Man by Degrees
Astrologer and Psychic, John Thomas.
Thomas (Charubel) 09 Nov 1826 07:00 AM LMT (Cwmbau, Caerinion Castle)
Montgomery WALES Long: 3w03 Lat: 52n33 Source: Fagan
11 November 1908, Manchester, England.
astrologer interested in the use of degree symbols will have at some
point come across Charubel's The Degrees of the Zodiac Symbolised.
Prior to Marc Edmund Jones' Sabian symbols, this was one of the most
well known, and referred to, texts on the subject. Originally serialised
in the Astrologer's Magazine they were also published in Alan Leo's
Astrological Manual No. VIII in 1898. The degree descriptions
were obtained by Charubel psychically to help rectify the ascendants
of horoscopes. They gained the attention of Marc Edmond Jones, who
originally wanted to find Charubel to recast the descriptions of the
symbols so they would have a more general application. Later he decided
that they were too moralized for his purposes, or too "grooved in
a single mood -- no less objectionable than the older identification
as good or bad ...." He wanted to create a more universal set of symbols.
This led to the creation of the Sabian Symbols with Elsie Wheeler
some astrologers will be aware of Charubel's association with Alan
Leo. Just another nineteenth century astrologer hanging out in Alan
Leo's crowd. Except astrology wasn't his main activity. And if there
was any hanging out to be done then it was Leo doing it. Charubel's
name has gone down in astrological history because of Leo's publication
of his degree symbols, but to his contemporaries John Thomas was a
renowned Welsh seer and mystic.
was born John Thomas and as a child was devoted to Christianity. By
his early twenties he had become a curative Mesmerist and was later
to progress to herbalism, astrology, mediumship and occultism. He
went on to study Calvinistic and Methodist theology in 1851. Thomas
was soon to be renowned as a seer, prophet and healer.
was never to be a conventional Methodist preacher. Thomas instead
dedicated his life to studying the laws of nature and the laws of
life. For sixty years he studied nature in all her manifestations.
His motto was " inner and not outer ". A psychic, he claimed to be
gifted with second sight or precognition and had a sixth sense for
seeing frightening and horrifying forms described either as "Submundanes"
healing skills were particularly renowned. He specialised in the treatment
of rheumatism. He often relied on precipitated letters from the spirit
world for his methods of treatment. Thomas prepared hundreds of horoscopes
in his time, taking the trouble to draw them in parchment. He also
did a roaring business in talismans. Money was never of great interest
to him and Thomas lived very simply. Throughout his life Thomas continued
to study the scriptures. It was his belief that true magic was that
that supplied a union with God.
name Charubel was his member name in an occult society he formed.
He was the head of this esoteric order and the father of a brotherhood
that extended to everybody. He was attributed with a precise and rich
knowledge of the spirits of the nature in our planet. All the sacred
names and their hidden forces were believed known by him.
Leo became a member of this society and adopted the name Agorel.
Each member of this society derived a mystical name from astrological
significators, numerology and geometry. Some names were taken from
Hebrew. Although the society was never the success that Thomas had
hoped, it had members all over the world and for much of his life
he kept up lengthy and frequent correspondence with its members.
Celestial Brotherhood, or as it was known to the general public,
The British and Foreign Society of Occultists was a short-lived
organization. It was broadly similar in its workings to the Order
of the Golden Dawn. It involved a system of progressive grades,
professed to receiving teachings from hidden Adepts on the inner planes
and practiced magical and quasi-magical rituals. Two of its most renowned
members, John Yarker and Major Francis George Irwin, were also Masons
associated with a number of occult organisations.
Society was first mentioned in July 1884 in the inaugural issue of
The Seer, edited by Thomas and later renamed The Occultist.
Alan Leo was a frequent writer for The Occultist. References were
made in this publication to The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor and
Peter Davidson and Thomas Henry Burgoyne. The connection appears to
have ceased when The Occultist remained under Thomas and Davidson
with Burgoyne introducing his own magazine The Occult Magazine
in February 1885.
was already well known for his mediumistic work and for producing
phenomena when he wrote his first published work The Country of
the Bible. Other books followed with his final work Psychology
of Botany securing his already good reputation. Although well
known throughout England and Wales, Thomas shunned the limelight.
Although he is remembered as Charubel today, many of his writings
were done under the name of Julius Balsamo - a reference to the Count
1890 Thomas was living in Frodsham, Cheshire. Although still retaining
his reputation as a spiritualist and medium he was in severe financial
straits by this time. "He has come entirely to grief and is sending
begging letters to every one. He was a Medium in communication with
the Colour Spirits with whom he seems to have had a pact, but on two
occasions he nearly lost his life thro' them. The most apparently
peacable Elementals, if a storm happens to come on, will become very
violent and uncontrollable, The conflict of the elements seems to
excite them to fury, and woe to the mortal, not being an Adept, who
encounters them. Thomas has gone the way of all Mediums. I have investigated
the circumstances as to a good many, and I find they all go wrong,
sooner or later."
was clearly in contact still with Alan Leo at this time. The Astrologer's
Magazine of November 1890 mentions
(late of the Occultist)…and several other friends" as future contributors.
In the following issue the first set of degree symbols appeared, beginning
at 25 degrees of Libra, where Thomas believed the zodiac to start,
with the heading "We recommend the following to the notice of our
readers, as we are confident it will be found both interesting and
was spending much of his time travelling in the north and west of
England during this period and spent time with Thomas.
1891 Thomas' health had begun to fail. His illness in the summer of
that year meant that his contributions to the pages of the Astrologer's
Magazine had to be suspended. He became less and less active and by
the time he was 82 years old Thomas no longer left his room. The world
came to his door and he received many visitors from all over the globe,
Leo included. Esotericists, astrologers, healers and spiritualists
all travelled to study at the feet of a man who they regarded as a
great teacher. It was believed by many at this time that overuse of
his psychic powers in the past had led to his losing much of his ability.
In 1908 Thomas died in Manchester.
Works: The Degrees of the Zodiac Symbolised. By Charubel. To which
is added, The Theoretical Value of the Degrees of the Zodiac. By
H.S.Green. - London: Nichols & Co., 1898.
Degrees of the Zodiac Symbolised by Charubel, to which is added
a translation of a similar series found in "La Volasfera" (translation
and additional notes by Sepharial). - London: Modern Astrology,
of Botany. - Charubel. Tyldesley: R.Welch, 1906.
Vision of the North Pole* The geo? sphere* The Country of the Bible*
Sources: Astrologer's Magazine 1890 and 1891
Disappointed Magus: John Thomas and His 'Celestial Brotherhood'"
by Robert A. Gilbert. Theosophical History Magazine Volume VIII
Issue 3 July 2000
Thomas by María Teresa Martinez (in Spanish) http://members.nbci.com/spicasc/charubel.html
Degrees of the Zodiac Symbolised. By Charubel
Origin and History of The Sabian Symbols by Diana E. Roche http://www.sabian.org/ssorigin.htm