We are very excited to have David Coleman join us in the blog. He is well known in the Franz Bardon community for his generous sharing through his writing and for his exceptional book The 26 Keys: The Magic of the Astral Light. In this interview David answers a variety of questions about Astrology in general, how it relates to Hermetic training as well as giving us insight into his own personal approach.
PAA: We have already given a brief intro and you almost need no introduction as you are well known in this field, but for the newbies could you introduce yourself and your work.
David: Well thank you and others first of all for helping me to become as known as I may be because it could only happen with the help of people like you. It’s very difficult to find enough time to engage with the public and do any kind of promotion. Even so I’m sure there are still plenty of people that don’t even know I exist, but I can confidently state that I do in fact exist 🙂
I was born in London, grew up in the 70s and have always been interested in the general field of the unknown and mysterious. My father encouraged this interest from the earliest possible age and my mother joined me in these interests as an adult, a fact for which I count myself extremely lucky as over the years I have seen others have had great difficulty in even admitting their interest in these fields, let alone their experiences. In my youth I was also very interested in the arts and had a career in the arts until my early 20s, but at that point I abruptly left, partly for family reasons but also because I felt something else calling me. I didn’t know what it was at the time and it took some courage to leave my friends and everything I had worked for up until that point, but I only had to wait a couple of years before I found astrology through my mother, who handed me Jeff Mayos book ‘How to Do Astrology’ to pass the time while looking for employment, which is where my new career path began. In the 90s I also came across the works of Franz Bardon and set up my first business, White Dog Horoscopes, which later became Astral Visions when I moved to Berlin at the turn of the millennium. I have worked to help others through both astrology and magic for over 30 years now. The bulk of my work is in writing and is free to all but I have also met with many hundreds of people for personal consultations and for 20 years I also wrote astrological interpretations of people’s birth charts. I no longer do this because the documents I was producing expanded to over 4-500 pages in length, a task that would take me a year or 2 to complete. It simply became impossible to take on board. So now I am focused on face-to-face meetings with people and my online journal/blog, Journeys in the Astral Light, where I take deep dives every month into topics related to both magic and astrology. This written output is made possible by generous supporters on Patreon who also receive a monthly astrological forecast. Folks can read about all these services at my website, astralvisions.org.
PAA: The first thing I want to discuss is your book. It is an amazing piece of work. Could you provide us with some more information about the book, its aims, what it presents, and why it is a new approach to Astrology?
David: Thank you that is very kind of you! The 26 Keys is a book I wrote in 2011. It is basically an approach to astrology that has been informed by my magical initiation through Bardon. It is a system of synthetic astrology, by which I mean two things, first that it synthesizes the magical tradition with the astrological one and secondly that its focus on synthesizing our awareness with the astrological energy, interacting and communicating with it. To put it simply the traditional experience of learning about your astrology involves going to an astrologer who is skilled in interpreting the symbols and then exploring it with them. This is still a valid approach but my approach is to additionally provide you with a set of tools, crafted from your birth chart, which enable you to dynamically interact with astrological influences as they happen, in effect learning from them yourself in real time. The advantage of this approach is that it removes you from the position of being a passive observer and places you in a position of being an interactive participant, eventually able to shape the way that astrological influences manifest in your life. In this way it is designed intentionally to be particularly useful for people seeking to use astrology in the course of magical instruction provided by France Bardon, but it also stands by itself as a tool that anyone can use to bring the magic of astrology into their lives. I have seen it used successfully by business people and artists, spiritual seekers and healers, writers and athletes – part of the beauty of astrology is its adaptability to any kind of activity.
PAA: For those not aware of the main aspects of Astrology and the different approaches/origins can you provide some information and show us where 26 Keys fits into this?
David: Those are huge topics so this will just be an overview, and I will refer people to Journeys to learn more about the specifics. The main parts of astrology, at least as far as the Western variety is concerned, are fourfold – the 12 signs, the planets (including the Sun, Moon, asteroids etc.), the 12 houses (which I also call temples) and the aspects (which are the geometric relationships between the different planets in the zodiac, for example the Sun opposite the Moon in the zodiac is an aspect).
It’s important to understand that the 12 signs in Western astrology are not the same thing as the constellations of stars that we see in the sky that share their names. For example the zodiac sign of Leo is not the same thing as the constellation of stars that we call Leo. To differentiate the two we can refer to one as Leo and the other as the Celestial Lion. The 12 signs then are not the stars that we see in the sky but regions of the sky through which the Sun passes every year at the same time and they are connected to the passing of seasons. In the northern hemisphere where this astrology emerged, the first day of Aries is the first day of spring, the first day of Libra is the first day of autumn, the first day of Cancer is the first day of summer, the first day of Capricorn is the first day of winter. Therefore the signs are connected to seasons and the cycle of life on Earth. They are connected to the Earth Zone, the astral garden girdling the Earth, and the signs are symbols representing its major creatures or entities. They are alive in the same way that the seasons are alive and the year is alive and nature is alive.
The planets of our solar system represent dimensions accessible by the awareness of creatures that live upon the Earth. For example, the planet Venus represents the dimension of feeling and emotion, the planet Mercury the dimension of thought and reason or intellect. Every creature has access to the same dimensions of awareness because every creature is born with the same planets in their birth charts, just in different placements and with different emphasis.
The houses or temples are where the planet is located visually in the sky – rising in the east, overhead, setting, etc – and these show where the energies of each planet descend into manifestation as experience, such as our income, our relationships, our ambitions and the aspects between the planets show how the various dimensions of awareness interact within us, for example the access we feel to the emotional realm of Venus might be inhibited by an aspect from Saturn or increased by an aspect from Jupiter. Planets also have affinities with signs that can make them stronger or weaker in overall expression.
These four parts of a birth chart, interacting together, symbolically describe both the inner and outer life of the person, from birth to death. The chart is subjected to change from the ongoing movements of planets in the sky, which form temporary influences that teach and guide the soul throughout its journey in life. This continuous influx of ever changing influences upon the natal chart also describes the life of the magical equilibrium, the path a magician experiences as they adjust the equilibrium to changing life circumstances. Astrology is one of the only tools we have that can do this with such impressive timing accuracy.
This is only Western astrology – India uses an entirely different system with a zodiac that is actually tied to constellations rather than the seasons and Chinese astrology goes with an entirely different zodiac and a system based on lunar cycles. Many ancient cultures also had their own forms of astrology, for example the Mayans. Additionally this is also only modern Western astrology – there have been many changes over the thousands of years it has existed. For much of our history these changes have been shrouded and unknown, but over the last 30 years the first translations into English have been made of astrological texts from the Hellenistic period, when modern natal astrology began, and so we are finally gaining insight on the way natal astrology was originally practiced and its history. The changes are quite drastic given the time involved. This presents modern astrologers with a dilemma, whether to follow the way it was originally practiced in a culture that is now long gone, ignoring modern discoveries about other planets in the solar system, or to instead consider the developments and changes of history to have greater precedent and more applicability to the modern world than the ancient ways. Many astrologers are now considering both the ancient and modern way of looking at charts and comparing them, allowing us to test various systems against one another. Great changes are in progress in modern astrology and it is unclear where these will lead it. What is clear is that the Hellenistic writers were drawing on ancient sources we no longer have, works they say were written by Egyptians, one of which is the fabled Hermes. Astrological research is unable to date when Hermes lived, but it has uncovered reasonable evidence that he was a real historical figure (or perhaps several of them) who invented the system of astrology we have today. However, some sources also state that the Egyptians learned it from the Mesopotamians, and this seems likely to me.
Whatever the case may be it is clear that in the ancient world astrology and magic were intertwined not just at the philosophical level but at the practical one as well. It is clear that we have lost an entire system of magical astrology (probably several), much as we have lost many other things that were taught within the Mystery schools. Astrology and magic took separate paths over the centuries, paths that now make it difficult to recombine them in the original way, however they always maintained their core philosophical connections and shared theory, the law of “as above, so below, as within, so without”. It might be possible eventually to reconstruct the ancient systems of magical astrology, however doing so would require not only the recovery of many volumes of long lost texts (many of which are probably only sand by now) but also the reactivation of many physical sites that were a key part of that system such as Stonehenge and the Pyramids, the ritual places on the ground that hold and transmit the astrological energies. The 26 Keys is my contribution to bringing the astrology of today with all the new discoveries about the solar system and magic back into practical alignment again using a new system based on traditional principles.
PAA: Astrology, is it something that can be taught systematically with measurable results OR is it something that requires some natural gifting in order to get results?
David: Very much the former. It’s amazing actually how quickly someone with no psychic ability or any magical training at all can make accurate predictions and forecasts about the future or the future of other people within a very short period of time studying astrology. It is quite revelatory for people in this respect. I have seen for example some of my friends look into astrology and have their mechanistic, materialistic world view completely obliterated. Astrology should not work according to the scientific paradigms and theories we have, excepting quantum mechanics. The fact that it does work and can be shown to work with very little skill or instruction makes people question their entire reality. It is like seeing a UFO in this respect.
That said, the very best astrologers do have psychic ability or magical training because it is not merely a science and technology but (like magic) also an art, one that involves interpreting symbols into real issues and experiences. Whereas having a technical and intellectual training in astrology quickly allows any student to identify when in time certain kinds of things happen, i.e. to say that big changes happened in your life in year X, it doesn’t enable you to know the specifics of those big changes, only that they are big, they change things, and they happen in year X. It’s also easy to map the recurrence of cycles through time, so that for example you require no psychic ability to identify when the major karmic tests of your life will play out – you just wont be able to interpret much of what those will look like. To get the specifics of how big and what changes, you need the interpretive arts. Venus, example, can represent all kinds of emotions and feelings, and though it is an easy matter to figure out when these arise and become more significant it takes time and experience to be able to interpret what kind of feelings and emotions the chart expresses at different times and how that plays out. This is where the psychic and magical training comes in. However one of the lovely things about astrology is that someone who studies it from the technical point of view, just learning how to do it, will eventually be trained in these interpretive arts through time and experience, mostly as they learn how the symbols play out in their own natal astrology and life as well as those around them. So astrology enables and supports psychic and magical development on its own through its symbols and has done so for many astrologers over the centuries, leading them to greater and greater spiritual wisdom. There is an extremely beautiful relationship between magic and astrology when seen in that context that reveals that at a fundamental level they were never parted. It was only an intellectual divergence on our part.
PAA: If Astrology is something that can be taught how should someone go about approaching this? Books? Courses? Divine Intervention?
David: Ultimately, whatever method works is best for you. I learned it from a book. I’ve written a book to help people learn astrology from their own experience and to help magicians training who want to incorporate astrology. Some people might not like that adventure of empirical learning. Perhaps they prefer to use an online course to develop their knowledge. Really I think people learn from all kinds of sources these days, including Internet videos and online communities, mentors, books, each other, meditation and inspiration, and other ways, and that seems to be common among astrologers too.
PAA: How important is this knowledge of Astrology to a student of Franz Bardon’s work? Is it required? Is knowledge of our own charts enough or should we have the ability to do it ourselves?
David: It’s not a requirement. If it were a requirement, Bardon would have said so. Bardon is clearly conscious of the difference between the magical use of astrology (which he terms synthetic astrology) and the popular use of astrology as a mantic device. The system in The 26 Keys can be used either way. However, even though astrological knowledge is not a requirement I would say it is an invaluable tool with no equal, especially in the early stages before the magical equilibrium but also after that point. Just knowing the content of your chart and having a rudimentary knowledge of what it expresses is a significant help, but being able to understand the principles involved and investigating it for yourself is not only the best way of learning astrology but the hermetic way as well. But it’s a very deep well and it’s up to you as an individual how far down the rabbit hole you will go.
PAA: What does the future have in store from an Astrological perspective? What can you tell us?
David: I have no idea what exactly will transpire which suits me fine but it’s very exciting! That is, assuming we manage to overcome the many challenges facing us in the world today, many of which threaten everything in the future. I have some speculations about the future of astrology which I have written about in a previous Journey (https://astralvisions.wordpress.com/2021/07/31/21st-century-astrology-and-beyond/), but it boils down to an explosion of astronomical discovery about our solar system combined with excavation of the past and history of astrology which I mentioned earlier alongside major advances in communications and technology and the way that information will be displayed graphically in the future (hologram charts and 3D displays rather than flat charts, augmented reality charts and V.R., etc.). The astrological community is going through a series of transformations as a result of all of this happening at the same time. It is a hugely exciting time to get involved, the early stages of a modern Renaissance in the field, I feel.
PAA: Lastly are there any personal projects that you would like to talk about? What have you been working on?
David: I recently opened my website at astralvisions.org and publish a new Journey at the end of each month on a topic related to magic and astrology at my WordPress site, Journeys in the Astral Light . I will continue monthly posts for the foreseeable future and with the help of others am currently also in the process of collecting some of the past articles and updating them into digital and print editions for people to own. The site will always be free to read. I am working quietly on developing online classes and will notify people through Journeys about those in the future. I am also working on two new books, but those have to remain a bit of a secret for now. I’m always open to meet with people online to discuss, offer guidance and teach, and in my spare time I like to engage with the younger generation of people (late teens and early 20s) interested in learning about astrology as I find this very satisfying to do both personally and intellectually. I also like painting. For me, with most of my life invested in the world of words one way or another, painting is an escape to a world where they have no place.
PAA: Is there anything else you would like to mention? If people would like to follow what you do, is the Astral Visions website the place to go?
David: Astral Visions is where people should go to learn about my services and to book some time with me. It will evolve as time goes by, for example as new books are published they will become available there. Journeys in the Astral Light is where I engage the public regularly, posting once a month and fielding comments and public questions. Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/astrallight) is the funding for Journeys and people who join me there also get a monthly post where I muse about current events and post an astrological calendar for the upcoming month, like a weather forecast. Patrons also get their 26 keys calculated for them on request. I plan to offer more benefits to Patrons in the future as thanks for all they have made possible. The public archive at Journeys is approaching 1,000,000 words now, thanks to them.
Aside from this… Yes, there is something I’d like to mention. Everything stands at the brink with us. We are facing catastrophes. It’s easy to lose hope and to feel despair and lose faith in humanity and the future. The challenges can seem so overwhelming that we turn away from them unable to cope. In walking the path of initiation, I have learned that when we turn away from our darkness it only grows stronger, but when we face into it with conviction and courage, with love not only for ourselves but for others, we always find within us hidden resources that kindle themselves into life revealing that we are brighter and more powerful than we ever imagined. We are complex creatures with a complex history and many differences but in our innermost being what unites us all is that we love to love and to be loved. The Facebook page for The 26 Keys is another place where you can interact with me, I post a link to the monthly article there when it is published.
PAA: Thank you very much for your time.