Thomas Gazis – History of Astrology in Modern Greece (in Brief)

An historical review

The history of modern Greek astrology could be summed up in a single sentence: its commercial aspect has overwhelmingly dominated the cultured one. The astrology of the sun sign forecasts, of the “Mercury retrograde” and of the “where is your Venus?” type, is remarkably popular in today’s Greece. On the other hand, the cultured astrology seems to have little appeal to the Greek public. The domestic commercial astrologers are dominating the scene, while the foremost astrologers of the international astrology scene (e.g., Robert Hand, Liz Greene, Richard Tarnas, Dane Rudhyar etc.) are names that don’t mean much to the Greek public! None of their books (which are widely read worldwide and are considered reference books to all astrologers) has been translated in Greek. You see, there is no demand…

I believe that the above introduction was necessary, so that the public (especially the Greek) realizes the kind of astrology that we will present here. Because ultimately, the history of Greek Astrology is not written by the fleeting astrologers of the sun sign predictions and the morning TV shows but by the cultured ones, those who are doing serious research, who are publishing authentic and meaningful articles and books! These are the Astrologers who are honoring and elevating Astrology in Greece and to them we will be referring to, from now on!

Despite its current penury, astrology in Greece has had a particularly rich and glorious past! You see, the roots of the sophisticated horoscopic astrology that we practice today can be traced in Hellenistic Alexandria (in Egypt). It was in that wondrous “cosmopolis” that the so-called “horoscopic astrology” seems to have taken shape, some 2200 years ago. The leading astrologers of late antiquity (Ptolemy, Dorotheus, Valens, etc.) were Greek-speaking. Thereafter, the torch was passed to Byzantium, which has also produced world-leading (although largely unknown) astrologers, such as Rhetorius, Eutocius, Stephanus the Philosopher, Psellus, Gregoras, Abramius, etc.

With such a huge heritage and history, one might wonder why the modern Greek astrology is not among the world’s leading ones! The main reason is that there was alright a great blossoming of astrology in the Hellenistic / Byzantine world, but this blossoming was followed by a long dark period, which lasted for almost 400 years! You see, in 1453 the cosmopolitan city of Constantinople was militarily conquered by the Ottoman Turks. For about 4 centuries Greece and the Greek world remained under the rule of the Ottomans, who were more concerned with their military and political domination rather than spirituality. Under the yoke of the Ottoman rule, the study of astrology became an unnecessary luxury. Moreover, Greece was cut off from the rest of the Western Europe, during the Ottoman occupation, and thus experienced neither the Renaissance nor the Enlightenment – a fact that ultimately led the country to an overall spiritual decline.

There are some reports of astrologers (usually of Arab descent) being active within the Ottoman Empire, but apparently those astrologers were primarily in the service of the Sultan. Astrology does not seem to have been much practiced in Greece during the 400 years of the Ottoman occupation (personally, I have found no relative evidence). So, by the time the Greeks began to liberate themselves from the Turks (in 1821) astrology had long been forgotten in their country.

Things did not change much in the next 100 years either, as the fragile state of (modern) Greece was coming of age. The poverty of its people, their exhausting struggle for survival, the lack of relevant books and institutions were not propitious to our celestial art. Thus, until the beginning of the 20th century astrology remained relatively unknown in this niche of the Mediterranean. I was personally dumbfounded when I discovered by chance a copy of a major Greek newspaper from the early 1930’s, which had a column on astrology, describing it as: “a magical art practiced by the natives of Africa”!

 The revival of astrology in modern Greece

The first stone in the revival of astrology in Greece seems to have been laid in 1936, when the Greek engineer (educated in Germany) and esoterist Peter Grabinger wrote a book entitled «Πρακτικό εγχειρίδιο Αστρολογίας» (“Practical Manual of Astrology”). That was an excellent book, that planted the first astrological seeds in the interwar Greek society. It was well received within the esoteric circles, but it remained relatively unknown to the general public. Therefore, it did not contribute much to the dissemination of astrology in Greece (in recent years, a new interest arose for it and the book was reprinted).

We could say that the revival of astrology in Greece has mainly been a woman’s affair. For example, the oldest Greek magazine I have come across, with astrological predictions, is the women’s magazine “Gynaika” (“Woman”)! As early as 1950, “Gynaika” was hosting astrological predictions for each of the 12 signs of the zodiac (dividing each sign into its 3 decans and making separate predictions for each one of them). And soon after “Gynaika”,almost all Greek magazines and newspapers started publishing sun sign predictions! Thus, we somehow owe the first mass dissemination of astrology in modern Greece to the magazines and newspapers of the 1950’s (the internet was still many decades away in the future!)

However, the true renaissance of astrology in Greece occurred in the 1960s and a woman was responsible for it. We are talking here about the “matriarch” of modern Greek astrology, the legendary Maria Metallinou(1928 – 1974)! In her youth, Metallinou had moved to England in order to study architectural engineering. Astrology was already widespread then in the Old Albion. And it doesn’t surprise us the fact that Metallinou (being an Aquarius) seems to have been more interested in astrology than in architecture. So, she started attending the famous “Faculty of Astrological Studies” (and by her own admission, she had as her tutor the legendary Charles Carter!)

In those five years that Metallinou spent in England she acquired considerable astrological knowledge! Thus, when she returned home, she brought with her all that wealth of knowledge to the astrologically penurious Greece! Furthermore, she brought back home the vision of a Greek astrological magazine, like the ones she was reading in England. And finally, thanks to her stubbornness and her tireless efforts, she managed to publish in 1969 the first ever astrological magazine in the history of modern Greece: the “Oroskopio”(“Horoscope”)! There was at last a purely astrological magazine in that country, addressed to the average individual! Metallinou was also the first astrologer to appear on national television, introducing astrology to a rather perplexed Greek public. So, she played a key role in the dissemination of astrology in modern Greece. Unfortunately, she passed away prematurely in 1974.

Contradictory as it might sound, an astronomer contributed much to the development of Greek astrology, in that period. We are talking here about Constantine Chasapes (one of the leading 20th century astronomers in Greece). The extent of his contribution was personally narrated to me by Theodora Dakou (who was at the time Metallinou’s assistant). You see, in those years they had no way of calculating the positions of the planets in the signs. Personal computers did not exist, of course, and the quite popular Michelsen “ephemerides” had not yet been published. The only privileged people possessing detailed “catalogues” of the zodiacal positions of the planets were the astronomers. And by a magical “synchronicity”, the director of the Athens Observatory back then was Constantine Chasapes! Apparently, Dr. Chasapes (1914 -1972) was an avid lover of astrology and assisted Metallinou a lot in her astrological calculations – and probably in her interpretations too!

You only need to read a single paragraph from the Chasapes’ excellent book «Σύγχρονοςεκλαϊκευμένη αστρονομία» (“Modern popularized Astronomy”) to understand how much astrology meant to him. On page 112 of that book, he writes (running the risk to be “excommunicated” by the entire scientific community):

“All these phenomena are bringing to mind the mother of Astronomy, Astrology and its teachings. For she argued in a rather apocryphal manner that everything here on Earth is subject to the influence of the surrounding Universe, while the various phenomena of human life are linked to the planets, to the Moon, to the Sun. The orthodox sciences have not proven yet this. Astronomy though, with its latest findings, seems to be justifying a little bit its mystical mother…”.

Soon after Maria Metallinou’s untimed death, her assistant Theodora Dakou took the reins of astrology in Greece. She founded in 1975 the historic astrology magazine “Ouranos” (its title is conveying a double meaning in Greek: either “Sky” or “Uranus”), which was largely based on its subscribers (Dakou was providing free horoscope interpretations to every single subscriber of the magazine). Undoubtedly, “Ouranos” was a higher quality magazine than “Oroskopio”. It was publishing quality, innovative astrological articles (many Dane Rudhyar’s articles and excerpts translated in Greek, a standard 8 pages insert copied from the Michael Meyer’s book “A handbook for the Humanistic astrologer”, astronomy for astrologers, medical and psychological astrology articles, etc.) “Ouranos” continued to be published until 1982. It is considered the best Greek astrological magazine ever!

Theodora Dakou was active on the international astrological scene too. Thus, we meet her at the major French astrological conference that took place in 1980 in Nice, France. At that conference – and in the presence of predominately French and Italian astrologers – the idea of creating a pan-Mediterranean astrological “body” was born, named “F.I.M.A.” (“Fédération Internationale Méditerranéenne d’ Astrologie”). Under the auspices of “F.I.M.A.”, Dakou organized in 1982 in Athens a pan-Mediterranean astrology conference, with the participation of Jacques Halbronn, Fernanda Nosenzo and Georges Dupeyron, among others. This was essentially the first international astrological conference ever organized in modern Greece. But we don’t have traces of any other activity after it and apparently “F.I.M.A.” was disbanded shortly afterwards.

Dakou has written some quality books, which are inspired mainly by the principles of “humanistic astrology”: «Βασικά στοιχεία για την τέχνη της Αστρολογίας» (“The Basics of the Art of Astrology”), «Η μεγάλη σύνοδος του 2000» (“The Great conjunction of 2000)”, «Οι 360 μοίρες του ζωδιακού» (“The 360 degrees of the zodiac”), «Χείρωνας οΕυαγγελιστής της Νέας Εποχής» (“Chiron the Evangelist of the New Age”), «Στην Εποχήτου Υδροχόου» (“In the Age of Aquarius”) etc. She also opened an astrology school, collaborating with names such as Kalliopi Moundrou. Many of the celebrity astrologers that were about to dominate commercially the Greek astrological scene, in the late 20th – early 21st century, came out from her school.

Somewhere along this line, the Metallinou – Dakou meteoric trajectory seems to have fallen into a vacuum. You see, none of the collaborators or students of these grand ladies of Greek astrology carried on their pioneering work. Almost all of them succumbed to the siren calls of easy money and fame.

 

Another lady worth mentioning from that period is Yiota Kalogera (a former radio operator in merchant navy). She founded an astrology school downtown Athens, which was attended by a multitude of students. In 1985 she published the magazine «Πλανήτες και Ζώδια» (“Planets and Zodiacal Signs”). She published more than 10 books and booklets, such as «Οι Πλανητικές Διελεύσεις» (“The Planetary Transits”), «Η επιρροή των Όψεων» (“The Influence of the Aspects”), «Καρμικό Ωροσκόπιο» (“The Karmic Horoscope”), «ΚαρμικήΑστρολογία» (“Karmic Astrology”) and the four volumes series: Οι Προφητείες τουΣύμπαντος Κόσμου (“The Prophecies of the Universal World”). Her books are interspersed with esoteric references.

 

At about that time – or a little later on – an astrologer of academic level began emerging on: Christos Paizes. Paizes had studied a broad range of topics and went on to become a Doctor of Philosophy, at the University of Athens! But ultimately, astrology got the best of him. He was opting for a scientific astrology, being at the same time well versed in esoteric and kabbalistic astrology. He soon began working as a consulting astrologer – teaching at the same time at his own “homemade” school. A prolific writer, he wrote over 60 astrology booklets and books, including: «Η Δομοαξονική Ερμηνεία των Όψεων» (“An Axial-structured Interpretation of the Aspects”), «Ηλιακή και Σεληνιακή Επιστροφή» (“Solar and Lunar Return”), «Εισαγωγή Στην Τέχνη Της Αστρολογίας» (“Introduction to the Art of Astrology”), «Αστρολογία και Κοσμοβιολογία» (“Astrology and Cosmobiology”), «Καρμικήκαι Δραγώνιος Αστρολογία» (“Karmic and Draconic Astrology”), «Θέματα αρχαίαςΕλληνικής αστρολογίας» (“Topics in Ancient Greek Astrology”), «Εσωτερική Αστρολογία»(“Esoteric Astrology”) etc. He collaborated with the magazines «Αστρολόγος» (“Astrologer”)and «Ζωή και ζώδια» (“Life and the Zodiac Signs”). Ηis articles were the best published in those “pop” astrology magazines. He was supported by various environments, and he received many honors and accolades from the Greek public. He unexpectedly passed away in 2015.

 

We have fully moved into the 80’s, by now! Greece was living then an unprecedented period of economic “boom”. An economic boom that soon spurred a publishing one! New magazines and newspapers were appearing like mushrooms on the newsstands. A lot of them devoting their centerfolds to astrological predictions, to the “Venus in the 12 signs” genre etc. A turning point came in 1989, when the first private TV channels went on air. The “morning shows” of these channels were featuring “astrologers” (mainly ladies) who were presenting to the public astrological predictions for each sign, “pop” astrology topics etc. It was out of these “morning TV shows” that the first “celebrity astrologers” emerged in Greece!

In pace with these events, a number of “pop” astrology magazines appeared on the newsstands. They were aimed to cover the “needs” of the new “market” that the TV astrologers had opened up (in fact, the same TV celebrity astrologers were writing for those magazines as well – mainly Sun sign predictions and other palatable astrology articles). These luxurious magazines were very much in vogue in the 90’s and 00’s (selling at times hundreds of thousands of copies per month – a huge number to Greek standards)! Still, they were promoting a rather superficial kind of astrology – while at least half of their pages were actually advertisements of telephone line astrology services! With the advent though of the 2010’s (where one could find on the internet any astrological topic that interested him/her) these magazines ceased to play a leading role and most of them went out of publication.

In hindsight, the role that the various media played in the 90’s and 00’s (magazines and television, in particular) was positive, up to a certain point. The media brought astrology “en masse” to every single corner of Greece. People who had never heard anything about it were suddenly interested in it, seeking more information on their sun sign, their Ascendant, etc. The negative aspect of it is that the access to the media was monopolized by the very people that were blatantly commercializing astrology, promoting its lighter and more lucrative version.

Unfortunately, the truly best Greek astrologers, those with erudition and culture, were not granted access to the media. Thus, quality Astrology was not promoted – and ultimately remained marginalized in Greece. For decades now, the public is regurgitating the “pop” kind of astrology (weekly, monthly predictions, Mercury retrograde, etc.) without going any deeper than that. They seem to be quite unaware of the fact that underneath this over-commercialized “peel” an extremely rich and delicious “fruit” is hiding!

But we shouldn’t blame the ordinary people for that. If they are not getting to the “fruit” of astrology it is because the lucrative astrologers are standing in their way. Astrologers who are either unaware themselves (due to their own lack of education) of how rich the “fruit” of astrology is, or who deliberately suppress that “fruit” – so that the public focuses exclusively on the “pop” astrology they are offering it.

As a result of all this, the Cultured Astrology became somehow an “exotic genre” in Greece – while those who practiced it remained generally cut off from the larger astrological public. This particular situation has created conditions of intellectual “sterility” and acted as a major impediment to the progress of astrology in Greece.

Astrologers of the highest caliber have been deliberately “de-activated” in modern Greece and driven into obscurity! We are talking here of excellent thinkers, who are dealing with the “nut” of Astrology (erudite and visionary men/women, doing advanced research and producing enlightened astrological works). And still, these people are treated as a sort of “miasma” by the astrological “establishment” of my country. Not only they are not recognized and honored by the public, but they have been turned into marginalized and “picturesque”figures, instead! Objectively though, these are the very best Greek Astrologers and – paying them the tribute they deserve – they are the ones that will be presented here!

 

The best Greek Astrologers are unknown to the public!

Not very many Greeks are aware of the fact that John Symeonoglou is one of the best ever modern Greek Astrologers (and still is, thanks to the legacy he left us). Symeonoglou studied mathematics and physics and was a musician too. In his pioneering work, he combined Astrology with “Systemics” (a branch of Cybernetics), and thus proposed a new approach to our celestial art, the so called “Systemic Astrology”. He brought out the true principles and forces that are lying behind Astrology, providing new, solid foundations for its study and application. He studied extensively the Lunar Nodes and added brand new dimensions to their approach and interpretation. Symeonoglou wrote two insightful books: «Καιροί και εποχές του αοράτουαστρολογία»(“The times and seasons of the invisible- astrology“) and «Η άλλη αστρολογία! Τα ιστορικά και τα φιλοσοφικά της αστρολογίας» (“Beyond the astrology you know. The history and philosophy of Astrology“). He was about to publish a third monumental book, but he passed away without completing it. Although he was an advocate of the “scientific” astrology, he drew a lot of material and inspiration from the so-called secret doctrines and the esoterism – and especially from the Orphic and Pythagorean teachings. He undoubtedly honored Greek astrology. But the people who control astrology in Greece did not promote him. They rather kept him marginalized and Symeonoglou, embittered by it, passed away in 2019.

 

Another leading Greek Astrologer – also unknown to the astrological public – is Nikolaos Kampanes. His high quality, authentic work is somehow “obliging” us to include him among the very best Greek Astrologers! More than a simple “star interpreter” Kampanes is a philosopher-astrologer (not by chance, his Sun is in Sagittarius). He has studied (quite systematically and in depth) philosophy, astrology, metaphysics, Pythagorean numerology, the symbolism of sacred texts, esoterism and Yoga. All in all, Kampanes is treating our celestial art as a “sacred ministry”. Two of his major books are: «Στοιχείωσις Αστρολογική» (“Elements of Astrology”) και «Η Αστρολογίαυπό το Φως της Επιστήμης» (“Astrology in the Light of Science”). In addition, he has written a number of quality astrology articles. Among his other works: «Η Μεταφυσική των Αριθμών» (“The Metaphysics of Numbers”), «Η Μεταφυσική Προέλευση των Ασθενειών και οι Θεραπευτικές Ιδιότητεςτων Ψαλμών του Δαβίδ» (“The Metaphysical Origin of the Diseases and the Healing Properties of the Psalms of David”), «Μυστικιστική Σχολή» (“The Mystical School”), «Πορτραίτα Φιλοσόφων και Μεταφυσικές Υποτυπώσεις» (“Portraits of Philosophers and Metaphysical Patterns”), «Πραγματεία περί Κακού» (“Treatise on Evil”), «Περίεναντιώσεως Πλάτωνος και Αριστοτέλους Αποκατάστασις» (“Restituting the Opposition of Plato and Aristotle”).

 

Constantine Stefanou is another premier Greek astrologer that – quite unsurprisingly – the Greek public is uninformed of. He studied Political Sciences and Law but, in the end, Astrology turned out to be his real passion. His approach to our celestial art is original and innovative (not coincidentally, his Sun is in Aries). He has done extensive research on the asteroids and on the so-called “harmonics” (undoubtedly, he is one of the world’s experts in these fields)! Stefanou has opened up some new perspectives regarding the “quantum” dimension of Astrology (drawing inspiration both from modern physics and from the esoteric teachings). His pioneering research ultimately led him to develop his unique theory on the “wave structure of astrology”! His writings are interspersed with some very pertinent literary and philosophical references, which are ultimately revealing Stefanou’s erudition!

 

The next personality we will discuss here is not an astrologer but has contributed significantly to Greek astrology. I am talking about the renown academic Maro Papathanasiou (who – by another wondrous “synchronicity” – was a student of Constantine Chasapes, the open-minded astronomer we mentioned before)! Papathanasiou is a professor of mathematics at the “Kapodistrian” National Greek University, holding the chair of History of Science! This particular chair has provided her with the opportunity to freely conduct studies on traditional astrology, without being “stigmatized” for it (astrology is considered the “forerunner” of various current scientific disciplines, such as astronomy)!

Her works have been translated into many languages. She wrote the following books and booklets of astrological interest: «Κοσμογονικαί και κοσμολογικαί αντιλήψεις εις τηνΕλλάδα κατά την Βχιλιετηρίδα π.Χ (“Cosmological and Cosmogonic beliefs in Greece during the second millennium B.C.”  – she is claiming in this book that the Orphics had developed astrology long before the Babylonians). «Στέφανος ο Αλεξανδρινός: έναςδιάσημος Βυζαντινός λόγιος, αλχημιστής και αστρολόγος» (“Stephen of Alexandria: a famous Byzantine scholar, alchemist and astrologer”), «Ιατρομαθηματικά (ιατρικήαστρολογία) στην ύστερη αρχαιότητα και στο Βυζάντιο» (“Iatromathematics (medical astrology) in late antiquity and Byzantium”), «Η ιστορία του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου: Αστρονομία, Αστρολογία και Παράδοση» (“The history of Alexander the Great: Astronomy, Astrology and Tradition”), «Η αστρονομική (αστρολογική) επεξήγηση του ανάγλυφουτου Φάνη της Μοδένας» (“The astronomical (astrological) explanation of the relief of Phanes of Modena”). She has also translated wonderfully in Greek the Peter Marshall’s book “World Astrology”.

 

Another prominent figure in modern Greek Astrology is Despina Giannakopoulou. She has contributed significantly, in many ways (and without putting herself under the spotlight), to the dissemination of quality Astrology in Greece! Her contribution is unparalleled, especially regarding the Hellenistic and traditional astrology. She has written four books on the subject, which constitute rich resources for those Greeks who wish to delve into the wisdom of their ancestors: «Παραδοσιακή αστρολογία στη σύγχρονη εποχή», (“Traditional Astrology in Modern Times”), «Ωριαία Αστρολογία τα χαμένα κλειδιά» (“Horary Astrology, the lost keys”), «Αστρολογική ωδή Δωρόθεου Σιδώνιου» (“The Astrological Ode of Dorotheos from Sidon”), «Τα μυστικά της Ωριαίας Αστρολογίας» (“The Secrets of Horary Astrology”).

That was, more or less, the history of the truly best astrologers of my country. Still, if we want to evaluate the overall presence of modern Greece within the international astrological scene, we have to admit that it is rather limited. After the historic conference of 1982, Greece had to wait almost another 20 years, to come again to the international spotlight. The Astrologers Thomas Gazis and Maro Ioannidou organized in 2000 and in 2021 two International Astrology Conferences in the Greek island of Mykonos (backed up financially by a Greek friend of Astrology): the “Astromykonos 2000” (with the legendary Robert Hand as main speaker) and the “Astromykonos 2001” (with Noel Tyl and Elizabeth Teissier as the main speakers).

Gazis and Ioannidou kickstarted as well (along with the Spanish astrologer Ernesto Cordero) the foundation of “F.A.E.S.” (Federation of Astrologers of Southern Europe), an initiative that was supported by many Southern European Astrologers. Thomas Gazis has written two Astrology books, articles in leading international Astrology magazines (“American Astrology”, “Horoscope Guide” among others) and has lectured at many Astrology conferences, almost all over Europe. He was also invited (both as a main and as a “backup” speaker) to the prestigious “UAC” American Astrology Conferences in New Orleans and Chicago.

 

Regarding the relatively younger generations of Greek astrologers, there are some that have apparently done some work. Their overall contribution though has to be assessed by a future history of modern Greek astrology. What I would like to stress here is the fact that there is not yet an official association of Astrologers in Greece. There have been some attempts, but they lacked sincere intentions (as one can understand in retrospect). National astrological “entities” have been established all over the world, decades ago. These “entities” have regulated several issues and controlled much of the astrologers’ arbitrariness. They are promoting the worthy astrologers and contributing to the progress of astrology in their country. In Greece though there isn’t still (in 2021) such a national astrological “entity”! I leave it to your own judgement as to why the well-known Greek astrologers do not wish to create such a national “entity” (if they wished it, they would have already created it – as evidenced e.g., by the fact that the very same astrologers have created along the way some astrology “clubs” of rather private nature).

Concluding this article, I would like to stress the fact that I had quite a hard time collecting its material. I could not find any relative reference on the internet – not even on Maria Metallinou, who is considered the very “founder” of modern Greek astrology! Apparently, no Greek astrologer (or “club”) has ever made the slightest tribute to Metallinou, ever since the internet was invented! It does not reflect well on the newer generations of astrologers, when they are not commemorating and honoring the worthy astrologers of the past – those who have paved the way that they are currently stepping on!

 

BIO

Thomas Gazis is a Greek astrologer, author and international speaker. He has given lectures in many European countries and written articles for “American Astrology”, “Horoscope Guide”, “The Astrological Journal”, “ISAR International Astrologer”, etc. He has also authored two astrology books, in Greek. In 2000 – 2001 he organized (with the support of a good friend of astrology) the two international conferences “Astromykonos” (with the participation of Robert Hand, Noel Tyl and many others). He was invited as a speaker at the “U.A.C. 2012” astrology conference in New Orleans. He currently is the ISAR’s global director for Greece. His email: [email protected]

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