Book Review

Masha'allah, On Receptions
Edited and Translated by Robert Hand.
Published by ARHAT.


We are grateful to Robert Hand for this most important contribution to astrological knowledge, which should be read and carefully studied by all serious astrologers.

It was written originally around 800 AD in Arabic and then translated into Latin by John of Seville, and now Robert Hand has presented it to us for the first time in English 'so that students of traditional astrology can see for themselves what the old writers really said' he explains.

We are fortunate to have this text available in our own language, especially with clear charts included, because if we do not understand the foundation of our subject how can astrology stand? Without knowing the true foundation upon which astrology is built we can be, and are, deceived by any whimsical ideas invented by our contemporaries; astrologers who have never read the works of great astrologers in the past.

Masha'alla's book is not long, but a full appreciation of its contents requires our attention and deep thought. Time taken for its study reaps its own reward.

For those who, like myself, are familiar with Lilly's Christian Astrology there is the fascination of comparing the techniques and methods of the 9th century with those of the 17th century. There are differences and there are similarities. One can recognise that Lilly has absorbed and used information from Masha'allah, but has rejected some also.

Masha'allah empahsises the importance of reception with aspect, (yet says this is not necessary with a benefic or with questions concerning substance,) but believe me, Lilly also mentions reception with aspect frequently, see Christian Astrology page 387 for instance, where Lilly writes 'the application of the Moon to the Lord of the ascendant, though by opposition yet with Reception, was another small argument (for perfection).'

Masha'allah's unique ability to move a planet into the next sign is lost by the 17th century, and there are some small differences. For Masha'allah a sign is 1-30 rather than 0-29. Her ignores orbs and states that combustion cannot occur where there is reception. Lilly emphatically denies him on page 124 of Christian Astrology, 'some have also allowed the Planet from whom the Moon separated as a significator; which I no way approve of'. (This, I believe derives from Dorotheus.)

I much enjoy the way it is assumed that the planets communicate between themselves, and that everything occurs according to the command of God. (Of course it does.)

Masha'allah says some positions are stronger for the planets than others, I quote, 'the strong places in which the spirit which perfects and prepares the matter delights'. Ponder on that! There is consciousness of spirit working through astrology which lifts our subject, and inspires us.

Masha'allah illustrates and interprets a particular horary, 'A Question Concerning a High Office'. This is a masterpiece, a great pleasure to read, and for this alone the book is more than worth buying. This is an interpretation which astrologers of every generation would admire, and proves Masha'allah a great master of our art.

Olivia Barclay



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