“The fixed stars kind of have their own royalty and sovereignty. I kind of just see them as not listening to the rules that everyone else has to abide by.” (Mason Merrill, astrologer and astro mage.)
A heliacal rising is when a star or celestial body becomes briefly visible prior to sunrise after a period of invisibility. In Hellenistic astrology, the heliacal rising was associated with prominence and activity.1 Ancient astrologer Manetho explains that heliacal risings are particularly auspicious and powerful: “All the stars rejoice when they are at their rising, just as each is exalted in its own rulerships. Being on the rise, as it were unto their youth, being quite powerful, they accomplish all things for men.”2 Though heliacal risings were important in traditional astrology they were never fully utilized in the astrological magic tradition. Austin Coppock laments the fact that astrological magic ignores heliacal risings, and suggests they be included in the tradition in a recent essay, “A Feast of Starlight.”3 Heliacal risings are grand events, and were important in numerous cultures. In particular, the heliacal risings of fixed stars were seen as incredibly important in ancient cultures. In ancient Egypt, for example, the risings, culminations, and settings of fixed stars had special importance. Ancient Egypt was part of the cultural milieu in which astrological magic was born, and yet the inclusion of elements that focus on fixed stars is largely absent. As Coppock notes, the astrological magic tradition works very little with fixed stars, and ignores heliacal risings.4 In the Picatrix, there are examples of fixed star talismanic creation. The rule is to wait for the Moon to conjoin the degrees of a fixed star at the highest point in the sky. Otherwise, there is very little material on fixed stars in the tradition, and almost a complete lack of mention of heliacal rising rituals. Despite this, a new trend has emerged. In recent times, it has become popular to work with heliacal risings of fixed stars in some circles of the astrological magic community. For many of the astro mages and astrologers who work with heliacal risings, one goal seems to be to set up favorable and intimate relationships with powerful fixed stars. Other astrological magicians work with fixed star heliacal risings to create talismanic materials. Though fixed star heliacal rising rituals are not exactly traditional, there is a lot of traditional material that points to their potential use. Coppock outlines a possible way to include heliacal risings in his essay “A Feast of Starlight,” and briefly examines the near universal importance of fixed stars to various cultures. He seems to suggest their use in a ritual manner, and it is even possible that Coppock and his essay are the originators of the recent fixed star trend. Regardless of its actual antiquity, the use of fixed star heliacal risings in a ritual form is becoming commonplace. Not only are the heliacal risings of a few prominent fixed stars commonly observed nowadays, the heliacal risings of many fixed stars are worked with by a number of people. I would even suggest that one route an astrological magician can take is to focus year-round on the heliacal risings of prominent fixed stars. In addition to elected magical operations and petitions, daily planetary rituals, and rituals that are related to planetary ingresses and aspects, heliacal rising rituals for fixed stars are also becoming part of the common language of astrological magic. In this article, I will briefly explain how heliacal risings of fixed stars can be used in rituals and astrological magic. Some quotes from a short interview with astrologer and astro mage Mason Merrill on heliacal rising rituals is included. Further, for astrological magicians who would like to include heliacal risings for fixed stars in their repertoire or focus on them exclusively, a list of dates for heliacal risings is included. Ryhan Butler of Medieval Astrology Guide recently put together a list of heliacal risings of fixed stars on a webpage from his website and created files for sharing. They can be found here and at the bottom of the article.
There is at least one approach to doing a fixed star heliacal rising ritual. Most heliacal rising rituals will be either for requests or for talisman creation. I will look at six aspects that are relevant for doing heliacal rising rituals. First, the timing is key. The whole point of doing a heliacal rising ritual is to be there at the time that the event occurs, basically that the star goes from being invisible because of its proximity to the Sun to being visible again. The heliacal rising is that exact moment that the star rises from being invisible and makes an appearance on the eastern horizon. The timing of this event is crucial to the ritual. The dates for heliacal risings change very slightly over time, and lists for dates can be found online and with software programs. Second, as Coppock points out in “A Feast of Starlight,” the Moon is very important for fixed star talismans. The Moon’s symbolism is often connected to the starry skies and its only at night time, when the Moon is luminary, that the fixed stars are fully visible. Unfortunately, for a heliacal rising, there isn’t enough time to elect a moment where the Moon will be in a good house and position for a ritual. It is possible to include the Moon in a fixed star ritual though, and the Orphic Hymn to Selene could be added to the ritual. Next, a heliacal rising ritual has many stars to choose from. The Behenian stars are 15 famous high-magnitude stars that have a lot of traditional lore. There are other candidates. One could look to prominent stars located near their ascendant, midheaven, Sun, Moon, Lot of Fortune, or other planets or points. One could also find stars that related to aspects of life that resonated, such as stars that heal, protect, or attack, and stars that endow fame, wealth, or infamy. Fourth, once a star is chosen and the date is known, the astrological magician should prepare hymns and other ritual materials. Some materials are the same as planetary rituals, such as incense, candles, and a makeshift altar space. Because the ritual entails observing the fixed star rise, there has to be preparation for a space that can allow the practitioner to get an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon in the early morning hours. Coppock suggests a multi-cultural approach to the stars, doing one’s own research, possibly writing one’s own hymns, and going over the myths and characteristics of the stars in order to connect to a fixed star. He is influenced by the Picatrix, and the idea of going over the myths and characteristics of a star is nothing new to a practitioner of any kind of esoteric practice. With famous stars, there are stones, plants, and herbs that are associated with them. There are also sigils, names, and mythologies. Either for the creation of a talisman or merely contact, some fixed star rituals have an array of potential materials available to the astrological magician. Another issue is the planning of the ritual. The majority of the ritual can be done prior to the heliacal rising, with a few moments of invocation, talisman creation, or petitions occurring during the moments that the fixed star has just made its appearance in the night sky, before ending the ritual. Another way to do the ritual is to do the majority of it once the star has made its appearance. It should be completed prior to the sun’s rise. The ritual hinges on seeing the star rise, and the astrological magician should have found a location such as a roof, a backyard, or a safe public space so the ritual can be done with the eastern horizon visible. If it’s not possible to get a space like this, most of the ritual can be done in a room or space and then the last part of the ritual can be done outside. The practitioner can even do all of the ritual in a windowless room, call upon the star, and then go outside, and walk on the street and read the special hymn or characteristics and myths of the star there, if need be. Therefore, the six aspects surrounding heliacal rising fixed star rituals include timing, choosing a star, looking to the Moon, making preparations, researching star lore, and doing the ritual in a place where the star is visible.
Working with fixed star heliacal risings is somewhat new to the astrological magic tradition, but there are astrological mages who already have experience with the phenomenon. As mentioned, the Coppock essay subtly suggests working with heliacal risings of fixed stars in a ritual format. And there are a number of astrological magicians who now include fixed star heliacal rising rituals in their practices. In an interview with Mad Sage Astrology, Astro mage Merrill shared the process in detail, as he did a heliacal rising ritual working recently. “Ryhan Butler taught me how to do [heliacal rising ritual] and I would like to credit him. I did a ritual working with Deneb Algedi.”5 Deneb Algedi is a famous Behenian star at 23 degrees in Aquarius. It is associated with prosperity and increases wrath. Merrill discussed the steps for the ritual:
“What I did was prepare ritual materials, chant invocations, and kind of look at the star as it rose in the sky. I had to watch the horizon for [Deneb Algedi] and spot it in the late-night hours. I used software to know the time Deneb Algedi rose, but it gave an approximate rise. Which is pretty useful, but not precise enough. Hence, I had to watch the horizon and spot Deneb Algedi with my eyes. The idea is that you would start the ritual when the star heliacally rises, which is on a certain date for each star. You start well before the sun rises and observe the star as it rises. At that point and before you do the ritual or create a talisman, depending on your purpose. You basically have from when the star rises to when the sun rises, which in some cases could be several hours.”6
Similar to most rituals, a major difference with fixed star heliacal rising rituals is that they are done in the late hours of the night, and they don’t require any kind of astrological election aside from finding the exact date of the heliacal rising itself. The act of visually greeting the fixed star as much as humanly possible and prior to sunrise is also crucial to the ritual. Merrill also shared about the special role that fixed stars have in the cosmic hierarchy. “I think heliacal rises are pretty great, because you kind of get more of the core energy of that star. I think the background astrology is important but it kind of gets overwritten because of the way stars generally work. They kind of get to obfuscate the system. The fixed stars kind of have their own royalty and sovereignty. I kind of just see them as not listening to the rules that everyone else has to abide by.”7 Merrill shared how the process of doing a fixed star heliacal rising ritual relied on visibility and a visual greeting of the star’s re-appearance in the night sky and the special circumstances surrounding fixed stars and their timing in astrological magic.
There are two principal types of heliacal rising rituals for fixed stars. The first one is connecting to and petitioning a star. In this case, the astrological magician has a purpose for engaging in the ritual. The most basic one is to connect to the fixed star. It could be to build a relationship and get to know the fixed star. Other goals one might engage in are to ask for blessings or specific things, especially blessings related to the fixed star’s known attributes. For example, a star that is associated with healing can be asked to heal. Then, there can be very specific requests, and in some cases, one can promise to do certain things for the fixed stars like they would in a devotional ritual. Of course, astrological magicians don’t usually go that far in engaging in reciprocity the way a Hellenic reconstructionist might. Heliacal risings of fixed stars can also be used to create talismanic materials. The same process that is applied to planetary talismans can be applied here. Though the fixed stars, hymns, and natures of the fixed stars differ, the process of creating a talisman doesn’t differ too much. A fixed star talisman is created with different considerations, but a fixed star heliacal rising talisman, once all is said and done, is created in a similar way. During the ritual, the materials are put through suffumigation, and the talisman is ensouled with the fixed star’s spirit. So, there are at least three different ways to use fixed star heliacal risings in an astrological magic setting.
Fixed star heliacal risings are an astral phenomenon that is becoming a new focus for many in the astrological magic community. There are at least three different approaches to using them in rituals. A major key is the timing of the heliacal rising, which depends on the latitude and visibility of the heliacal rising in the sky. The rituals occur in the early morning hours prior to sunrise and can utilize an array of materials, both traditional and reconstructed. The process of performing a heliacal rising ritual follows a few steps. First, it is probably best to choose a fixed star that resonates personally or corresponds with life goals. Possibly, some ritualists just follow the calendar and do rituals for numerous fixed stars, while others deal with only a select few that have a special meaning for them. Either way, the next step is to look at the latitude that one resides at and to observe the dates of the heliacal risings for the chosen fixed stars. After that, one would prepare the materials for the ritual. Using the Picatrix or other sources, one would collect the plant or herbal materials associated with the star. A short prayer and petition should be written.Fixed star heliacal rising rituals are not fully traditional, but there is enough source material that suggests that they can be done in a traditional spirit. Some astrological magicians believe they are advantageous and that including them in one’s repertoire can be rewarding.
Heliacal rising tables can be found on Ryhan Butler’s Medieval Astrology Guide website.
One good online resource is Astrology King’s fixed stars list. The website has information on most of the fixed stars.
Ryhan Butler’s services and shop can be found here.
Mason Merrill’s services and shop can be found here.
1. Chris Brennan, Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune, (Amor Fati Publications, Denver, Colorado, 2017), 202- 203.
2. Manetho, The Apotolesmatika of Manetho, ed. And trans. By Robert Lopilato, PhD diss.(Brown University. Providence, Rhode Island, 1998), 216- 227.
3.Austin Coppock, “A Feast of Starlight: Reflections on Stellar Magic,” in The Celestial Art, Demetra George, et al., (Three Hands Press, June 10, 2018) 11-26.
4. Coppock, “A Feast of Starlight.”
5. Mason Merrill, Interview by Mad Sage Astrology, September 19, 2022, Audio, 2:47, conducted on WhatsApp.
6. Merrill, Interview.
7. Merrill, Interview.
1. Brennan, Chris, Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune, Amor Fati Publications, Denver, Colorado, 2017.
2. Manetho, The Apotolesmatika of Manetho, ed. And trans. By Robert Lopilato, PhD diss. Brown University. Providence, Rhode Island, 1998.
3. Coppock, Austin, “A Feast of Starlight: Reflections on Stellar Magic,” in The Celestial Art, Demetra George, et al., Three Hands Press, June 10, 2018.
5. Merrill, Mason, Interview by Mad Sage Astrology, September 19, 2022, Audio, 2:47, conducted on WhatsApp.
- Numerous colorful stars in the sky. Photo by ESA/Hubble.
- Two men watch the stars in the night sky over the Egyptian desert in remote antiquity. Photo by Midjourney. Prompt: two men in Togas watch a few stars rise over the Egyptian desert at night. Username: @david.k9
- The stars over Death Valley National Park during an Orionid meteor shower. Photo by Brocken Inaglory.
David has studied traditional astrology since 2014. The Bay Area native completed Chris Brennan’s Introduction to Hellenistic Astrology course, and attended courses taught by Austin Coppock, Nina Gryphon, and Ryhan Butler. He is interested in exploring the less well known aspects of astrology, divination, and spirituality.