What is Astro-PHYSIOGNOMY?

Zodiac Faces (article) - Part I

The energetic patterns of planetary energies can be seen and decoded from close facial and body analysis.

The Premise

Particles, people and planets are all connected without and within. We have forgotten this basic principle of nature. Biological behaviours and patterns are directly linked to particle & light behaviours, quantum fields interact with and effect biology. The inclinations and habits of nature are instructed and informed through the cycles and interactions of the planetary fields. In nature, these patterns can be observed and calculated. These patterns can also be observed within our biology.

Nick Faldo & Harrison Ford


Have you ever encountered someone who so uncannily resembled someone else that you’ve seen before, that as an astrologer you thought to yourself, “I wonder if those traits are influenced by their sign?” It’s long been surmised that cosmic energies effect the expression not only of a person’s personality, but also their appearance. There is a little-known, yet long history of this fascinating area of astrological theory. Astrological physiognomy is the study of the traits & characteristics of the face and body, in relation to the signs, planets, aspects and elements. What manifests in the mind, also manifests in matter. 


Two decades ago, as I was beginning to take my metaphysical practices more seriously, I was motivated to take notes on some observations regarding the appearances of the individuals whose charts I was reading. I made some inquiries into this astrological connection and found to my surprise that little substantive work had been done in this area of astrological research in modern times. Most of what was available were revised looks at older works based on previously established premises with no attempts to apply modern methods of research to new studies.

“Your face is a book, where men may read strange matters.”

~William Shakespeare

The Stars & Planets are within you

As astrologers and practitioners of the meta-sciences, how many times have we heard (or we ourselves exclaimed), “As above, so below,” the summary opening truism of the Emerald Tablets. One could almost say that it has become one of the astrological communities ‘go to’ cheerleading slogans for getting the message across of the principle of correspondence between planets and people. Yet, fewer have heard or have heralded the associated axiom, “As without, so within,” also attributed to the Hermetic teachings. Regardless of the variations of these phrases, the concept of inner and outer correspondence is an ancient one.

The majority of regularly practicing horoscopic astrologers tend not to delve too much beyond the psychological realms for more corresponding evidences of astrological correlation. Whether reading an individual’s natal chart or discussing society’s current or future events, the preoccupation of the effects of the cyclical nature of human affairs dominates the field of astrology. This tendency to stay focused primarily on the human psyche has diminished the scientific attitude that once was the backbone that united astrology with the other sciences.

There are those in the field who do carry these celestial connections into the areas of medical astrology, wherein the natal and transiting energies are taken into consideration with the native’s condition of health and the body. This physiological connection could be considered a bridge between the emotional and physical well being; and we, as astrologers, can link the psyche to the body through the lens of the planets in the Zodiac.

“A physician without a knowledge of Astrology has no right to call himself a physician.”– Hippocrates 


The term for the doctrine which assigns the physical body, both external form and internal organs, is called melothesis. The assignment of the body parts to the Zodiacal energies, has a well-established basis through many ages and in many high cultures across the globe. The famous images of the Zodiac Man “homo signorum” or “melothesia”,  shows the Zodiacal signs harmonizing the macro & microcosmic domains as they are assigned to the parts of the body. 

Occasionally in some texts in antiquity, you will find these Zodiacal associations with animals as well, where the point is also being made that the human and animal realms relate. The organic material form is directly connected to the energetic field forces in which we are immersed, and also affected by the subtlest changes of the planetary bodies around us and within the field of the Earth body, in which we have been created. 


The science of astrology was once viewed as “natural philosophy”. Astrology was not distinctly separate from any of the other physical sciences. Somewhere along the way we seemed to phase out the ‘philosophy’ aspect and to all but forget the ‘nature’. What is “astrology”?  What does it mean to each person who studies it, practices it, profanes or denounces it? You might think this would be a simple query easily answered but as many of us in the field of astrology know, there is no uniform or simple way to address this question. Is it art? Is it spiritual? Or do I dare say: Is it ‘science’


Until the last few centuries astrological study was a driving force in the fields of chemistry, astronomy, and medicine, as well as the science of the conscious evolution of the individual and collective soul. It was revered as the “highest of the sciences”. Today, astrology generally is viewed through the lens of pseudoscience in the prevalent worldview. What ‘pseudoscience’ means to each person or segment of society varies a great deal. Even a large contingent of astrologers themselves do not view astrology as scientific. Regardless, there is the general assumption that astrology isn’t scientific enough… rather, I like to put it this way, “science isn’t astrological enough.” Personally, I use the term “meta-science” to distinguish the higher divine sciences from the lower physical or quantum sciences. Despite who categorizes these sciences or how, in the overall amalgamation of human awareness, all is energy, all is nature. 

Physiognomy: It’s in your face

The practice of physiognomy actually predates horoscopic astrology. Physiognomy, from physis meaning “nature” and gnomon meaning “interpreter”) is the study & practice of determining a person’s psychological make up or personality from their outer appearance, focusing largely on the face. This area of meta-science was well established as a type of divinatory practice both in the East and the West several hundred years before natal astrology had taken hold. In fact, those who were practitioners of face-reading incorporated horoscopic practice early on, as can be seen in ancient texts in the West, some of which were translated by Rob Hand and the Arhat team.

A cautionary note when exploring the practice of face-reading: remain fully objective when observing, describing or classifying traits. There can be clear gender distinctions of many traits from sign-to-sign. There are also more prevalent general characteristics across the races. Without comparing trait themes across ethnicities or between the sexes, you can easily find yourself racially or sexually stereotyping.

I must confess,
I do not regularly practice “reading the face” to determine a person’s character nor do I indulge others by playing “guess my sign” when asked. I leave the ‘art of facial reading’ to the experts. However, I do mentally categorize certain traits according to Sun/Asc/Moon, and from time-to-time I do like to keep my eye sharp by honing in on traits that may reveal the elements, signs or planetary aspects of new people I meet.

The Chinese art of Mien Shiang

A fascinating tangent on the subject is the ancient Chinese Art of Mien Shiang (pronounced myēn shuāng), directly translated as ‘face reading’. It was observed, in what is now China, that people born during certain periods of the year, different years and within generations have shared subtle yet, common facial characteristics the related to subsequent temperaments, which in turn aligned to the ‘Chinese Zodiac’. For at least 3000 years this practice has remained relatively intact but it has been made available primarily only to the elite. In 221 BCE, Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered the majority of all esoteric material to be destroyed within the empire. (He was also the emperor who had the famous terracotta army buried.) He started by taking down his own imperial portraits, so that enemies within the state would not attempt to read his face. The practice went underground and persevered as a ‘secret teaching’. Though somewhat suppressed during the height of communist fervor, face reading has made a noticeable comeback in recent years. 

Although face-reading is an Eastern practice, more often business persons in the West have used the art in their negotiations to achieve a strategic advantage over their competition or in their handling of employee affairs. This practice, of course, requires a keen set of observational skills rather than being presented with a set of natal data to input and analyze. Essentially, this practice exemplifies the literal understanding that the “chart is in the face”. In the last decade or so, a number of schools dedicated solely to the art of Chinese face reading have emerged. Just as you would study to become proficient at reading a natal chart, so to you can become equally skilled at reading the multitude of details and traits of the face to accurately tell a person’s character and their life path.

The early Taoist philosophers and practitioners understood that the face was also a microcosm of the body as a whole. That just as the body holds the organs, the face mirrors the energy of those organs, the level of vitality they express, and so too the conditions of the celestial connections to which they correspond. Each side of the face also reflects a blending of the masculine and feminine qualities of these archetypal traits. Mien Shiang is very detailed and is based on the five elementals of the Wu Xing system. This system, though different from the Western four elements system, can be transcribed to connect these two natural languages, by means of how each corresponds to the celestial sphere.

Mole and Mark Indicators

An extension of face reading, is the art of analyzing moles (or lack thereof). Reading moles is also an ancient practice in divining a person’s character and life path. The Taoists, in their study, also went into greater detail about the connections of moles on the face and other parts of the body. The Vedic system of spiritual practice of Samudrika Lakshana, also goes into great detail of the psychological associations of moles and the astrological correspondences. In the West, this tradition can be traced, having been woven through the Hermetic teachings around physiognomy, which was merged into the rising practice of natal astrology around the end of the Hellenistic period. Whereas, the Mien Shiang system can be somewhat subjective to the untrained eye, identifying moles and their relative placements is essentially straight forward. I have found this to be a useful addition to the toolkit (similar to palmistry) when combined with the natal horoscope.

One classical example of mole’s meaning is a so-called “beauty mark” around the mouth or upper cheek, which has been long been viewed as an indicator of heightened sexuality. For reference, Marilyn Monroe, Cindy Crawford and Madonna all bare this type of beauty mark, and are recognized sex symbols around the world. This particular mark does seem to be recognized cross-culturally.

One classical example of mole’s meaning is a so-called “beauty mark” around the mouth or upper cheek, which has been long been viewed as an indicator of heightened sexuality. For reference, Marilyn Monroe, Cindy Crawford and Madonna all bare this type of beauty mark, and are recognized sex symbols around the world. This particular mark does seem to be recognized cross-culturally.

Astrologer William Lilly, in his Christian Astrology made extensive use of observations and correspondences with moles (and marks) on the body. He connected each of these to various concepts of melothesis. For example, Lilly wrote this about Aries Ascendant:

“…as if Aries be in the Ascendant, the mark, mole, or scarre is without faile in the head or face; and if few degrees of the signe ascend, the mark is in the upper part of the head; if the middle of the sign be on the cusp, the mole, mark or scar is in the middle of the face, or neer it; if the later degrees ascend, the face is blemished neer the chin, towards the neck: This I have found true in hundreds of examples.”

Granted, he saw little difference between whether these were genetic marks you were born with or if these were scars that came about during the span of life. All of these types of marks identify some aspect of life and each are connected to the energy and the effects of the planets and signs

Zodialogical Physiognomy

As I mentioned, physiognomy means ‘interpreter of or interpreting nature’. In this case, the part of nature being interpreted is you. The natural lens through which you are being interpreted is the Zodiac; the main focus being viewed is your face. Facial reading (or just physiognomy) is the practice of judging or determining an individual’s character and well-being by their countenance, whereas zodialogical physiognomy is the union of astrology with facial trait classification.

It appears from the historical record that it was a well-established independent study, practiced by the Babylonians long before the Greeks took it up. As the practice of natal astrology rose over a period of centuries in the Mediterranean, non-astrological physiognomy remained a primary method of determining a person’s health and life path. Physiognomy was utilized by astrologers as an alternative secondary method of determining character. The first mention of astrological correspondences to traits comes from a small piece of the Dead Sea Scrolls, from around 30 BCE, referencing sign-based assignments in the context of physiognomy.

Since then, there have been numerous attempts to establish a set of rules of correspondence for astrological judgment. Many early natal astrologers were focused on sign-based systems of rules, while others only used planet-based rules, and still others emphasized the decans. Some used declination and some retrograde, to establish variations within traits. Other’s have used houses, fixed stars, planetary rulerships, ascendent rulers, dwads, and even single-degree assignments, as well as various combinations of systems to establish an order for their determinations. The point being, that just like astrology as a whole practice, there is not one set of established guidelines for accurately determining the correspondences.

Yet, one thing is for certain, there is an obvious link between celestial energies and the physical attributes expressed in organic form. Despite the lack of consensus of rules, there is a remarkable consistency among the various themes in the differing systems and with the descriptors used in the determining factors of judgement, which has been observed and has persevered for centuries.

“The face is a picture of the mind with the eyes as its interpreter.”~Marcus Tullius Cicero

God & the Devil -two sides of one face

Let me start by stating, “There are no ‘pure’ archetypes, in either physiognomy or astrology. Period!” The variables for this are simply too vast to be possible, and go beyond planets and people. What we see with our eyes, in the face, are the echos of the reverberated whispers of a well-kept secret we hid from ourselves about a cloudy thought on an ancient memory we had of a past life when we once glanced in a mirror for an instant and felt that we may have seen one angle of an expression of God looking back. The only thing we glimpse are faint facsimiles of daguerreotype images protruding through a dimensional veil of spacetime attempting to take shape and form in the world of matter, which is still striving to achieve archetypal ‘perfected-ness’. In essence, we can only guess at, let’s say, what a perfected Leo would look like in both genders and through each race & ethnicity; or what the quintessential embodiment of Jupiter would look like human form.

Yet, despite this issue, one can still discern a Cancer Moon from a Aquarius Moon, a Taurus Rising from an Aries, or a Libra Sun from a Sagittarius. It takes time to train the eye and the mind for this level of complexity to be discerned but with practice it can be done with varying degrees of success. One must also take into account the ability, critical eye and possible bias of the interpreter. Some people can hear three notes of a concerto and name the composer, yet many people cannot tell Mozart from Beethoven, and some cannot tell Beethoven from John Williams. Hopefully, most people can distinguish Mozart from Jazz. The same applies to determining the distinct traits and a possible astrological correspondence.


The Mirror of Heaven & Earth

In my work on the Zodiac Faces, I have chosen to focus on element, sign, and aspect based assignments for my process. I have also had good luck at determining some themes with planet-based judgements, as well. This work contains too much to cover for an article, even looking at one primary trait in each element and sign is not possible. So I will take a look at one of the easiest to determine: the element of Fire, and the Sun placement of Sagittarius. Again, I must stress that not all who have the Sun, Ascendent or a stellium in a particular element or sign will bear these traits shown, or they may not be readily observable due to some overarching planetary factor or life occurrence. The fact is that most people are naturally ordinary and most of the archetypal ‘strong traits’ are simply diffuse.

All of the elements, signs and associated planets can be assessed through a set of distinguishing traits. The strength of the energy of each sign can also further be determined by the number of bodies in the sign, how they are aspected, and by which planets. The biological influences of the Western Fire element are, in my opinion, the simplest to spot (though natives with a dominant Mars may mimic, to some degree, the element or associated sign energy).