John Addey -Writings

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A Selection of Writings from John Addey

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Astrology and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Fivefold Divisions and Subdivisions in Astrology

Summing Up

John Addey - brief biography

John Addey was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire in the UK on 15th June 1920 at 8.15am and died at the Royal Homeopathic Hospital, London at 5.17pm on 27th March 1982. 

He attended Ackworth School (in Pontefract, Yorkshire): Ackworth was a Quaker School, although the Addey family were not Quakers themselves, and Addey was much influenced by the spirit of Quakerism – he was a conscientious objector during the second world war – and was later to marry a Quaker. During his time at Ackworth he showed some talent for poetry, but more so for sports: he was captain of most of the various sports teams organised by the school. He was head boy before leaving in 1939 and going on to Cambridge where he read English Literature. 

He left university and join the Friends Ambulance Unit: It was while working here that he was struck down by severe Ankylosing Spondylitis, and was unable to walk without the aid of a stick for the rest of his life. Initial treatment required a 18 month stay in hospital, and it was during this enforced period of immobility that his energies turned inwards towards the two areas of study which were to occupy him for the rest of his life: philosophy and astrology (he had been interested in both from his mid-teens).

He rapidly came under the influence of Charles E O Carter who guided Addey's explorations in both philosophy and astrology. In philosophy this meant an acknowledgement of the worth of all the great world religions and philosophies, but an especial interest in the Platonic tradition; in astrology Carter (who was for some time the President of the Astrological Lodge of the Theosophical Society) encouraged Addey's mystical leanings, but also an appreciation of the rational and scientific approach which can be seen in so much of Carter's own astrological writings. Central to Addey's later work on the Harmonic theory of astrology was the conviction that the mystical and the scientific were not mutually exclusive – in fact that neither was complete without the other. 

After leaving the Amubulance Unit (where he had met and married, in 1946, Betty Poole), Addey worked for a time as a private tutor in Wiltshire before taking up a teaching post at Queen Mary's Hospital for Children, where for many years he taught young polio patients who often were hospitalised for long periods. 

During the ten years immediately after the war, Addey became keenly aware that astrology was an outcast from the scientific mainstream of modern thought not only because of the prejudices of orthodoxy, but also because of the disinclination of astrologers to use the empiric and rational tools being refined by post-enlightenment scientists of all kinds. For this reason Addey was a prime mover in the founding of the Astrological Association of Great Britain in 1958: he was the Association's first Secretary, and, on the resignation of its President Brigadier Roy Firebrace, became its second President, holding the office until 1973, at which point he became the Association's Patron. He edited the organisation's magazine, The Astrological Journal from 1962 to 1972, and was the prime mover in establishing the Association's annual conferences. One further contribution to organised astrology should also be mentioned – he founded the Urania Trust as a registered education charity in 1970.

Addey's most important contribution to modern astrology was the Harmonic theory, which sought to put the understanding of astrological effects on a clear and rational footing. Starting from the great Platonic statement (Timaeus, 37d) that "Time is an image of eternity flowing according to number", Addey identified astrology as "the study of effects in the world of flux and change" in a 1958 article, 'The Search for a Scientific Starting Point' (Astrology, Summer 1958); and later articulated the fundamental law – "all astrological effects can be understood in terms of the harmonics of cosmic periods." (p. 3, A New Study of Astrology). In other words, the temporal world is only truly understood when it is seen as making manifest the great eternal ideas – Platonic Forms – in ordered cosmic periods. 

For Addey, the twentieth century astrology he found at the beginning of his work was a distant echo of an ancient worldview – simplified and, indeed, distorted, by the loss of philosophic understanding. Astrology had been giving ground for many centuries in the West, and, like an army when a battle is lost, it had thrown aside all but the most essential concepts in its enforced retreat. His view was that such constructs of the twelvefold zodiac and house-systems were unable to reflect many of the effects of cosmic periods, great and small. Twelvefold systems allow patterns of 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12 to be analysed (because 12 can be divided by each of these), but do not make 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, or ll-fold cycles to be seen with any ease – let alone patterns greater than 12. The inadequate tools of astrology as he found it would have to be tested and refined: he wrote, "We are all engaged upon the building of a science – a science which of course has practical application as an art. But what are the "stones" with which this Science is to be built? This is an important question, for before any science can be truly unfolded, so as to realise its full potentialities, it must first be reduced to its fundamental concepts."  (The Basis of Astrology, The Astrological Journal, VI, 3, 1964) These fundamental concepts were, he thought, at their simplest, the qualities of number manifesting in time; and the search for some way of understanding these lead to the formulation of his theory of Harmonics: this presented, to those able to appreciate it, a far more subtle and refined way of studying the complex pattern of the numerous cycles which make up the world in which we live, breaking out as it did, of the limitations of the over-simplified twelvefold systems of western astrology.

The practical development of Harmonics was facilitated by the coming age of computers – it is interesting to speculate how much more progress Addey would have made had he lived for a few more years into the era of personal computers, with all the ease of number crunching that they afford. Nevertheless the initial vision of a possible basis for a rational astrology arose from a vantage point of Platonic contemplation, rather than the reductionist myopia of the modern age.  For Addey, the value of astrology was as a way of seeing the great order of time as expressive of the eternal, and the value of the natal chart was that it was, in his words, "a diagram of the soul's contract with time and space" – for he was a convinced Platonist, who took notice of the Republic's myth of Er, in which Plato suggests that the soul continually incarnates having made a positive choice to take on the opportunities and challenges of a particular terrestrial life , lived at a particular time, in a particular place. 

Addey wrote numerous articles – mainly for the Astrological Journal, many of which are now available in his Harmonic Anthology (1976, new edition, AFA, 2011) and Selected Writings (AFA, 1976); his main work was Harmonics in Astrology (1975, latest edition, Eyebright Books, 2010). He was some way through a further book, A New Study of Astrology when he was taken ill in the winter of 1982 – this was completed by Charles Harvey and Tim Addey some years later (Urania Trust, 1996). The latter work included as appendices two small monographs – Astrology Reborn (originally published in 1972) and The Discrimination of Birthtypes (1974).

John Addey had three children, Etain Addey (author, A Silent Joy), Tim Addey (author, The Seven Myths of the Soul, the Unfolding Wings – the Way of Perfection in the Platonic Tradition, and Beyond the Shadows – the Metaphysics of the Platonic Tradition) and Jane Addey.


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