology’
13. ‘Physics and Astrology’
14. ‘Foundations of Astrology’
15. ‘It Is In the Stars’
16. ‘Predicting from the Stars’ (his second work on predictive astrology; the contents are quite distinctive from that of #3 above)
17. ‘Astromedical Diagnosis’ (medical astrology work #1)
18. ‘Astrology and the Abnormal Mind’ (medical astrology work #2)
19. ‘Astromedical Research’ (medical astrology work #3)
20. ‘Astromedical Resurvey’ (medical astrology work #4)
21. ‘Astropharmacology’ (medical astrology work #5)
22. ‘Astronomy for Students of Astrology’
23. ‘Investigating and Co-ordinating the Psyche’ (psychology)
24. ‘Astrological Studies’ (set of four slim softcover volumes, co-authored with Elizabeth Tessier and published in 1975, when Tucker was 78 years old
25. ‘Destiny, Cybernetics and Astrology’
26. ‘Astrology for Everyman’ (a general textbook of astrology)
27. ‘Ptolemaic Astrology’ (commentary on the Tetrabiblos)
28. ‘Autobiography of an Astrologer’
29. ‘Study the Stars: A Refresher Course of Instruction in Modern Astrology’ (a general textbook but meant to be a little simpler than 26)
30. ‘Secrets of Astrology’ (a very basic, short sun sign guide)
31. ‘The Harmony of the Spheres’ (numerology, with some relations drawn to astrology, as far as I can remember)
32. ‘Man and His Destiny’ (philosophy)
33. ‘Follies of Mankind’ (psychology)
He also translated Volguine’s work ‘La Technique des Revolutions Solaires’, his translation being published as ‘The Solar Revolutions’ in 1969. (A rival translation of this work was published by A. S. I. publishers under the name ‘The Technique of Solar Returns’ seven years later in 1976.)
Last and least on his credit list as far as astrologers are concerned would be his translation of a novel called ‘Green Avalanche’ by a Georgette Robinson.
The Indian edition of ‘Study the Stars’ is much more common than the original Pythagorean Publications edition. Peculiarly, for reasons that escape my imagination, it was renamed in India ‘Study by the Stars’.
In 1968 he announced that two further books called ‘Principles of Democracy’ and ‘Philosophy and Astrology’ were ‘awaiting publication’. However, I can find no evidence in library records that either was ever published.
A friend of mine informs me that some years ago New Library (the British company that publishes most of Robert Zoller’s works currently) purchased the entire collection of Tucker’s unpublished work and manuscripts, and that it is a very voluminous collection indeed. I’m sure this must be a fascinating collection to see for anyone who has the chance!
Personally I have collected copies, in some edition or other, of all of his published works I listed above except ‘Man and His Destiny’, ‘Follies of Mankind’ and ‘Green Avalanche’. They are all very interesting to read and study, even though one doesn’t necessarily always find oneself agreeing with Tucker on every astrological belief he expounds! My personal favourites are his five works on medical astrology, which really ought to be gathered together into an omnibus volume and put back in print – if only someone out there could find out who owns the copyright, this might be achievable even. However, second-hand original copies of most of Tucker’s works are relatively easily available.
– (In response to a question from Garry Phillipson about Tucker’s autobiography:)
From memory, though, it mostly describes his life as an astrologer, with interesting insights into his commercial ventures such as the sadly short-lived running of his very interesting journal ‘Science and Astrology’. I rather doubt it’s going to give you a summary of his philosophical and technical understanding of astrology in itself, and also doubt that you’ll find that in any one of his books, since he spread out his many ideas on the subject between different volumes, and I’ve tended to find that ideas elucidated thoroughly in one are at best sketchily referred to in passing elsewhere.
It’s a shame that his title ‘Philosophy and Astrology’, which was listed as ‘forthcoming’ in some of his last published books in his Pythagorean Publications imprint in the late 1960s, was never published, but I suspect that it does most probably exist in the archive discussed earlier of his unpublished documents owned by New Library. Since they will also no doubt have many of his other published works (at least, I suspect so, though I might be mistaken), you might find it worth contacting them and applying to inspect the collection as a bona fide scholar (which of course you are) with a particular interest in the area.
However, the books of his which to me stand out as being among the most interesting include ‘Physics and Astrology’ (in which he attempts to elucidate a purely scientific, physical model of astrological functioning, although I somewhat suspect that not all of this would stand up to close scientific analysis today), his technical works on predictive astrology ‘Predicting from the Stars’ and ‘Scientific Prediction Vol. I’, his very successful book on the fixed stars (variously titled ‘Your Horoscope and the Fixed Stars’ or ‘The Fixed Stars and Your Horoscope’, depending on the edition), his book on the astrological physiognomy of the ascending degree (‘Your Stars of Destiny’), and his five works on medical astrology ‘Astromedical diagnosis’, ‘Astromedical Research’, ‘Astromedical Resurvey’, ‘Astropharmacology’ and ‘Astrology and the Abnormal Mind’. Also worth reading are his popular general works ‘The Principles of Scientific Astrology’ and ‘Astrology for Everyman’.
PS: Oh, and I forgot to mention his mundane work ‘Forecasting World Events’, which is well worth looking at!