Wednesday, March 28, 2012

US Astrologer Zolar and British Writer Richard Garnett (aka A.G. Trent)

The History of Astrology by Zolar - a used book (published 1972)I bought last weekend had me curious about the author. This was the first time I'd come across 20th century astrologer Zolar. There's scant information about him online, most of it is contained in a piece by Christina C. Santos at Metamorphosis: Zolar The Men Behind the Crown.

Ms Santos indicates that, over time, there were actually two men behind the name Zolar (the pseudonym = combination of zodiac and solar). Bruce King was the original Zolar, Robert Donald Papon took over the name after King's death in 1976. Ms Santos has detail on Papon in her article.

Apart from the information at Metamorphosis, and Astrotheme between them tell that the original Zolar, Bruce King was born in Chicago on 22 July 1897 at 5.55 AM. He was
A modern tycoon of astrology who used the pseudonym Zolar. Born in Chicago, King became an actor, stockbroker, and eventually part owner of a radio station in Los Angeles. The station had an astrologer named Kobar as general manager, and King was impressed with his financial success. In the same week that Kobar left the station to go to Hollywood, another astrologer demonstrated a dime-in-the-slot horoscope machine to King. The two men went into partnership in the Astrolograph Company, putting the machines in movie theaters.

King later conceived the idea of making horoscopes for chain stores and established a highly successful business. It was then that he took the pseudonym Zolar, derived from the word zodiac with echoes of "Kobar." He later sold approximately 100 million horoscopes and published a variety of popular books on astrology and occultism.
King died January 16, 1976.
Zolar's natal Sun was in the last degree, and last few minutes of Cancer, with Mercury in Leo, and Leo rising; Moon in Taurus. Venus/Neptune/Pluto in Gemini. He matched what I suspect is a classic astrologer's mix: Water for intuition and sensitivity (Cancer); Air for mental acuity (Gemini) and (possibly optional) Fire for dynamism, to ensure he/she is noticed (Leo).

Photograph, right, is from the book's jacket. The author's style, in this work, is a little dry for my own taste, not exactly "a good read", but the book does contain lots of useful information. In his preface the author begins: The objective of this volume is to summarize briefly the historical vicissitudes of astrology - which he does, and in some detail.

Towards the end of the book Zolar mentions one Richard Garnett (1835-1906) an English librarian and man of letters, eminent for his work for the British Museum library, born February 27 1835, his pseudonym was A.G. Trent.

Since he (Garnett) was interested in astrology, he delved considerably into the tremendous stores of astrological books at the Museum and gave out a great number of old charts. He contributed in 1884 to the University Magazine and in 1894 some of his material was collected into a book called The Soul and the Stars. In this book Dr. Garnett stated that the people still need to be taught to regard astrology as a definitely empirical science, because the public has been told for so many years to regard the astrologer as a kind of wizard. He thought the best way to offset this wrong opinion that there was something occult about astrology was to compile statistical data. He himself proceeded to show how he compiled some of this material concerning the planet Mercury and its relationship both to mental ability and to mental instability. In spite of his very sound advice, no statistical group of any consequence was formed in England during his lifetime.
Richard Garnett sounds to have been a man after my own heart! His book is now on my list of stuff "to buy".


Anonymous said...

GP: You must be aware of the work done by Gauquelin and his wife, T. Statistical evidence obtained at a time when computers did not exist, lots of hard work indeed.

I am not surprised that today, with technology for that available, no-one appears interested to underpin scientifically the tenets of astrology. Maybe that Zolar et alia showed the way: easier to make money with astrology than to further the science. (Sic transit gloria mundi - and by mundi I understand this marvelous mechanism up there in the sky).

Twilight said...

Anonymous/Gian Paul ~~

Yes, indeed! And by Lois Rodden at Astrodatabank in compiling so much valuable data.

The fact that there is no clear indication of serious research going on when such sophisticated technology is available only adds fuel to the fire and cynicism of the skeptics.

I'm very sad to say that I suspect you are right in your 2nd sentence of your 2nd paragraph.

If any passing reader can prove us wrong, I'd be overjoyed to see what they have to say on the matter.

stella said...

As a teenager, I had Bruce King's "The Encyclopedia of Ancient and Forbidden Knowledge" - one of those catch-all books with chapters on astrology, numerology, Tarot, etc.

Being young, I was very impressed with it. A friend and I even referred to it as "The Book", lol.

In later years, however, more books became available via the net. I can see now, for instance, that Zolar's crystal gazing chapter was cobbled together from bits of "A Course of Advanced Lessons in Clairvoyance and Occult Powers" by the wonderful C. Alexander (under the pseudonym "Swami Panchadasi", lol) John Melville's "Crystal Gazing and the Wonders of Clairvoyance". Entire passages are lifted almost word-for-word from both books.

It's possible that King was under pressure from the publisher to write an "occult encyclopedia", and his astrology writings may be his own, since that was his area of expertise. But I wouldn't be surprised to see them someplace else, in older books.

As for the current Zolar, I haven't any of his work, but at some point I intend to.

Twilight said...

stella ~ Hi there. Thanks for popping in to comment. :-)

Interesting! He got away with it back then, it seems. No attribution or credit to the original writers, I take it. It wouldn't be so bad if he had footnotes or an introduction indicating that information had come from various sources and naming them.

What a cheek!

It does seem that old Zolar was a bit of a shyster all round!

Adrian said...

Thanks for the post Twilight. Information on the author is almost nonexistent, and what does exist sounds very dubious. Nonetheless, this book is amazing, I would even call it a masterpiece. I'm reading it after a more recent book on the history of astrology, and Zolar's book is much, much better. It's also quite easy to digest, and flows like an actual story, while still being very dense with information. Easily a milestone in one's personal astrological journey.

Twilight said...

Adrian - Hi there! Many thanks for popping in to comment. I'm happy to know the post is of interest to you. :-)