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Volume 1, No. 2
W.B.Yeats: Poet and Astrologer
William Butler Yeats appears to have begun his study of astrology even before he joined the Hermetic Society of the Golden Dawn in 1890. His earliest surviving astrological manuscripts date to 1888 or 1889, when he was in his early twenties; they record planetary elements and symbols in elementary lessons, probably undertaken among Madame Blavatsky’s theosophists. For the 1890s, his manuscripts show more emphasis on readings of tarot cards than on astrological predictions, although the tarot lay-outs are occasionally accompanied by horary charts drawn up for the moment of the reading. Yeats’s use of traditional astrology became much more extensive and precise during the Edwardian years, particularly in 1908, when he was using several different notebooks for astrological calculations. Notebooks survive much better than loose sheets, of course, and another, from 1934, preserves what seem to be the latest surviving horoscopes drawn up by Yeats himself, including his own secondary progressions for the following year; they appear to have been cast in September or October, about the time Virginia Woolf noted Yeats’s conversation about the occult in her diary: ‘He believes entirely in horoscopes. Will never do business with anyone without having their horoscopes.