The Sabian Symbols

 Written by Sabian Expert Lynda Hill

The ancients divided up the sky, just like any other circle, into 360 degrees. They assigned each of the 12 constellations (star signs or zodiac signs) 30 degrees each: 12 times 30 = 360.


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The Sabian Symbols are a set of 360 phrases of words that correspond with each of the 360 degrees of the wheel of the zodiac, from Aries 1 to Pisces 30. Consisting from as little as 2 words (Virgo 2: ‘A Harem’) to as many as 21 words (Taurus 5: ‘A Youthful Widow, Fresh and Soul-Cleansed From Grief, Kneels at an Open Grave to Receive the Secret of Eternal Life), each one of these Symbols holds both a story and a unique energy field of their own. These images hold meaning for those degrees of the signs. Although the Symbols have their foundations in astrology, absolutely no knowledge of astrology is needed to use them.

The Sabian Symbols were given birth in San Diego, California, in 1925 by Marc Edmund Jones, a noted American astrologer and spiritualist and the gifted clairvoyant Elsie Wheeler. Jones was interested to find a set of word images to go with every degree of the zodiac. Elsie Wheeler was an extraordinary clairvoyant confined to a wheelchair for most of her life. Jones chose Elsie Wheeler as his partner in this ‘experiment’ (as M.E. Jones called it) as she had a remarkable ability to “see” messages, images and symbols. She used this talent to help her clients, but was rather weary of the standard questions she received, such as “when will I be rich?” and “when will I meet the love of my life?” She was eager to take part as she believed that this was an opportunity to really contribute something to astrology.



One day in San Diego in 1925 (unfortunately the date was not recorded) not far from the harbor, astrologer Marc Edmund Jones assisted spiritualist-medium Elsie Wheeler into his car. Elsie was afflicted with severe arthritis, making any movement very difficult and most likely painful. Marc’s car made its way from the house on India Avenue where Elsie lived up the sloping hills to Balboa Park. Exactly where in the park they worked is not known. Marc Edmund Jones wrote that they found a place where they could be surrounded by the vibrations of modern American life but would not be disturbed by passers-by. Also, as Elsie was unable to walk, they could not be moved from the car.

Marc Edmund Jones wrote in his book ‘The Sabian Symbols in Astrology’ (first published in 1953), “Miss Elsie Wheeler was very anxious to start… it was necessary to provide uninterrupted hours, with a problem of inevitable fatigue to be taken into account. She had to be carried, no others could be present and conditions in general had to enable her to function in her accustomed manner. Balboa Park in San Diego offered a spot where a driveway was a matter of a very few yards from one of the city’s busiest traffic intersections, fortuitously meeting the necessity that work of this sort be done in the turmoil of some metropolitan center or other unusually dense aggregation of people active in the business of being. There was a screen of trees and bushes, and during the day no one would show any interest in a car parked here for a few hours.”

Marc had a set of 360 3″ x 5″ cardboard cards that he had prepared. These were blank except for a small notation of the sign and number on one side (i.e. Aries 1, Aries 2 up to Pisces 30). Marc would shuffle the cards and place one in front of Elsie, neither of them knowing the sign or number on the card. Marc wrote about this: “One card was put face down before the medium, and she reported on the picture she saw by inward vision. This was noted hurriedly in pencil on the card itself.” During the whole process, Marc kept shuffling the cards. Hence, the Sabian Oracle clairvoyantly came through Elsie’s psychically attuned mind completely at random (i.e. not in zodiac order Aries 1, Aries 2, Aries 3 etc.) They did ninety Symbols, took a break, did another ninety, had lunch and a short drive, then did another ninety and finished the last ninety at the end of the day.

That the entire set of Sabian Symbols was visualized and recorded in one day is a truly extraordinary feat! If the process of visualizing and recording the Symbols took four hours in the morning and four hours in the afternoon, on average 45 Symbols would have to have been visualized per hour, or one every minute and a half. Elsie Wheeler was obviously tapping into another level of consciousness.

What they’d achieved on that day became clearer and clearer to Marc Edmund Jones over the following years. He had called the exercise an ‘experiment’, but exactly what they had discovered is still emerging today through the minds of those who use the Symbols.



Marc Edmund Jones believed that Elsie Wheeler had tapped into what he called the ‘ancient mind matrix’ of the Sabian alchemists of ancient Mesopotamia. Jones wrote that

 “…psychism seams to deal with (a) sort of group identity, or with an intelligence which is immortal in the fact that it can be revivified and consulted at will.”

Marc said that there was a presence and cooperation “on the invisible side of life” of one of the Brothers of the ancient Sabian occult sect. At the end of the day, when the entire Oracle had been completed, Marc sensed something was wrong with one of the Symbols, and asked Elsie to do that particular one again. He felt this so strongly that it occurred to him that he was being guided by something, so he asked Elsie if ‘the Brother’ was there. Upon hearing that he was, Marc asked her what he was doing, to which she responded that he was “standing with his arms folded.” Marc then said “Ask him why he didn’t correct that.” Elsie responded, “He says that is up to you.” It appears that on all levels, a higher kind of ‘consciousness’ or ‘intelligence’ was operating.



The Sabian Symbol story is embedded in the ancient cultures of the Middle East. Marc Edmund Jones felt that there was an “unseen agency” – an external, esoteric mind-set at work in the birthing of the Sabian Symbols. Connection was made through a ‘Brother’, a member of the ancient Mesopotamian brotherhood, the Sabian Brotherhood. He believed that they were the ‘voices’ that were spiritually behind Elsie Wheeler, delivering the messages that became the Symbols.

The Sabian people were an ancient race of alchemists, living in Harran, a city on the banks of the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia, where astrology is said to have originated. Harran existed from the third millennium BC to the thirteenth century AD. It was the repository for the philosophy of the ancient Chaldeans, who were among the founders of astrology. The Sabians were alchemists who were into talismanic magic and hermeticism. Michael Baigent in his book ‘From the Omens of Babylon’ describes talismanic magic as “the magic whereby a deity’s power is attracted or coerced down to be concentrated into a physical object…. It is, perhaps, analogous to a huge spiritual lens which might magnify and concentrate the powers from above.”

In early Babylonia the moon-cult was the national religion: the name Chaldeans means ‘moon-worshippers’. As the religion was gradually wiped out elsewhere, the Sabian people maintained and developed the tradition of Chaldean astrology. They built temples to planets and their rather sophisticated system of alchemy linked the 7 planets (as were known then) with metals, colors and numbers. They worked with talismans, oracles and magic. The last temple that was left standing was a moon temple, destroyed by the Tartars in AD 1032. The sect itself disappeared during Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century, when its water supply was diverted to a neighboring town.


Information about The Charubel Symbols, the precursor to the Sabian evolution, will be posted here soon.