Culture and Cosmos is a peer-reviewed academic journal in the history of astrology and cultural astronomy published by the Sophia Centre Press in partnership with the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, Faculty of Humanitiies and the Performing Arts, at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David

We are currently seeking submissions for future volumes of Culture and Cosmos.

Volume 7, No. 2

Astrological physiognomy from Ptolemy to the present day

Bernard Eccles

Physiognomy, the art of judging character or destiny through physical appearance, has had a long and varied history. Although not strictly astrological in all its forms, it is usually found combined with astrology, numerology, palmistry and other popular forms of fortune-telling; and, like all of these, it is unlikely to become extinct despite being ridiculed by modern science. Equally, attempts to legitimise and modernise it in recent times, usually for the purposes of identifying criminals or other social undesirables, are unlikely to render it wholly respectable either.

For the greater part of its history, between the classical era and the eighteenth century, physiognomy was seen as an integral part of astrology: physical evidence and vindication of the theory of planetary influences.

The aim of this paper is to trace the principal lines of transmission for the lore of planetary physiognomy within the Western astrological tradition, with particular emphasis on the descriptions given for Mars and Saturn. Astrological tradition is highly conservative, with data passed down through centuries of use almost unaltered; but in some cases, as will be shown, the material seems to have been modified and added to in significant ways at certain stages in its history, and to have been influenced or perhaps deliberately rewritten to reflect the prevailing religious or political views of the time.

Contact Us

Dr. Nick Campion,, (University of Wales Trinity Saint David) Chair

For queries about technical issues or the website:
Dr. Frances Clynes, (University of Wales Trinity Saint David)

Join our Facebook Community