To borrow from Wikipedia, John is ‘a traditional astrologer, writer and educator, who has been noted for practicality and directness of approach, a depth of scholarship, and a provocative, challenging and witty style’.
I became interested in astrology at an early age. As a child, of course, it felt good to know something that my friends didn’t know. But beyond the obvious appeal of that, I was intrigued at how astrology gave a different model of the world than what I was being taught in school. That chocolate, rabbits and ballet-dancers are all ruled by Venus showed a different way of joining the dots to make sense of life. This different perspective on reality is what still fascinates me now. Astrology opens the door to all sorts of intellectual speculation – indeed, it demands that we ask some searching questions – but, if the technique is sound, it keeps our feet firmly on the ground with the acid test of ‘this works or it doesn’t work’.
I went through the various schools of modern astrology as the books became available, but was repeatedly frustrated at their limitations. It was as if I could eat and eat, but never felt I’d had a nourishing meal. A chance encounter while doing the day-job introduced me to the work of the 17th-century astrologer William Lilly.
I’d never heard of horary before, but here was this guy who had a reputation for finding people’s lost objects with astrology. With finding a lost object you can’t be almost right. If he had been telling his clients ‘Well, you almost found it’ they would not have been impressed. So either our ancestors were seriously daft or Lilly and his contemporaries were practicing an astrology that can give precise and verifiable results. I was hooked. Here at last was that nourishing meal!
I took a course with Olivia Barclay, who had made such efforts to have Lilly’s book, Christian Astrology, reprinted, and whose teaching was, very loosely, based on that of Lilly. It was the confidence in these methods – in the objectively visible results and, beyond that, the solid core of logic that underlies them – that allowed me to devote myself to astrology as a career. In the twenty years since then I have been blessed to be able to work full-time with astrology - teaching, practicing, writing and, most of all, learning, learning, and learning.
It’s been an odd journey, with so many things that I didn’t notice on the contract of employment when I signed up. The endless variety of subjects for consultation still astonishes me: whenever I think that surely I’ve heard everything, there is certain to be something quite unthought of on its way to me soon. While the beautiful landscapes this intellectual journey reveals astonish me even more.
I began publishing The Astrologer’s Apprentice magazine in 1996. One thing in my career of which I’m particularly proud is the revolutionary effect this had on the staid world of astrological journals. The magazine was a lot of fun to write, but as my understanding grew deeper each issue took longer and longer to prepare. After the article On the Architecture of the Soul in issue 23, I knew it was time to stop. These magazines are all available for free download here.
On the back of the magazine, I was commissioned to write The Real Astrology as a satirical critique of modern astrology. This was followed by The Real Astrology Applied, The Horary Textbook and Sports Astrology. I currently have several books half-written. I’m hoping this long gestation will finally lead to the birth of twins before 2014 is done: a collection of natal studies and Horary Practice.
In the late 1990s, I did a good deal of TV work, even hosting my own daily show Frawley and the Fish, the Fish being a well-known sports journalist. These programmes were a good forum for making verifiable predictions: I get it right or I get it wrong. The solidity of the astrological methods allowed me to get it right rather more often than did my expert sports companion.
I’ve always found lecturing to be the really fun side of the job. To be invited to stand up and speak about this subject that I love, passing on my knowledge to an eager audience – life really doesn’t get much better! Such wonderful sights I’ve seen through the lecturing, too, from the force of nature that is the human tide pouring into the Tokyo metro, to a full-grown cheetah stretched like a kitten while I scratch its belly, to standing on a balcony looking down on eagles flying far below my feet. Yes, definitely the fun side of the job.
If asked to define what distinguishes my approach to astrology, I would say it is the emphasis on plugging in the brain. We must engage critically with the texts from which we learn, not taking them at face value, accepting what is written simply because it is written. Our astrological methods must make logical sense. It’s like wiring an electrical socket: if the wires are not in the right place, nothing happens when you flick the switch. So my focus in teaching is on how to get that wiring right so when you flick the switch the light comes on. I have no interest in teaching a list of excuses for why that light doesn’t work.
John lives in Poland with his wife, an Old English Sheepdog and a floating population of cats.
Birth: May 16th 1955, 00.40 BST, London.