Probably the most complete book on the "fixed stars" is Vivian E. Robson's The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology. In his Preface, dated July 5, 1923, Robson mentions his indebtedness to a book by Alvidas (whose work, The Fixed Stars, is also now available) and to a quite fascinating large volume by Richard Hinckley Allen, Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, first published in New York in 1899 and reprinted in 1936.
This last-mentioned book does not deal with traditional astrological interpretations, but instead studies the sources and many variations of the names of the stars, and their mythological associations and equivalents in non-Western cultures — especially Hindu and Chinese. The majority of the names actually came to Medieval Europe from the Arab astrologers; but the term "Arab" is probably misleading, for it may refer to people who lived in the regions where once Babylon flourished but had very little Arab blood. If one believes Arthur Toynbee's idea that Arabic culture mainly revived the once arrested "Syriac civilization," the Arab astrologers therefore inherited, if not literally, then psychically, the concern for the stars which, even since the days of Ancient Greece, have been associated with Chaldea. It may be that one would find more profit in studying this book and the mythic association of ideas implied in the stars' names, than in relying upon the characterization of a star's influence in terms of the nature of one or two planets to which the star is supposed to be related; for such an assumed relationship would connect two sets of entities which operate at two different levels (or dimensions) of existence. By making use of such "correspondences," one may miss what is really essential in the characterization.
Robson writes: "the fixed stars give strength and energy to the planets and modify their effects, but at the same time the nature of the planet exercises a strong controlling influence upon the result." He also asserts that "the influence of the fixed stars differ from that of the planets in being much more dramatic, sudden and violent . . . producing tremendous effects for short periods, and, after raising the natives to a great height, dropping them suddenly and bringing a series of dramatic and unexpected disasters. . . . It may be taken as a fairly well established rule that the stars do not operate alone, except perhaps in those cases where they are situated on angles, and therefore their chief effect is transmitted by the planets. They seem to form an underlying basis upon which the horoscope is built, and if a planet falls upon a star, its effect is greatly magnified, giving it a prominence in the life that is quite unwarranted by its mere position and aspect in the map." [pp. 92-93.] Ptolemy gave no rule for the determination of a star's nature in terms of one or two planets. If two planets are mentioned, the first one "is considered to represent the chief influence of the star. The second one denotes a kind of modifying influence."
Robson lists and studies one hundred and ten stars, listing them by their celestial longitude, and therefore by their position in the tropical zodiac. These positions gradually change because of the movement called the precession of the equinoxes, at the average rate of about 1 degree of longitude in seventy-two years. Here follows the names and assumed natures of some of the stars most often mentioned by modern astronomers. The positions of these stars are according to The Astrological Annual Reference Book (Symbols and Signs, Calif.) and are for the year 1972.
SIRIUS (Cancer 13°43' — 39°36' south latitude) This most brilliant of the stars is said to be of the nature of Jupiter and Mars. It is the Dog Star (constellation Canis Majoris) and it is assumed to predispose to dog bites, but otherwise to give Jupiterian honors, fame, wealth. According to Alice Bailey's Esoteric Astrology, Sirius has a most important relationship to our Sun of which it is, in a cosmic sense, the Higher Self. This may be the reason why when the Sun is conjunct Sirius in longitude, it sometimes bestows great power. This is the case in the United States' chart for July 4, 1776. Sirius has been called by H. P. Blavatsky (in The Secret Doctrine) "The Great Instructor of Mankind," and related to Mercury and Buddha or wisdom.
ALDEBARAN (Gemini 9°25' — 5°29' south latitude) A star of first magnitude, the left eye of the celestial Bull; for the ancient Persians, one of the four Watchers of the Heavens, of the nature of Mars according to Ptolemy, giving honor but also associated with violence and accidents.
ANTARES (Sagittarius 9°23' — 4°34' south latitude) A binary star in the heart of the celestial Scorpion; of the nature of Mars and Jupiter, suggesting honor, riches, but also violence, sickness, treachery, etc.
WEGA (Capricorn 14°56' — 61°44' north latitude) of the nature of Venus and Mercury. Though said to give beneficence, refinement, it also is believed to have a number of unpleasant characteristics. In some eleven thousand years it will become our Pole Star.
SPICA (Libra 23°28' — 2°03' south latitude) In the Virgo constellation this star is given a special importance by siderealist astrologers in determining the relationship between the zodiac of signs and that of constellations. It is said to have a benefic character, especially when near the Ascendant or the Mid-Heaven — and to be of the nature of Venus and Mars, or Venus and Jupiter.
RIGEL (Gemini 16°27' — 31°08' south latitude) A star of the nature of Jupiter and Mars, and BETELGEUZE (Gemini 28°23' — 16°02' south latitude) of the nature of Mars and Mercury, are first magnitude stars in Orion. It has long been my belief that Betelgeuze (from Arabic words meaning "the House of the Lord") is in some manner related to the impending Aquarian Age, while Regulus has been presiding over the Piscean Age which started, according to my calculations, soon after it entered the zodiacal sign, Leo. Regulus is passing now through the last degree of Leo, symbolized by the Sphinx, the entrance to the secret path leading to the Great Pyramid and, within it, the Chamber of Initiation. As Regulus leaves the sign, Leo, Betelgeuze will enter the solstitial sign, Cancer. The Aquarian Age will begin.
REGULUS (Leo 29° 17' — 0°28' north latitude) of the nature of Mars and Jupiter. In various cultures this star was called King, Ruler, or Mighty. It represents the heart of the celestial Lion. Being very close to the ecliptic, it is almost covered by the Sun on the 21st of August.
At much higher latitudes, the Lion's Tail star is DENEBOLA, said to be of the nature of Saturn and Venus; and bringing military power, honor, wealth, but also in the end failure or illness.
ALCYONE (Taurus 29°38' — 4°02' north latitude) Though a less brilliant star in the Pleiades, in olden days was believed to be the center of our universe. Occult writers give a great importance to the Pleiades, and relate this group of stars to Sirius, also to the stars of the Great Bear (d. Alice Bailey's Esoteric Astrology p. 679 and elsewhere).
POLARIS (Gemini 28°11' — 66°06' north latitude) Our present Pole Star in the constellation Ursa Minor, is given the nature of Saturn and Venus. Next century, the Earth's polar axis will point to it as exactly as it ever can.
ARCTURUS (Libra 23°51' — 30°46' north latitude) was given the nature of Mars and Jupiter (like Antares) by Ptolemy, but Alvidas believed it should have been Venus and Mercury. It has been connected with Ursa Major, the Big Bear, and is one of the first stars mentioned in very old records.
ALTAIR (Aquarius 1°24' — 29°19' north latitude) The nature of this pale yellow star in the neck of the Eagle constellation has been characterized in different ways by different authors — Mars and Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury, even Uranus.
FOMALHAUT (Pisces 3°29' — 21°08' south latitude) This southern sky star was also once of the four Royal Stars in ancient Persia, the Watcher of the South, marking then the winter solstice. Its nature is given as a combination of Venus and Mercury.
These characterizations, and the statements previously quoted from Vivian Robson, were written at a time when the nature, size, and structure of the Galaxy were not clearly understood. They may be valid at the classical level, and for the classical type of astrology which has been in use for centuries. For the astrologer who operates at that level, and who wishes to satisfy the expectations of clients conditioned by the popular concept of astrology as a predictive science — or at best as a means simply to analyze character — the traditional approach to the "fixed stars" may have some validity. Yet because in most cases, dramatic and spectacular characteristics are attributed to these stars, the knowledge of these characteristics can well increase, either already present fears or unwholesome expectations of great fame and fortune, in people fascinated by this branch of astrology. Thus any tendency toward paranoia may be given more power. The value of knowledge always depends on the ability of the knower at the time to use the data constructively; that is, on his or her ability to assimilate the knowledge and make it serve the purpose of fuller self-actualization. For this reason I repeat that an astrologer's most valuable asset is the capacity to feel intuitively his client's ability significantly and validly to use any information or interpretation being given. This capacity is particularly needed if what is told refers to spectacular events and, even more, if the astrologer suggests the possibility of a character or destiny transcending the range of expectations normal for the client, considering his age and the level of his culture.
The Sun is Also A Star