Written by: Jenny Roach
Edited by: Gabrielle S. Vasquez Bates and Adina Vega
What images come to mind when you hear the word astrology? Fortune cookies? Horoscopes in newspaper print? Someone hunched over crystal balls surrounded by a slew of crystals? It’s true that many regard the practice as steeped in superstition, pseudoscience, self-delusion, and—depending on who you’re talking to—evil. Whether you place any stock in astrology or not, the practice of divining insight from the heavens has been around for thousands of years. As one of the first attempts by humans to systematically understand the universe around them, it bears historical significance. It’s no wonder why the Astrological Association and its International Astrology Library (IAL) believe the ancient practice merits preserving.
Located in Newport, South Wales, United Kingdom, the IAL is divided into the Astrological Association Library and Archive and the Philip Graves Astrolearn Library. Philip M. Graves is a European astrological historian and archivist who has collected and curated over 9,000 volumes, books, and pamphlets as well as 14,000 individual issues of magazines, journals, and almanacs. The collection is multilingual and dates all the way back to the mid-sixteenth century up to the present day. Currently, the collection is maintained in a private house where tea and coffee are offered to visiting patrons.
One of the rooms in the house that contains the Astrological Association Library and Archive. The house was built in the early 1900’s.
The Astrological Association Library and Archive boasts their own international collection with artifacts written in languages as old as Akkadian (early Mesopotamia). Those wishing to conduct astrological research can find books, periodicals, and even data reference books—yes, the study of astrology uses data. Visitors to the website can download the full catalog for browsing and even find used antique ex-library books for sale. A full list of their collection of publications can be found on their website alongside multiple video tours and research services. By reaching out to Philip Graves himself, one can receive scanned works that are out of copyright and receive vital historical information.
Philip M. Graves shows off the library’s collection.
Whether a historian, researcher, astrologer, or simply just a curious individual, the IAL’s services are available to you. However, due to the delicate nature of many items, in-person visits have their own procedure. Nevertheless, the personalized nature of the services provided is truly something special in today’s modern world. So, if you’re ever in Newport, make an appointment, have some tea, and immerse yourself in one of the oldest spiritual practices in history.