AN AVID Bristol-based researcher has spent over two decades collecting thousands of books on astrology.
Philip Graves, an astrological historical and cultural researcher, has set up a library to store more than 7,000 books and around 11,000 issues of over 300 journals on the topic.
Philip, who has lectured on the philosophy of astrology at international conferences, said: “I have long been interested in the investigation of areas which are controversial, unproven and at the frontiers of science.
“I have been piecing together a vast, intricate international historical chronological jigsaw on an area of practice that has yet to be fully understood.”
The digital copywriter, marketer and published author, who speaks French and Swedish fluently, has books dating back to the 16th century and in several languages.
These include ancient Greek, Latin, Arabic, Hebrew and Akkadian – a semitic language which was spoken in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq and Syria).
Astrology has been practised since ancient times but the press features that most people are familiar with – which make general predictions for the 12 signs of the zodiac – were not introduced until the 1930s.
Philip said: “Astrology is not about dividing the population into 12 and making forecasts for each group in terms so general that they could be read as applying to anyone.
“Generally speaking, astrology used to be more focused on the prediction of events until the late 19th century. Since the 1890s, it has been more focused on the analysis of human psychology.”
He said there has been a long-running debate over whether astrology is a science or not.
He said: “Starting at the beginning of the 20th century and continuing through to the 1970s, there was a series of investigations finding support for astrology as a science.
“Research has shown a correlation between planetary positions at birth and documented facts in the lives of individuals, notably their profession.”
Most famously, French statistician Michel Gauquelin identified a significant peak the birth of sports champions while the planet Mars was in a certain position.
But not everybody was convinced by the findings and there emerged an organised sceptical movement which questioned the reliability of such investigations.
Philip, who takes a neutral position, said: “There are many different types of readings, such as the upcoming astrological influences affecting the individual’s life.
“They are all based upon the interpretation of accurate astronomical measurements. The interpretation side, unlike the calculation side, is not an exact science, and will vary according to the astrologer.
“I know many professional astrologers with satisfied clients, but as a rationalist thinker I also respect informed sceptical perspectives on astrology.”
In fact, he has a special collection of books and journals donated by Dr. Geoffrey Dean, a prominent sceptical writer on astrology.
The Australian professor sent hundreds of books to Philip, while downsizing his own library.
Philip said: “I respect him as his arguments are based on the study of published scientific research and not mere ill-informed knee-jerk reactions against astrology.”
Philip first became interested in the topic in 1995, when one of his father’s friends gave him some books covering the basics of astrology.
He said: “It was fascinating but it was clear it had been built on traditions dating back thousands of years. I wanted to get hold of historical material and learn more.”
Philip hopes to open the library up as a research resource, but needs funding to support the venture.
He said: “One day I would like to be in a position to allow supervised visits by members of the public with a sincere interest in studying the material.”
For more information or to support the venture, visit www.astrolearn.com