Martin Gansten - Traditional astrologer

The Primary Directions Diploma Course

This online course is designed to take you step by step through an ancient and powerful predictive technique. No prior knowledge of the subject is required, and the course covers both classical and more modern uses of primary directions. You will be tutored personally through email by Dr Martin Gansten, who will guide you at your own preferred pace through the process of calculating and interpreting primary directions. We anticipate that most students will be able to complete the course within three to twelve months.

The course is divided into twelve lessons, each including learning objectives, required reading, worked examples from modern charts and classical texts, and homework assignments. Each lesson will be sent to you once the assignments from the previous lesson have been submitted and corrected. After passing the final exam, you will be awarded the diploma Master of Primary Directions.

The Primary Directions Diploma Course fee is currently fixed in UK and US currencies to £450 or $600. Payment in other currencies is fine; please contact us for details. Required reading, in addition to the course material itself, is Primary Directions: Astrology’s Old Master Technique.


Click here to register for the course.

Course contents at a glance:

Lesson 11 Lesson 1. Introduction: the chart in three dimensions

After completing Lesson 1 you will:

  • be conversant with the different coordinate systems relevant to astrology in general, and to primary directions in particular.
  • be able to plot the approximate position of a planet on a chart representing those coordinate systems and, conversely, to read the approximate coordinates of a planet shown in such a chart.

Lesson 2. The technical language of primary directions

After completing Lesson 2 you will:

  • have a good grasp of the traditional meanings of terms such as significator, promissor, direct and converse.
  • be able to follow the descriptions of primary directions in ancient, medieval, and Renaissance authors (in English translation) and understand their nomenclature.
  • know how that nomenclature changed in modern times.

Lesson 3. Basic mathematics of primary directions

After completing Lesson 3 you will:

  • be conversant with the mathematical notation often used in connection with primary directions.
  • be able confidently to use a scientific calculator, or your computer’s calculator function, to derive the basic data needed for primary directions: the right ascension of the midheaven, the oblique ascension of the ascendant, and the right ascension and declination of any planet or point in the zodiac.

HRH Victoria Lesson 4. Directing the angles

After completing Lesson 4 you will:

  • be able to calculate all directions of the ascendant, descendant, upper and lower midheaven.
  • understand the principles involved, including the difference between a direction with latitude (in mundo) and one without latitude (in zodiaco), and also the difference between Ptolemaic and other ancient forms of directions.

Lesson 5. The measure of time

After completing Lesson 5 you will:

  • have a clear understanding of the various issues involved in timing a direction and of the degree of exactitude involved.
  • comprehend all the principal methods used by astrologers to convert an arc of direction into a time of life, and be able to apply them to any direction you calculate.

Lesson 6. Directions between planets (the semi-arc method)

After completing Lesson 6 you will:

  • be able to calculate all directions involving two planets or points not located on the angles of the chart, using the ‘mixed ascensions’ or proportional semi-arc method employed by Ptolemy, Placidus, and most of the medieval astrologers.
  • be acquainted with ancient and medieval modes of describing these calculations.

Lesson 7. Hyleg, alcochoden, and the length of life

After completing Lesson 7 you will:

  • have a detailed grasp of the traditional use of primary directions to determine the length of a native’s life, from the earliest Greek sources through the medieval Perso-Arabic authors and into the European Renaissance.
  • be conversant with the technical vocabulary surrounding these techniques, including the rarely explained horimaea, and be equipped to apply them to real charts.

Lesson 8. Directions in the Renaissance: the Regiomontanian revolution

After completing Lesson 8 you will:

  • understand the issues leading to a reinterpretation of Ptolemy initiated by Arabic authors of the late Middle Ages and popularized during the Renaissance.
  • be able to calculate all directions involving two planets or points not located on the angles of the chart using the position-circle method employed by Argol, Morinus, William Lilly, and most other astrologers of this era.

William Lilly
William Lilly
Lesson 9. Placidus and the neo-Ptolemaic method

After completing Lesson 9 you will:

  • understand the major changes introduced in the 17th century by Placidus and his followers, even as they strove to re-establish the teachings of Ptolemy – changes which remain part of the technique of primary directions even today.
  • be conversant with the terminology of Placidean astrology, and able to calculate mundane aspects, parallels, and Placidean directions ‘under the pole’ for any chart.

Lesson 10. Directions and the hierarchy of prediction

After completing Lesson 10 you will:

  • understand the role of primary directions in relation to other traditional predictive techniques such as annual revolutions and profections, transits and ingresses, as well as more recent techniques such as secondary directions and progressions.
  • be able to combine several of these techniques to real charts in order to gain greater precision and detail.

Lesson 11. Modern developments and reinterpretations

After completing Lesson 11 you will:

  • have a clear understanding of the changes and developments introduced into the theory and practice of primary directions during the 19th and 20th centuries by a number of astrologers, including John Worsdale, A. J. Pearce, W. R. Old (Sepharial), Alan Leo and E. C. Kühr.
  • be able to compare modern and traditional methods and form an opinion on their respective merits.

Lesson 12. Calculating directions using computer software

After completing Lesson 12 you will:

  • be aware of the existing selection of astrological software offering primary directions, their advantages and limitations.
  • be able to make use such software to produce any particular style of primary directions desired – whether that of Ptolemy, the medieval Perso-Arabic astrologers, Morinus, Placidus, Lilly, or more modern authors.