- What is Astrolearn?
- Archive of Astrological Literature
- Bibliography of Astrological Literature
- Facsimiles of out-of-copyright Astrological Texts
- Appeal for Funding: Sponsors Sought
- About Philip M. Graves
- Astrology Books and Journals Wanted
Astrolearn is an astrological learning and reference resource created and managed by Philip M. Graves, a British astrological historian who has also lived for a year in France and over ten years in Sweden. The resource is centered around an archive of printed astrological literature.
The Astrolearn web site was launched in December 2014, a decade after its original outline conceptualisation.
Currently still in the early stages of design and development, Astrolearn will be frequently added to over the coming years, the aim being to develop it into one of the most useful astrological information sources and reference resources on the Internet.
One of the major projects underway at Astrolearn is the establishment of a thorough online bibliography of printed astrological literature based upon direct access to and examination of the holdings of the archive of astrological literature maintained and developed by Graves with the help of donations from within the astrological and academic communities.
The library now numbers approximately 7,580 discrete volumes of books and pamphlets on astrology and closely related topics, in addition to over 12,000 individual issues of hundreds of periodicals. This tally ranks it among the most extensively stocked with printed astrological literature of all recorded libraries in Europe today, though it is only modest in its overall size compared with typical publicly funded and institutional libraries that hold books on a much wider range of subjects.
The books section encompasses modern critical editions, facsimiles and translations of ancient and medieval texts; over fifty original printings of major works in both Latin and English from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries; a very extensive range of original 19th, 20th and early 21st century texts in English, French and German; and numerous modern historical studies and dissertations by the foremost scholars in the field.
The periodicals section holds examples and in many cases substantial or even complete runs of hundreds of vintage 20th century magazine, journal and almanac titles in English, French and German, and some even earlier ones in English.
Graves has had a natural affinity with learning foreign languages for as long as he can remember, and lends that to his keen interest in bringing together the extensive French-language and German astrological literature with the English-language equivalent under one roof. The result is a uniquely broad-based historical and contemporary research resource.
The catalogue corresponding to our astrology library had been annotated with over 4000 bibliographical footnotes, and almost completely uploaded to Astrolearn in hundreds of portions indexed from the Bibliography page, by the end of 2015.
It details not only publications’ key attributes (author / editor, title, publisher name and address, year), but also, in the cases of all books published before 1960 and most hardbacks, academic books and historical works published since then, binding format details and full pagination information.
It is our hope further to develop the bibliography in the future with an evaluative role facilitating the critically informed selection by astrologers and students of the history of astrology of important primary and secondary source materials in different areas of the subject. The catalogue as it stands is expected to be of use to bibliophile collectors of astrology books and antiquarian booksellers, in addition to those searching purely for a guide to the information content of astrological literature.
The German-language periodicals section has been fully catalogued offline, and was mostly uploaded in late May 2016, with a further title following in early July. The remaining few titles will be added at a later date. The German section of the library, while it is already rich in classic twentieth-century works, still requires significant future development over the decades to come, in order to bring it up to the standard of the French and English-language equivalents.
A special collection of books and journals donated by Dr. Geoffrey Dean was gratefully received in Sweden in the Spring of 2016 and subsequently shelved in the Autumn of 2018 following the relocation of the library to the United Kingdom. While its periodical holdings have now been fully integrated into our library catalogue, its book holdings have yet to be catalogued, but are recognised as including a considerable number of titles and editions previously lacked by the library, as well as some duplicates.
In the Spring of 2018, a number of wholesale lots originating in the library of the late German astrologer Heinz Specht was auctioned, and we purchased many of these. They included a mixture of astrological and non-astrological contents. The non-astrological ones have been set aside to prioritise the astrological ones in our limited bookcase space; and cataloguing work on these has recently begun. In addition to many duplicates, they include materials unique to the overall library.
We would welcome donations of all relevant materials not currently held. Please contact us if you would like your book included in the archive and bibliography. Donations of funds for acquisitions are also gratefully received and used with guaranteed 100% efficiency to purchase additional relevant books and magazines for the archive. You can use the Paypal donations button on the bibliography page to this effect, or contact us to arrange a bank transfer. All donations will be acknowledged with a personal message of thanks.
A substantial number of out-of-copyright titles in the collection has already been converted into electronic facsimiles via high-resolution full-colour scans. These facsimiles are being made available for purchase on demand by all interested parties and individuals, in Adobe PDF format on archival-quality DVD-ROM media. Currently our scanner is awaiting a costly service by the manufacturer before this work can continue, but it is our intention to save for this repair in 2019, and then to produce many more facsimiles in the years beyond.
Astrolearn is presently running at half-mast on a virtual hobby footing as a result of the need for income forcing full-time work in other fields. Neither the web site nor the literary archive on which it is founded is in receipt of any ongoing outside funding at all. The web site is therefore being kept afloat on a shoestring private budget.
However, since 2018 the library has benefitted from its relocation to relatively spacious private premises in the United Kingdom, so overcrowding is no longer a problem as it was at our former address in Sweden.
Nonetheless, we still lack the requisite means to operate as a dedicated research library. And so we hereby appeal to the astrological and broader academic communities to make contact with us to propose funding arrangements that would allow the resumption of our work on a full time basis and make the archive more widely useful to scholars and researchers in the future.
An institutional sponsorship from an adequately funded academic institution (such as a university or a particular department thereof) with a serious interest in the history of astrology could permit a continuous commitment to our work in astrological historical scholarship and education via the Astrolearn platform, as well as the furtherance of the development of the archive itself.
In return for such funding, this website could be customised with appropriate advertising for your institution; and research services could be undertaken on demand to a mutually agreed time allowance. Various possible degrees of integration of Graves’ work and of the use of the library itself into your institution are negotiable. Collaboration with outstanding academic historians and researchers is an aim. Please contact us to discuss your requirements or arrange a meeting if you are interested in possibly becoming our main sponsor.
Institutions and benefactors with connections to the UK are especially eagerly sought in view of our recent relocation here, although international funding would be welcome.
Graves is a B. A. (Hons.) graduate in French (University of Hull), who has also studied Swedish to an advanced level, and basic German, Spanish and Latin. He is a CELTA-qualified teacher of English as a Foreign Language to Adults (ITTC, Bournemouth).
A great-nephew of the poet and author Robert Graves, and son of the biographer Richard Perceval Graves, Philip has always been greatly interested in literature, and has written stories, books and songs since an early age.
As a teenager, Graves developed a strong interest in philosophy, enjoying vigorous debates with a philosophy teacher at his Sixth Form College on the words and reasoning of René Descartes and A. J. Ayer. Although he went on to major in French at university, the B. A. programme at Hull was flexible enough to allow him to read philosophy as a minor in the final year, and he took the opportunity to study modules on moral and political philosophy, aesthetic relativism, and abstract ideas. He was equally enthused by the implicit philosophical dimension of the great French novels and plays on his degree course, feeling a strong intellectual connection to many of their authors.
It was in the summer following the completion of his second year at university that Graves began his serious study of astrology from a small selection of books, taking them out with him to France for his year abroad and filling many spare hours with learning and practice. The subject, having previously awakened in him a relatively casual level of interest, now became a consuming fascination, prompting him to seek out many further books as soon as he returned to Britain the following June. A second summer of intensive study ensued.
By the Autumn following, Graves had written an original paper on the theory of harmonic aspects and submitted it under a pseudonym to the Astrological Association of Great Britain for consideration. Although it was not ultimately accepted for publication (the pseudonym was probably a bad idea for gaining the confidence of the board), he was undeterred. By the time of his graduation from his B. A. one summer later, he had acquired and thoroughly absorbed the contents of at least fifty books on astrology, despite having latterly been kept extremely busy with the demands of his academic examinations. Following graduation, he continued to study in private and seek out new and further relevant sources.
Graves became involved in the online astrological community, engaging enthusiastically in real-time astrological discussions and debates in Internet fora, with astrologers of all levels of proficiency from novice students to professionals, and with sceptics. One December, he was offered, and accepted, the voluntary post of assistant manager in a new astrological web-group in the MSN Communities network that had been set up by an older astrological chat friend from Los Angeles. The following summer, the founding manager of the group promoted Graves to joint managerial status to further encourage his efforts. Together, from opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and despite never having met in person, the two of them developed one of the three largest astrological groups in the network over the following years, bringing it cumulatively beyond 6,000 registered memberships, assisted by an active body of subsequently recruited assistant managers, with whom votes on all important decisions affecting the community were shared on an equal basis. It was a collective, co-operative volunteer effort in the best tradition.
To this entirely non-commercial community venture, Graves especially contributed his web design skills and numerous carefully researched articles on the basics of astrology, most of which are now found archived at Astrolearn. The parts of his lengthy article on the planets in astrology that dealt with the outer planets were accepted for parallel publication on Skyscript by Deborah Houlding, this marking the start of a long and happy association with the traditional astrology community.
During the course of his years working in the aforementioned MSN community, Graves invested heavily in further literary resources on astrology; soon, his long-term vision for the Astrolearn project had started to take shape in his mind, leading to his acquisition of the domain name. A decade of deeper historical study followed.
Graves has assisted several prominent astrologers with their research during the past ten years, starting with his late friend Maurice McCann, and has been credited for his help in the acknowledgements of at least seven books, as well as writing the foreword to one of those seven, namely Wade Caves’ annotated new edition of William Lilly’s autobiography as published by Rubedo Press in 2015. He is a friend of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, and a vocal supporter of the study of astrology and its history in academia, and of statistical research into astrology.
In 2016, Graves began contributing a series of occasional original articles on the literary history of astrology to the Astrological Journal of the Astrological Association of Great Britain. The first, covering the history of astrological journals from 1700-1830, was published in the July / August 2016 issue.
In early July 2017, he lectured on the philosophy of astrology in England between 1784 and 1811 at an annual Italian astrology conference held in Perugia. Since then, his history-focused articles have frequently appeared in Infinity Astrological Magazine.
Having personally overseen and developed the astrological library catalogued in these pages since an early age, Graves believes he is ideally placed in terms of hard-won knowledge to continue in a fully-developed librarian role in the future, subject to suitable institutional partnerships or other satisfactory funding arrangements being achieved.
We continue to look for relevant materials to add to the archive. The periodicals sections of the bibliography are a good place to check if you happen to have any vintage astrological magazines, journals or almanacs you might wish to pass on. All genuine offers of issues presently lacked of relevant publications, especially those already partly collected, are warmly welcome.
Priority attention will be given to:
- 1. Astrological journals and magazines of all kinds in English, French and German that are dated not later than 1970;
- 2. Serious astrological journals for astrologers (but not mass-market popular astrology magazines) in all European languages even after 1970.
- 3. All issues of Zadkiel’s, Raphael’s, Simmonite’s and Orion’s almanacs that are so far lacked;
- 4. Scarce original books (including academic books) on astrology from 1800 to the present day that the collection so far lacks altogether or has only in poor or defective condition as shown by the detailed description.
Though present financial circumstances largely restrict us to the consideration of donations, if you have something more valuable that fits into this collection and that you wish to sell, but not urgently, please do contact us nonetheless, because it is possible that improved future economic circumstances may allow this. For all enquiries, please contact Graves on solger [at] comhem.se or solger75 [at] gmail.com or using the Contact Us form provided. Thank you!
 Count updated November 2019. This figure counts different editions of the same essential work once for each distinct edition held, and multi-volume works once for each distinct physical volume, but does not include duplicate copies of the exact same edition. It excludes all almanacs, journals and magazines, and also excludes the several foreign language reference works (i.e. dictionaries and grammars) and all audio books that are in the collection.
But it includes all other physical books, even those of only indirect relevance to astrology: notably, the Collected Works of C. G. Jung; several tarot-related volumes and dreams-related volumes; and the esoteric works by A. E. Waite, Douglas Baker, Alice Bailey, Helena Blavatsky, and occasional other writers that are useful background reading for understanding the cultural context.
Caches of correspondence are counted as one item per themed cache even if they include many letters; and the Catherine Thompson papers are also collectively counted as one item though they are diverse and quite numerous. Works on the Sun signs divided into twelve separate volumes that are not bound together in a slipcase are counted as twelve separate items, but those held in a slipcase are counted as one item.
The various separately-issued parts of Kugler’s Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel, and those of the Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, have been counted once for each originally issued physical volume or fascicule, even though in our stocks, multiple volumes have been rebound together as one in both cases. The various separately-issued parts of Virolleaud’s L’Astrologie Chaldéenne have been counted as rebound – thus as only three volumes in total, though these volumes comprise many more fascicules. The courses of C. C. Zain have been counted once for each physical volume, although the component lessons of each multi-lesson volume are separately listed in the bibliography and are sometimes found as separate pamphlets. The same is true for all other volumes in the collection whose component parts have been separately itemised in the bibliography: only one count has been awarded for each physical volume.
The count excludes some unique additions from the as-yet uncatalogued Geoffrey Dean and Heinz Specht materials.
 On a global scale, the long-established library of the American Federation of Astrologers in Tempe, Arizona, United States has laid claim for more than five years to 7500 books and over 10,000 periodical issues, and is therefore reasonably presumed somewhat larger by now, especially if the estimates were on the conservative side several years ago; but within Europe there is presently no known claimant to more extensive holdings of books and periodicals on astrology than our archive.
Other substantial astrological libraries whose extent has been at least approximately quantified include that of the Astrological Association of Great Britain (6500 book titles, of which 20% duplicates, therefore presumably 5200 unique titles, and about 6500 unique journal issues, according to personal correspondence from current librarian Trudie Charles dated March 2015); and the overall library of the University of Illinois (integrating but not restricted to the Michael Erlewine collection, it had 6494 entries for physical books answering to the keywords ‘astrology’ or ‘astrologie’ or ‘astrologia’ in November 2019).
As a member both of the American Federation of Astrologers and of the Astrological Association of Great Britain, and as a personal friend and admirer of the work of Michael Erlewine, Graves supports all these efforts, but believes his private collection offers unique assets and areas of depth of coverage that make it independently valuable.
There are also more narrowly-focused holdings of astrological books at the Warburg Institute Library in London (on October 4th, 2017, approx. 1960 catalogue entries corresponding to the keywords astrology, astrologie, astrologia and zodiac combined at the Warburg Institute itself, expanding to 2776 across all holdings of Senate House Libraries, of which the Warburg Institute is an integral part) and at some other British university libraries; while the British Library claims 4216 books (including early almanacs) and 207 journal titles (number of issues not counted) where astrology OR astrologie OR astrologia is searched for in any field.
 As of July 2016, examples of 165 English-language journal titles, 19 English-language astrological (and 7 non-astrological) almanac titles, 57 French-language journal titles, 12 French-language astrological (and 4 non-astrological) almanac titles, 46 German-language journal titles, 17 German-language almanac titles, and 5 journal titles in other languages, were held by this collection, with all except a couple of the German-language titles having been catalogued on this website.
 These include: Dr. Martin Gansten’s “Primary Directions” (2009); the late David Roell’s modern editions of Vivian Robson’s “A Students’ Text-Book of Astrology” (2010) and of Joseph Blagrave’s “Blagrave’s Astrological Practice of Physick” (2010); Dr. Benjamin Dykes’ “Introductions to Traditional Astrology” (2010) and “Astrology of the World II” (2014); Kim Farnell’s “Leo Rising” (2015); and Wade Caves’ annotated edition of William Lilly’s History of His Life and Times (2015).
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