William Lilly’s Epistle to the Student in Astrology

by Toby Aldren, D.F.Astrol.S.

Today, Saturday 28th March 2020, was to have been our day of celebration in London: our Faculty Open Day. We were to gather together at Fyvie Hall in the University of Westminster to honour our newest Certificate and Diploma holders. We’ll look back at this time — hopefully only a month or two in our lives — and remember these were the days when we were restricted from meeting in person. For now, we look forward to being together again one day soon.

A few years ago when I received my Diploma, not only was I honoured and excited (and yes, relieved!) to have accomplished the feat, I was also surprisingly touched by an additional gesture made by the Faculty to its newest graduates. A printout of William Lilly’s Epistle to the Student in Astrology is included with the diploma. Receiving this document felt like being given a charge from Lilly himself to go forth and be a worthy astrologer. Every year since, at Faculty Open Day, I feel like I am silently renewing my vows as the newest Diploma holders are given Lilly’s words of conduct.

Jackie Chen, Geerte Groen, Stefanie Gutwenger, and Alejo López, as the Faculty’s newest Diploma holders, we were thinking of you today. Please know that we have many cheers of celebration in store for you, and for our ten Certificate recipients, at a time we can meet in person. In the meantime, let’s all take Lilly’s words to heart. Here are some of them:

  • As thou conversest with the heavens, so instruct and form thy mind according to the image of Divinity
  • Learn all the ornaments of virtue, be sufficiently instructed therein
  • Be humane, curtius, familiar to all, easie of access
  • Afflict not the miserable with terror of a harsh judgment*
  • Be civil, sober, covet not an estate
  • Give freely to the poor, with money and judgement
  • Let no worldly wealth procure an erroneous judgement from thee, or such as may dishonour the art
  • Be not extravagent… be faithfull, tenacious, betray no ones secrets
  • Instruct all to live well; be a good example thyself

William Lilly, 1647

*Judgement refers to the interpretation of a chart.