Ask a Question About Astro*Carto*Graphy
Or Other Locality Maps

IF YOU HAVE ordered an Astro*Carto*Graphy map from one of the sources listed on this web site, or have a locality map of some other kind and you have further questions, feel free to submit them for publication along with my answers in this space. This is primarily intended as a learning opportunity for people who would like to know about ACG maps and their interpretation, and answers will only be posted publicly. Please do not ask me to provide free answers to personal questions, as I have neither the time nor the means even to refuse such requests via return email. However, if you have a personal question and can frame it in a way that is instructive to others, then give it a go. Neither your name nor your email address will be used here, but your birth data may be used if it's pertinent to the answer. Your return email address must be valid, in case I need some point clarified.

Ken Irving

To ask your question, click here.

Q&A Topics:

How Important Are Crossings?
Lines and the Whole Chart
Gary Duncan and Astro*Carto*Graphy
Brigadier Firebrace and Astro*Carto*Graphy

How Important Are Crossings?

Question: I recently had a private consultation and was told that crossings are not significant, and the person doing the consultation did not pay attention to them. I liked that since most of my locations are "polluted" with crossings that seem to outweigh the positive aspects of the influences from the lines.

Answer: For those not familiar with the term, "crossings" (or "latitude crossings") refers to those places on an ACG map where two planets' lines intersect. The lines in question can be any combination - rising with Midheaven, setting with rising, etc. That combined influence seems to extend all along the latitude where the crossing happens. Why? Because at any point along that line, at least once each day the two planets involved in the crossing will be precisely on the angles - the strongest points in a standard horoscope - at precisely the same time. In other words, the earth's rotation gives those lines their importance.

Partly because there are so many of them, crossings in general are secondary in importance to lines, but in the many "empty" places on a map where you will have no lines, a crossing or two running through those places can become very important. The same (and more) can be said of the exact point on your map where a crossing happens, since it involves a joining of two or more lines at a single place on the map.

Finally, the importance of crossings - as with everything else in an Astro*Carto*Graphy map - is directly related to the importance of the planets in question in your standard birth chart, and it is also directly related to what you yourself are looking for in choosing a new locality. If you want to find a place where you can work hard and achieve lasting success, if you go to a location that features a very exact crossing of Venus and Jupiter and those two planets are well placed and well aspected in your chart, they could actually detract from your chosen goal. You'd have a really good time, certainly, but might have little to show for it once the fun was over. On the other hand, with the same goal and an unaspected Saturn in the western half of your birth chart, if you went to an area which otherwise looked great, but which featured a crossing of Saturn and Pluto, your efforts to build and grow could end up being frustrated by self-defeating attitudes and actions.

What I'm getting down to saying is that crossings should not simply be ignored, but instead have to be considered in the context of your birth chart and in the context of your objectives in looking for a new place to live (or your desire to be more effective in the place where you must live). If that's not done, you're only getting the generalities. To put a new wrinkle in an old piece of cloth, we could say that both the devil and the angels may be lurking in the details being overlooked.    Return to topic list

Lines and the Whole Chart

Question: Someone told me that Astro*Carto*Graphy was outdated because it only considered isolated lines. For example, a Jupiter line is always a "good" or "lucky" place to go while Saturn is always a "bad" place to go. If Saturn happens to be the strongest planet in a person's chart and Jupiter happens to be the weakest, isn't better for a person to go the Saturn line than the Jupiter line?

Answer: Sounds like your friend has been reading old ACG ads in astrology magazines and has never been to a lecture or workshop given by the late Jim Lewis, Ken Irving, or one of the many trained and certified ACG practitioners. The advertising tended to emphasize very simple things, like the textbook difference between Jupiter and Saturn. On the other hand, even if you read through some of the material on this site (e.g., Grace's Saturnian Journey), you'll see that the view of ACG you mention above is just plain wrong. Using ACG methods to consider a move from one locality to another is a process that involves a look at the whole chart, and a discussion with the person to determine his or her interests and needs, and it's never as simple as telling people to follow the benefic planet lines and stay away from the malefic ones.   Return to topic list

Gary Duncan and Astro*Carto*Graphy

Question: I understand that the methods used by Jim Lewis in Astro*Carto*Graphy were actually invented by someone else named Gary Duncan. Is this true?

Answer: No. Definitely not. According to Michael Erlewine, the late Gary Duncan (the astrological identity of programmer and mathematician Neil Block, deceased in 1988) claimed to be the first to computerize maps of this type, something which may well be true, but that's as far as the claim went. See, for example, this statement at, which is an assessment of Duncan's life and work originally published in print after his death. In the piece as a whole, Erlewine is very careful in fleshing out the details of Duncan's work and not only gives his sources, but appends critical comments where necessary. In regard to locality mapping, Erlewine says:

. . . He was also very proud of the fact that he was the first astrologer to produce astro-geography maps on a computer, back in the 1950's. I have a copy of these maps as published in Llewellyn's Moon Sign Book in 1966.

So Duncan's actual claim, as recorded by Erlewine, is quite different from the idea that Duncan invented locality mapping per se. If Duncan didn't claim that he "invented" such maps, but rather that he was the first to computerize them, can we identify someone as the actual inventor? Perhaps, but it might be difficult, as the first map that included rising, setting or culminating lines could have been published as early as the 1930s, with one or two planetary lines included in standard astronomical maps showing eclipse paths. I have a memory of seeing a few maps like this in issues of Wynn's Astrology, but can't confirm that recollection since I no longer have access to these.

Next in the process might have been Donald Bradley in his "What's Ahead for the World?" feature, which appeared in the 1958 American Astrology Digest (with a publication date in the Fall of 1957). This included a world map hand-drawn by Donald Bradley as a representation of all the rising, setting, and culminating lines of the planets at the time of the sidereal Capricorn solar ingress in January of 1958. After this time, Bradley on occasion included in his "Powwow Corner" column maps of localized geographical areas to illustrate points usually relating to sidereal ingresses. In any case, notice that there is a nine-year span between the publication of Bradley's first maps and the published example cited above by Erlewine, despite Duncan's apparent claim that he had done such maps in the 1950s. It seems likely that Duncan's computerization of the mapping process was preceded (and inspired) by Bradley's hand-drawn maps. More coincident with Duncan's 1966 map were two installments of Cyril Fagan's "Solunars" column (January and February of 1966) in which he actually described to readers how to construct a locality map, and showed the purpose for which it could be used in natal astrology. Thus, not only did Duncan not claim actual invention of the mapping of planetary lines, even if he had made such a claim, there is ample evidence in print that others preceded him both in terms of rendering maps and interpreting them.

If there is an inventor of the mapping process as such, it could have been Bradley or Fagan, or some contemporary such as Roy Firebrace [Note added 9/2004: See the question and answer following this one.] or James Hynes or a predecessor that none of these men may even have been aware of, such as the person who drew the maps in Wynn's Astrology. Where the mapping process is concerned, by the way, though neither Jim nor Duncan can be considered as its inventor, Jim actually developed his mapping methods independently, and he was unaware of any of the predecessors mentioned here until I pointed them out to him around the time he began to market his maps and interpretations in the mid-1970s.

Unfortunately, despite the limited and reasonable nature of Duncan's claim as reported by Erlewine, I have seen garbled renditions of it elsewhere in print and on the web. E.g., this statement at Article_12.txt

Astro*Carto*Graphy is a method of Locational Astrology that is Trade Marked by the deceased Jim Lewis. It is said Gary Duncan supplied the idea and Jim Lewis programmed the concept into a computer.

Another version popped up in a review by Hank Friedman of mapping software in the Mercury Direct secion of June/July 2003 Mountain Astrologer:

Many different astrological techniques are used to determine the effect of location on an individual's chart. Well before Jim Lewis popularized the method invented by Gary Duncan (that Jim dubbed "Astro*Carto*Graphy") . . .

You should be able to find the complete review at, or you may be able to download a PDF of that edition of Mercury Direct at

Aside from the obvious differences with Erlewine, and the lack of the kind of supporting material he provides, both the Joy Archer and the Hank Friedman comments make a similar mistake in construing Astro*Carto*Graphy as simply the drawing of planetary angularity lines on a map. Certainly this is the central focus of Astro*Carto*Graphy and of its patents and trademarks, but the real difference goes much deeper than that. Two of the three examples of early maps cited above are for use in mundane astrology, the astrology of human events en masse, whereas Astro*Carto*Graphy's primary use is in natal astrology, and therein lies the soul of Jim Lewis’s actual invention, and one which I don't believe anyone else can lay claim to. Jim was not the first to apply these maps to natal work, but he certainly was the first to develop a complete system of interpretation which integrated the standard birth chart and the world map of rising, setting and culminating lines, something which had not been done before. Thus, Jim was far from being a mere popularizer of someone else's invention, just as Duncan was far from being the inventor of the process of mapping planetary lines.

Jim, by the way, initially did his maps entirely by hand, carefully rendering each of the lines with the aid of drafting tools. Hundreds of these maps were sold to clients worldwide before the process was computerized for Jim by Gregg Howe of Astronumeric Service in the late 1970s.   Return to topic list

Brigadier Roy Firebrace and Astro*Carto*Graphy

Question: I have read that Astro*Carto*Graphy was actually invented by Roy Firebrace, an English astrologer, who published the first maps of this type in his journal Spica. Is this true?

Answer: There is no reason to think so, given the references offered to support this contention. In fact, most mentions of Firebrace in this regard don't even provide publication references at all, and only occasionally provide fuzzy dates. The only detailed reference to Firebrace publishing such a map I've ever seen is a note in J. Lee Lehman's article "The Influence of Relocation: A Baseball Model" which mentions publication of a map in "Firebrace, Brigadier R.C. 'The Cancer Ingress.' Spica 1(1): 37-39." I was able to locate a copy of that early article (thanks go here to Ken Bowser), which actually appeared in Volume 1, Number 4 on the pages cited. This puts its publication close to five years after the American Astrology Digest with Bradley's first maps would have reached subscribers in both the U.S. and the the Autumn of 1957.

You will find the Firebrace article here in PDF form.

Until I see documentary information to the contrary, this is the way things stand:

- Bradley has priority for the technique of mapping the angularity lines of charted planets (i.e., all those included in a standard horoscope) in order to extend the scope of the chart beyond a single locality.
- Duncan has priority in producing computerized locality maps. According to Erlewine, the earliest publication of such a map by Duncan was in a 1966 Llewellyn annual, about eight years after Bradley's first publication of his hand-drawn maps.
- Fagan has priority for outlining how to apply the mapping technique to natal astrology, for use in locality work, in 1966. Bradley, Duncan and Firebrace had used these maps purely for mundane work.
- Lewis has priority for the development of an actual interpretive system.This is an important distinction, because what Jim did required substantial effort, and it included solving a variety of problems beyond how to plot lines on a map.

Firebrace, though a first-rate technical astrologer, seems to have been applying a technique developed elsewhere. Furthermore, he doesn't add anything to it, either technically or interpretively, beyond what Bradley did, so unless I can find documentation which either puts him earlier on the timeline or which shows him applying locality maps in a way not done by Fagan or Bradley, there is no reason to assign him any material role in the developments that preceded Astro*Carto*Graphy.  Return to topic list

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