This is a much-needed book on a neglected topic. Decans are a back-of-the-bus astrological dignity that have been ignored for over a millennia. They have made a well-deserved comeback in the past two years.

Part I provides an historical overview of the decans. It covers their origins in ancient Egypt, where they were used for calendrical, religious, and magical purposes. They were integrated into early Hellenic astrology and passed into early traditions in India. Arabic astrologers received the decans in somewhat modified form, and they used the face images for talisman-making. This focus was sustained as the decans transferred into Medieval Europe. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn gave decans a new role as tarot attributions in the late 19th century. Astrologers continued to gloss over them for the most part. With little insight about their origins and historic journey, the decan’s powers and purposes appeared to be a confusing mish-mash.

Part II gives a detailed description of each decan, including its general astrological implications, the condition of the seven planets, and magical considerations. Each decan’s header is illustrated with a symbolic tondo by artist Bob Eames. The information is of use in natal interpretations, and gives guidelines for elections for magical intentions. Much good thought went into these descriptions, and they offer significant points to ponder as well. This section occupies the bulk of the text, from pages 51 to 263.

The Appendices (p 264) present an alchemical analogy to decans and concise guide to magical uses. The Tables of Correspondences are a collated collection of 1,700 years of spirit-deity-angelic attributions, face images, and talismanic properties culled from ancient Greek, Hindu, and Arabic sources, along with notes from Agrippa, Book T, and 777. An index is included. 

This is the motherlode of decan lore! “36 Decans” is a must-have reference text for astrological magicians and will be of great use to classical astrologers. Coppock has written and assembled all the juicy bits, saving everyone else a lot of leg work and research. Thorough practitioners will not bypass the necessary medieval astro-magical texts that offer more in-depth instructions on the katarchic requirements, of course, but this book is a superb supplement that elucidates the often obscure and seemingly contradictory notations in the accumulated lore. Coppock’s coup d’libre is the first definitive book on decans in 2,000 years. Well done!

Very highly recommended.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Author: Austin Coppock
Three Hands Press, 2014, 319 pg.
Limited first edition available as a trade pb $25.00; hardcover with dust jacket $48.50;
deluxe leather-bound hardcover with slipcase $125.00

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