The data collectors

In the age of knowledge it’s impossible to imagine the mind-set of an astrologer working in the 16th-century. Back then critical analysis took a back seat to mystical belief and no attempt was made to sort the facts from the fictions. Evidence-based research was not on the agenda. But, just like today, astrologers needed birth data so Lucas Gauricus compiled Operum Omnium, an important collection of historical data. But don’t get too excited. The chart data, particularly the birth time, is best considered wildly speculative just like the mystical astrology that attempted to make sense of the charts and their owners’ life stories.

Fast forward to Aquarius and in 1911 Alan Leo published 1001 Notable Nativities. It was the best data collection so far, but was marred by a fatal inadequacy – incorrect birth times. So the author explained that most birth times have a plus or minus ten minute margin of error and should be viewed as approximate. And the critical reader asked: ‘How can you get accurate astrological data from an inaccurate birthchart?’

In 1924 The Brotherhood of Light Astrological Research Department was established. Its data collection numbered over 5,800 birth times, but many were rounded off to the nearest hour and half hour, and this lack of precision compromised the research findings.

In 1953 Marc Edmund Jones published Sabian Symbols in Astrology, another collection of 1000 birth data that unfortunately was marred by inaccurate data and birthchart errors. And in 1962 Marion Drew published 101 Hard to Find Horoscopes, but the data was mostly faulty and poorly sourced.

In France during the 1950s Michel Gauquelin had started collecting recorded birth details from parish records and when he published, in the 1970s, large numbers of documented birth times became available. But just because a birth time is documented doesn’t mean it’s precise and most of the recorded birth times were rounded off to the nearest hour or half hour.

Precision astrology requires a precise birth time so most 19th-Century data doesn’t provide much worthwhile astrological information. And the idea that these incorrect birth times and their incorrect birthcharts could be scientifically investigated to provide authentic astrological information was very misguided. It’s unfortunate that Gauquelin’s attempt to scientifically investigate astrology in the 1970s was hopelessly compromised by faulty birth times and unproven astrological theories. But in 1969 a new Uranus cycle promised a solution to astrology’s big problem – inaccurate birth times. By now birth certificates with accurately recorded birth times had been around for 70 years and data collectors were about to set their sights on these precious documents.

In 1976 Katharine Clark, Allan Gilchrist, Janice Mackey and Charles Dominay compiled and published Contemporary Sidereal Horoscopes and the birth data they presented came straight from the birth certificate. The collection set a standard of excellence that had never before existed.

Then, in 1979, something revolutionary occurred. Lois Rodden published Profiles of Women. There were too many errors and wrong charts but the lady who taught us how to gather data, source data, rate data, update data and share data and whose impact on Aquarian Age astrology was simply stunning wrote: ‘It was, in a sense, the book that turned the corner between the naiveté of the early 20th-century about our data and the awareness of the 21st-century astrologer, approaching our data as educated professionals. The astrologer today who speaks, teaches, writes and publishes has the sophistication to demand accurate reporting data and verification of all data sources. Astrologers who cannot verify their data cannot verify their conclusions, and astrologers who do not know the source of their data and who do not state the source of their data limit themselves to the category of amateur.’ Her message was clear. Data has a source – so state it – and then grade the chart’s accuracy according to its source. The result was the development, in 1979, of the Rodden (chart) Rating System.

In 1980 Lois Rodden published Astro-Data 11 and each chart was sourced and given an A, B, C or DD accuracy rating. Later – at the suggestion of Marion March – the AA category was added to separate documented birth certificate data from personal data based on memory. In 1982 Michel and Francoise Gauquelin compiled and published The Gauquelin Book of American Charts and all the data came from birth certificates. In1986 Lois Rodden published Astro Data 111 and in October 1986 she commenced Data News – a bi-monthly newsletter that provided its readers with new astrological data from then until April 2003.

In 1990 Rodden published Astro-Data 1V and Janice Mackey and Jessica Saunders published – straight from the birth certificate – Contemporary American Horoscopes. In April 1992 Rodden published Profiles of Crime and in 1996 a revised, updated edition of Profiles of Women. In the meantime data collecting had gone international. Grazia Bordoni in Italy had published Data Di Nictia and 3000 of the 4000 Italian data came from the birth registration. Caroline Gerard in Scotland was collecting Scottish data – straight from the birth certificate; David Fisher was collecting British data and Luc de Marre was collecting Belgian data. In the US Thelma and Tom Wilson in Chicago, Francis McEvoy in Boston and Steven Przybylowski in Milwaukee kept the birth certificate data flowing. And in 1996 Michael Munkasey published Birth Data Index which sourced the data for 8000 charts.

Now Astro Databank provides a spectacular amount of data that has the highest level of accuracy and accurate birth times make precision astrology possible. For the first time we’re now able to unite the astrological expertise of Elbert Benjamine, the mathematical precision of the astrodynes and the almost-accurate birth times gathered by the data collectors, in an Aquarian Age Astrological Research Project that will provide humanity with the most accurate astrological information ever discovered – a database of new astrological facts that will serve humanity well.

But there’s still a lot of mystical thinking around – old habits die hard. And there’s so much faulty information, so many natural deceptions, so many twists and so many questions and in the 21st-century we just don’t know what the next chapter in the astrology story will be. But, thanks to the data collectors new astrological information will be defined by accurately timed birthcharts, evidenced-based scientific research and documented case histories.

Related articles in: Chapters in Astrology’s History