360 Degrees of Wisdom
360 Degrees of Wisdom is based around the Sabian Symbols, that were channeled from ancient Mesopotamian astrologers. The book includes 42 cards in tear-out pages - but you can also make your own - for use with the 360 oracular meanings, and is designed to be easier than Tarot.
By Lynda Hill
Book - Published by Penguin
Review by Toria Betson
'Virgo 29: A Man is Gaining Secret Knowledge from an Ancient Scroll he is Reading', was the Sabian Symbol I drew when asking for advice on writing this review. Further down the page, and discussing the oracular meaning of this symbol, Lynda Hill has written, "To gain a sense of clarity in your situation, go back to the basic or essential truths of the matter".
OK... the essential truth is that I’ve found this oracle to work! It is uncannily accurate, and very easy to use.
Sabian symbols were first channeled in 1925, in San Diego California, by the clairvoyant Elsie Wheeler, and recorded by astrologer and spiritualist, Marc Edmund Jones. Elsie Wheeler saw 360 images, 30 for each of the 12 zodiac signs, one for each astrological degree.
Edmund Jones believed a member of an ancient Mesopotamian Sabian Brotherhood gave the symbols to Wheeler. Lynda Hill tells us "the Sabian people maintained and developed the tradition of Chaldean astrology."
While the Sabian Symbols are said to have been sent from an ancient brotherhood, the symbols themselves are contemporary, so are meaningful to the way we live now.
This oracle is very flexible in the way it may be used. One may simply open the book to a symbol, or think of a number and look up that page.
Included in the book, is a simple birth date chart. Three symbols are assigned to each date of birth. I looked up the birth symbols for all of my family and several friends. They all fit perfectly.
There are a set of cards that may be torn out of the book and used. Instructions are given if you prefer to make your own set by using two sets of standard playing cards, one red and one blue.
Twelve red cards are labeled, each with a sign of the zodiac. The blue cards are numbered, one through thirty. One of each card is drawn, giving 360 possible symbols, and the symbols are easily looked up in the book. The symbols may be read singly, or used in spreads.
Those interested in astrology may take this oracle to even more levels, by using the symbols for each position in a birth chart, or charting the planets from day to day. Every method I’ve tried was accurate and meaningful.
The cards are not illustrated, however, the Sabian Symbols found in the book, vividly describe scenes or images. For example, Capricorn 4 says "A Group of People Entering a Canoe for a Journey by Water". This enables the reader to see the pictures in their own mind, which allows for a more personal, and I find intuitive, reading.
Each symbol is given a well-filled page, which includes the symbol, a commentary, the oracle, keywords and the caution. Several quotes by a wide range of luminaries fill the margins, and add depth and sometimes humor, to the possible interpretations.
We are asked, "What does this SYMBOL say to you", at the bottom of each page, reminding us to use and trust our intuition.
I would very much like to see this book published with a separate and more substantial deck of cards, rather than the thin cardboard, tear-out pages. I found once torn apart, the cards required trimming, to make them all the same size.
But, don’t let the cards keep you from purchasing this oracle. The book is well written and was clearly a labor of love. I am using mine every day, and am constantly amazed by the synchronicities of its symbols in my life.
This book is perfect for both the beginner and those experienced with oracles, and is very easy to use. As Lynda Hill writes, "There are no mistakes. We receive the message we’re meant to receive when we’re meant to."
Review by Solandia
(I have reviewed here the self-published edition of Lynda Hill’s book, titled 'The Sabian Symbols As An Oracle', which was later published by Penguin as '360 Degrees of Wisdom'. My copy is virtually the same, and differs only in title and that its cards were printed separately.)
The Sabian Symbols are 360 oracle symbols, linked with zodiacal signs and degrees. I wrongly assumed at first that these symbols were actual images, but they are more accurately word pictures; short descriptive phrases that paint a very clear image in the mind’s eye. For example:
Libra 3 – The Dawn of a New Day Reveals Everything Changed
Cancer 26 – Guests are Reading in the Library of a Luxurious Home
Aquarius 8 – Beautifully Gowned Wax Figures on Display
Scorpio 15 – Children Playing Around Five Mounds of Sand
Taurus 30 – A Peacock Parading its Splendor on the Terrace of an Old Castle
The Symbols were created in a single day in 1925, by astrologer Marc Edmund Jones, together with clairvoyant Elsie Wheeler. According to the story, Jones had a set of 360 cards, each with the astrological sign and degree on one side. He would shuffle them and give one to Wheeler, who was reputed to be able to ‘see’ symbols, and she would describe a scene. In this way they progressed through all of the cards, and created the unique Sabian Symbols.
Lynda Hill, a qualified astrologer based in Australia, discovered the existence of the Sabian Symbols in the early nineties, and began researching and then lecturing on them a few months later. Her book builds on the Symbols for their use as an oracular system, offering a page of commentary and keywords for each Symbol. When insight is needed, one can flip to a page, or think of a number from 1 to 360, but the most random – and recommended - method is to use the provided cards.
The early chapters of the book begin by explaining Lynda’s connection and her life’s journey that brought her to the Sabian Symbols, a story of her guidance and synchronicity through a single card: Aries 16 – Brownies in the Setting Sun, and how the Symbols themselves came into being. Richard Hill contributes an essay on how they may be used in practice and includes some client case studies.
There follows an somewhat unexpected chapter, titled Hitler: A Veiled Prophet or Angel of Darkness. It looks at Hitler’s birth chart, and the indications of his personality, for clues to what may have made him into the person he became. Lynda examines and analyses his astrological chart, revealing layers of meaning with reference to the Sabian Symbols, and drawing interesting comparisons with the charts of Pauline Hanson (a notorious Australian ex-politician) and even Gandhi.
The following chapter is back to more conventional material and explains using the Oracle cards, including instructions on how to make a set from two packs of playing cards. A set is also supplied with the book: thirty red-backed cards with a printed number from one to thirty on the face, and twelve blue-backed cards with the name of an astrological sign on each. (One chooses both a blue and red card and puts them together to find the sign and degree.)
The rest of the book has 360 pages - one for each Sabian Symbol – ordered from Aries to Pisces, and from 1 to 30 in each sign. Each page has the Symbol, commentary and an expanded description, the oracular meaning, keywords, The Caution (analogous to reversed meanings in Tarot cards), and the question: What does this SYMBOL say to you? Each sidebar is also filled with relevant from literature, actors, musicians, proverbs – anything relevant to the Sabian Symbol.
An excerpt from Sagittarius 29 – A Fat Boy Mowing The Lawn:
Commentary: A ‘Fat Boy Mowing The Lawn’ shows someone getting up and doing something to improve the appearance and the ease of life for himself and others in the home. The ‘Fat Boy’ can be the ‘kid’ that has everything available to him, but still, sometimes, has to do what his family and society dictates rather than what he’d rather be doing. As he is said to be a ‘Fat Boy’, perhaps he’s used to not having to do or contribute very much, mostly laying around watching television or playing computer games. The ‘front yard’ may be all cleaned up and looking neat and tidy, but how does the ‘back yard’ look?
Keywords: Superficial show. Being unprepared to accept that thins just look respectable, and ‘right’. Trying to lose weight through doing things around the house. Coming to grips with mechanical tools. Perspiring through effort. Training the youngsters how to do the chores.
The Caution: Pushing social respectability, avoiding something. Not wanting to help around the house. Being a 'lounge-lizard'. Not knowing ho to deal with the everyday reality-factors of life. Being bored with having to do chores. Not getting off one’s backside. Ignoring the nagging.
The Sabian Symbols give insight into the 360 degrees of the zodiac for astrologers, but can also be used as a standalone oracle for those, like myself, who are without any great astrological knowledge. The total of 360 symbols gives huge scope compared to conventional decks or oracles. The word images are so picturesque and full of meaning - like ‘A Splendidly Built Bridge, a Heritage of Unknown Ages, Still Spans the Beautiful and Wildly Primitive Stream’ for one – that it’s not hard to imagine the scene and allow our own intuitive insights to emerge.
Kate Hill (also known as Solandia) is the founder and editor of Aeclectic Tarot, and has reviewed more than 200 decks over the years.