Master Astrologer Returns to London
By Anthony Demetris
On 15 September 2003 at precisely 11:00 a.m. BST a plaque was unveiled in London in honour of the great English astrologer William Lilly (1602-81). This was a unique occasion as it is the first plaque ever to be erected in commemoration of an astrologer in the middle of central London on a famous main thoroughfare. The plaque is now situated on the side wall of the disused Strand (formerly Aldwych) underground station, beside Kings College on the Strand, only a short distance from the exact spot on which Lilly's house once stood over 300 hundred years ago.
King's College is one of the highly respected academic institutions in the country. The wall upon which the plaque stands is the property of King's College, and so it is ironic that this plaque, which will go on to represent so much for future education in astrology, has found its place in an educational establishment. With the erection of this plaque we would assume and hope that Westminster Council will now benefit from added interest in this area, as many students and visitors will want to see this commemorative plaque in recognition of William Lilly. We also hope that students who research Lilly and his work will now understand what true astrology is. At present the subject is still at times given bad publicity. We hope that in future this plaque will help astrology gain better publicity, for as individuals begin to research Lilly they will begin to discover that the work he has left us is a far cry from the preconceptions of some people of the media. Astrology can become discredited by the actions of those who exploit this most precious art, actions which have done us devotees of real astrology no credit whatsoever and don't help our situation when the media attack. Sceptics may not understand that astrology is closer to Creation than they realise. Unless they appreciate this metaphysical science, they may not have access to knowledge previously unknown to them about the universe.
At around 10:30 a.m. a group of about thirty astrologers began to gather at the site where Lilly once lived, ready to witness history in the making. At 10:45 a.m. the deputy Mayor, Michael Brahams, arrived and was greeted by Gillian Dawson of Westminster Council's plaque department, myself and honorary guest Geoffrey Cornelius. As the Mayor began to speak he informed us that William Lilly was now welcomed as the 53rd person to hold a green plaque in Westminster and continued, "Westminster is rich in heritage, and the green plaques scheme celebrates the endeavours of its residents. Green plaques are awarded to eminent people from history who have made outstanding contributions to British history, human welfare and happiness, and we are delighted that William Lilly is now joining the prestigious list of those immortalised in those parts of Westminster where they lived, for everyone to enjoy". The first green plaque was awarded to Sir Winston Churchill in 1991.
Geoffrey Cornelius then went on to speak to the crowd about Lilly's work and about what he had accomplished during the period he lived on the corner house on the Strand, proudly reminding us that we now stand on the site where he once lived, so many years past. (The Strand had been raised in this part, so it has to be remembered that we were standing approximately 21 feet above the actual level on which his house once stood).
Next came the unveiling of the plaque by the Mayor presiding over the ceremony. A blue silk curtain covered the plaque. As the curtain came down it was a very emotional moment seeing the green plaque revealed with William Lilly's name inscribed on it, well received by the crowd, applauding and cheering. It was a marvellous atmosphere and a sight to be seen: William Lilly, Master Astrologer, at long last returning to his London home in true style. It could be said that Lilly and astrology are now literally and firmly on the map.
After the photographs, we all headed back to the George Public House on the Strand opposite the Royal Courts of Justice to a Champagne reception and celebration. Geoffrey acted as master of ceremonies, gathering everyone around and introducing those who had agreed to speak about Lilly. Sue Ward was first, with a breathtaking speech about Lilly's numerous activities such as his prediction of the great fire of 1666 and other memorable moments in his life. She was followed by John Frawley, reminding us of the days when Lilly and his friends would meet close to where we were, enjoying their astrologer's feast. This certainly made me feel that we were now in spirit somehow part of that piece of history. Lastly, Patrick Curry did Lilly proud as he rounded off with more about the events in Lilly's life, reminding the Mayor and fellow astrologers that astrology was now part of the syllabus at the renowned and highly acclaimed Bath Spa University. My thanks to all three of those experts and authorities on William Lilly's life and work, and of course to Geoffrey Cornelius. They have all helped make this wonderful occasion so memorable. I would also like to thank all those members of the Astrological Association (and others) who sponsored this event, and for being there to support this most auspicious and eventful day.
There was little choice but September, as the plaque would not be back from the manufacturer (foundry) until late July, and during August most senior members were unavailable. Trying to gather everyone and elect a suitable moment to unveil proved a difficult task; even Westminster Council began objecting to my proposed date, saying that Mondays were inappropriate. I explained that any new undertaking needed to be launched at the right moment to achieve any level of success. It had to be 15 September as no other day in the month was suitable, and eventually it was finally agreed to.
My first thought in choosing the moment to unveil was of course a strong Moon (increasing in light preferable, but was not within our reach) in a good applying aspect to the Sun from one of the angles. Next priority was fixed signs on the ASC and MC, with their rulers well placed within the chart providing stability, in the hope that Lilly's name and the plaque would stand the test of time. Having Scorpio rising, a fixed sign giving longevity, also generates passionate feelings that will endure. The energy that Mars gives is necessary for propelling, so launching this memorial (of Lilly and astrology) forwards into the future, with promise.
Through this plaque William Lilly will now be on public show for all to see, by inscription. All of Lilly's books and written work will now begin to flourish as he begins to be researched.William Lilly has at last been brought back to London where he once lived and worked from 1620 until 1665.
The sponsors (32 persons donated) were: Jessica Adams £20, Caroline Allen £20, Sema Akyol £25, Pat Blackett £25, Kevin Briggs £25, James Brockbank £20, Sheila Bruck £25, Patrick Casey £25, Geoffrey Cornelius £50, Robert Currey £100, Kate Czerny £25 John S Dawson £25, Anthony Demetris £25, John Dunne £25, Jane Farrer £25, John Frawley £25, Roy Gillett £25, R M Haslam £50, Maggie Hyde £25, Lurreta Hurman £20, Paul Jackson £25 Sharon Knight £20, Terry Lawlor £50, Roz Park £20, Edith Pettigrew £25, Louise Ronane £25, C P Robbins £10, Ruth Ronaldson £10, Wanda Sellar £5, Penny Steffen-Stuart £25, Wendy Stacey £25, and Sue Ward £25.
After all the donations were made, the total amount came to £870. The plaque itself cost £250, with the celebrations costing £503. Other minor costs were archive copies (£45), and the flowers for Gillian Dawson of Westminster Council for all her work and effort (£35). Total costs were £833. The balance of £37 will be donated to the Astrological Association.
Anthony Demetris was born at Whittington Hospital, London, on 25 May 1948, at 17:55 BST. He has been studying astrology since 1988 and holds John Frawley's diploma in horary.