Martin Gansten - Traditional astrologer

Primary Directions: Astrology’s Old Master Technique

Primary Directions
The technique known today as primary directions is one of the most ancient and renowned methods of astrological forecasting, and also one of the most powerful.

From classical antiquity throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and even into the twentieth century, all the great names of western astrology have worked with primary directions. It was the predictive technique of Dorotheus and Ptolemy, of Māshā’allāh and Abū Ma‘shar, of Regiomontanus and Placidus, of Morin de Villefranche and William Lilly. To understand the Old Masters of astrology, we must understand primary directions.

Students of traditional astrology have often been deterred by overly mathematical presentations from approaching the important subject of directions. This comprehensive study explains the principles of primary directions in an accessible form, illustrating them by practical examples. It also draws on many original source texts to outline the historical origins and development of the technique, and shows how it has been reinterpreted and occasionally misunderstood.

A full glossary and appendices with software reviews as well as formulae for manual calculations complement the text. The craft of the Old Masters can still be learnt.

First chapter online

Click here to read a free chapter from Primary Directions: Astrology’s Old Master Technique

Praise for Primary Directions:

Robert Hand:
Martin’s book is the first clear non-technical exposition of Placidean and other primary directing techniques ever written, and that word is ‘ever’. Up till now no technique in astrology has ever been the subject of such obfuscation.

Deborah Houlding:
What has been needed for a long time is a no-nonsense text, which can offer a well informed outline of the topic as a whole, and then work towards shading in the details in a simple to understand style. Martin Gansten has perfectly fulfilled the task. Assuming no prior knowledge, his book begins with an overview and a history of the subject. It then breaks the subject apart – so that the various elements and terms are explained – before putting it all back together again so that the student can apply the technique in practice.

Dr Benjamin Dykes:
Your book on primary directions is one of the best astrology books I’ve read in years! ... really the best book ever written on primary directions.

Christopher Warnock:
Primary Directions is an excellent introduction to what Martin rightly pinpoints as a key natal timing technique. The explanations of the complex mathematical and astronomical basis of the primary directions are clear and lucid. Martin has managed to walk the fine line between oversimplification and overloading the reader with technical details. I would definitely recommend Primary Directions anyone interested in traditional natal astrology and natal timing.

Other reader comments:
This is one of the finest astrological texts I’ve encountered – the writing is clear, precise and accessible without denying the complexity of the subject matter; and I’m understanding the mechanics of primary direction to a degree that I wouldn’t have thought possible, given my limited mathematical background. There is more carefully thought-through and gracefully-presented information within these pages than in many works of three times the length. You provide your reader with soil and seed for a rich harvest, indeed. Thank you very much for your work. – Bonnie Wells

I do believe your work will become an astrological classic. It fills a massive gap for the whole astrological community [and] has been sorely needed. For the non-mathematically minded amongst us like myself it makes the subject far more approachable and dispels many myths. I am sure your book will remain the definitive book on the subject for decades to come. – Mark Cullen

I had the book for only one week (I misplaced it somewhere) and I had years of confusing technicalities cleared up for me instantly!– Estebon Duarte

For more reviews of Primary Directions: Astrology’s Old Master Technique, see

Contents at a glance:

  • The basics: what are primary directions?
  • A brief history of primary directions
  • The three-dimensional chart
  • Directing planets and aspects
  • Equation of years and other variables
  • Modern innovations
  • The hyleg and the length of life
  • Primary directions and other predictive techniques
  • Formulae for calculating primary directions
  • Software offering primary directions
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index

How to order

You can order the book from,, or directly from The Wessex Astrologer.