Members-only podcast episode

Chris Brennan Gets Fatal(istic)

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Our conversation with Chris Brennan continues, covering a a whole range of subjects. We talk about:

  • The philosophical worldview lying behind his own astrological practice,
  • Reconsidering Ptolemy’s long-held reputation as the authority on Hellenistic astrology,
  • More discussion of two fundamentally different approaches to astrology, one regarding the stars as causes, the other as signs,
  • The role of fate in Chris’ own thinking,
  • Which partially arose from practical experiments with powerful astrological techniques preserved only by Vettius Valens (2nd c.),
  • We discuss the ‘Barnum effect’, human confirmation bias, and the prospect of empirically-testable Hellenistic astrological data,
  • The interpretive trickiness of astrology, omens, and other forms of divination,
  • The possible nature and functions of astrological ‘archetypes’,
  • The esotericism found in the Hellenistic astrological texts, and Chris Brennan’s interpretation of these ancient strictures of secrecy for his own work as an expounder of the tradition,
  • Chris’ ongoing project of teaching and practising a revived Hellenistic astrology.

And in case you can’t get enough Hellenistic astrology (and who can?), check out Chris’ podcast, where this episode may be of particular relevance.

Works Discussed in this Episode:


  • Herodotus: the story of king Croesus’ ill-fated oracle can be found at I.53.
  • Cicero’s De fato, On Fate, is mentioned in this episode. The work comes down to us not-quite-complete, but remains the best work devoted to Hellenistic ideas on fate surviving from antiquity, and it’s a doozy. Well worth a read.
  • Ptolemy dismisses ‘numbers’ and ‘lots’ in Book 3, Chapter 4 of the Tetrabiblos, his great work on astrology (on which much more in a coming episode devoted to Ptolemy).


  • Brennan, C., 2017. Hellenistic Astrology: the Study of Fate and Fortune. Amor Fati, Denver, CO. Highly recommended if you want to get serious about Hellenistic astrology.
  • Forrest, S., 2012. Yesterday’s Sky. Seven Paws Press, Borrego Springs, CA. A piece of dicey-looking astrology which was mentioned in the episode as having been endorsed by a famous actor. Good for him.
  • Gauquelin, M., 1955. L’Influence des astres: √©tude critique et exp√©rimentale. Editions du Dauphin, Paris. This book sparked the modern ‘Mars effect’ debate over the efficacy of astrology.