Jeff Mayo

London, 1964, 2nd edition 1979.

This book may yet be in print, though if the 1990 impression I borrowed was the last one, it still enjoyed a good innings as a cunningly disguised spoof on this persistent pastime.

Here is Mayo being philosophically forthright:

"Life... is either the unfolding of an intelligently-conceived purpose, to a pre-ordained pattern of growth, or it is not. There can be no compromise between what is and what is not."

"Through astrology one can get a good indication of what a child will inherit from each parent by comparing their charts with that of the child."

See how the crafty old cove neatly side-steps genetics?

"The essential function of the heart... appears not to be as a causal process of life but, as Dr Rudolph Steiner has indicated, an effect."

Jeff wins extra points here for invoking not just a Doctor, but the venerable Steiner himself, while cheekily doubting the strange idea that the heart causes life.

"Physiologically, the functions of the digestive system... are associated with the Moon... The pancreas regulates sugar supplies for energy; low blood-sugar produces 'emotional instability', a recognized symptom of an afflicted Moon."

A neat little lunar cycle, but how does the moon latch onto the pancreas?

"Venus symbolises the function in Nature that balances, harmonises, resolves, unifies... The impulse is pure feeling... Venus is also associated with the ability to acquire money."

One can only admire the brazen bathos of this last phrase.

"The parathyroids regulate the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. These are indispensable for the building of the skeleton framework which gives form and holds together the human organism, corresponding to the Venus principle of the welding together of complementary factors, the need for a harmonious pattern as a basis to form."

Very nice, but look what's happening over on Saturn:

"Saturn represents in the physical body form and structure... The skeleton gives exterior and interior form..."

Mayo impishly hopes we won't notice the celestial squabble over our bones, and very kindly warns us that "an afflicted Saturn is the chief cause of gallstones."

"Iron, which supplies warmth, has always been associated with Mars."

Here Jeff seems to be simply kidding us. Warmth? Iron? Is this some inscrutable paradox about the "cold steel" of warfare?

"Jupiter is the largest planet... The liver is the largest gland in the human body. Jupiter is essentially associated with the liver's function of purifying the blood, production of glycogen, destruction of poisons and microbes."

One can imagine him winking slyly as he explains the profound correspondence between Jupiter and the liver: being the biggest thing. While we chuckle, he slips the liver an extra job: destroying microbes. Isn't that a job for bloody Mars?

"Uranus and Neptune provide gradual changes and developments in the general characteristics of whole groups or generations of humanity... Sudden nervous breakdowns... all forms of spasms... are attributable to Uranus."

He loves a conundrum, our Jeff.

"Uranus was not known to the ancients, being discovered in 1781... The Uranus principle may well correspond to the pineal body [which] is thought to be the remnant of a 'third eye' referred to in ancient writings and drawings."

It "may well" indeed be a neat bit of anticipation by the ancients. Or it "may well" be something else. There can be no compromise between what may well be and what may well not be.

"Homosexuality and sexual perversions are connected with Uranus."

Jeff is not averse to a bit of saucy innuendo while the student beavers away at his ephemeris.

"Neptune develops... love of the sea. It is the subtle architect of chaos... through... the forces of the unconscious... which tempts escape into... homosexuality."

Now old Neptune gets in on the act.

"Pluto's discovery in 1930 corresponded with the climax of the racketeering and gangsterdom era in the United States... Pluto is associated with the forces which initiate colossal business enterprises and... mob lynchings. Psychologically it is the Whole Self in opposition to a particular discordant or unnecessary feature."

Another puzzle: is Mayo expressing some deep insight about the nature of capitalism, or is this some form of gallows humour (unnecessary features, lynchings)?

"Pathological tendencies of the various signs can be associated with corresponding parts of the body, and fully bear out accepted medical knowledge. With his astrological keys the astrologer can invariably diagnose the psychological disturbance causing a particular physical illness, and vice versa."

More ribbing, given some of the illnesses mentioned: sunstroke, head injuries, pneumonia, venereal disease, rupture, knee trouble, and sprained ankle.

"Because the Ascendant derives from the horizon of a person's birthplace, and is determined by the Earth's rotation, an interesting yet nevertheless consistent fact becomes clear: the personality... is an adopted attitude largely conditioned and impressed upon an individual by his particular Earth-environment."

Marvellous comic "logic" there, Jeff.

"A dustman and a king could both be born at the same time in the same city, but though character-potentialities and the favourable or unfavourable trends throughout life would be identical, their circumstances of birth would provide totally contrasting opportunities for unfoldment."

This is one of the rewards in chapter 13, after the student has struggled through 100 pages of astrological intricacies.

"Mundane astrology... [is] a specialised branch... dealing with political and mundane affairs of any country and the world in general. Usually the charts used for predicting the future affairs of a country are: the chart cast for the time the State was formed (if known), the charts of its ruler and heads of government. An extremely useful branch of astrology worthy of research and practical investigation."

This concluding fragment shows Mayo at his waggish best. Imagine "predicting the future affairs of a country" without reference to other countries, or to history, economics, politics and so on?

I must say I'm surprised that for the second edition Mayo didn't prune back some of the arduous chart calculations in the middle of the book, which are not very amusing at all, but then he may well not be that keen on revisions. This edition includes research undertaken with psychologist Hans Eysenck in 1978, which seemed to indicate correlations between "sun signs" and personality.

In 1982 Eysenck found that this correlation was absent in children and people who knew nothing of astrology. Where's the third edition, you merry prankster?




Paul Taylor 2001