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The Secret Language of Birthdays: Your Complete Personology Guide for Each Day of the Year Hardcover – October 20, 2003

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About the Author

Gary Goldschneider is an astrologer, composer, and musician.
Joost Elffers is the packaging genius behind Viking Studio's Secret Language series, Play with Your Food, and How Are You Peeling?. He lives in New York City.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Basis of Personology

If one considers astrology to be heaven-oriented, personology is earth-oriented. That is, the basic structure upon which per­sonology is built is that of the year as it is lived, and as far as we know has largely been lived here on earth. The rhythms of the year are mostly determined by the changes of the seasons themselves, along with the lengthening and shortening of the days and nights. Each year these solar changes are roughly the same. We are fixed to a wheel of life here on earth, whose motion dictates (in the northern hemisphere) that beginning with the winter solstice, around December 21, the shortest day and longest night, the days will get progressively longer and the nights shorter until the vernal or spring equinox is reached around March 21, at which point day and night will be equal. We call this season between solstice and equinox winter, expecting that only certain plants will grow, that some animals will sleep or hibernate while others grow a full coat to warm them against the biting winds. As the days grow longer in spring, highly varied forms of life begin to emerge culminating finally in the heat of the summer, beginning on the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, around June 21. With harvest comes the fall and again a period of equal day and night (fall equinox, around September 23). Finally the days grow shorter, the sun no longer rises high in the sky, and the world moves inside to prepare for winter once more. 

Thus, for personology, the four most important points of the year are the spring and fall equinoxes, and the summer and winter solstices. These points form a cross around which the wheel of the year revolves. Astrologically, these points do not fall in any of the twelve astrological signs, but rather between pairs of them: the spring equinox falls between the signs Pisces and Aries, the summer solstice between the signs Gemini and Cancer, the fall equinox between the signs Virgo and Libra, and the winter solstice between the signs Sagittarius and Capricorn. Each of these four areas corresponds to an astrological cusp. It may be said, then, that where astrology tends to emphasize the signs, personology tends to depend more on the cusps. Yet there is no real contradiction between the two-systems-only change of emphasis and point of view. The great psychologist C.G. Jung was fond of reminding us of the natural rhythms of nature and of the fact that certain plants, animals, even shapes and ideas come forth at specific times of the year. Similarly, it was no surprise to him that cer­tain types of people should be born at certain times of the year as well. Jung emphasized that man does not stand outside the natural order. 

Personology holds that not only are certain types of peo­ple born at various times of the year, as Jung or astrology might have predicted, but even specifically on certain days. Jung pointed out that each of us in the human family, regard­less of where we were born or how we live, carries with us a huge repository of symbols in a kind of collective or archetypal unconscious. The symbols of astrology itself, on the mandala of the zodiac, perhaps spring not only from the configurations suggested by the constellations in the heavens, but also from our own shared human archetypes.

By looking at the characteristics of many people born on a given day, and correlating what we know about them with basic principles of psychology and astrology, personology seeks to explore certain recurring ideas, actions, concepts and themes which those born on this day--now, in the historical past and in the future--are seemingly fated to encounter. 

A day is a year is a lifetime is an age

As stated, at the heart of the personology theory is an underly­ing cyclical orientation. Of the three areas of study most inti­mately involved in its formation--astrology, history, psycholo­gy--only astrology requires one to think cyclically, probably because of the great wheel of the zodiac itself which is based on the spatial metaphor of the three hundred and sixty degrees of the revolving heavens above us. History is often taught as if it proceeds in a straight-line-dates are presented to us like beads on a string that stretches from the indeterminate past to the unfathomable future. Yet Hegel in the nineteenth century presented a different view of history in which cycles and dialec­tics underlie dynamic, interactive systems (an argument against a straight-line approach). 

Astrology teaches, as does the Hindu theory of the great wheel of the ages, that we proceed from one two-thousand-year age to the next, crawling backwards around the zodiac with the precession of the equinoxes, until we reach the begin­ning once more. W.B. Yeats, the Irish poet and mystic believed that life proceeds in a spiral movement in which two gyres (conceived of as two cones joined at their tips by a common point) symbolize the rise and fall of mankind's development. His poem
The Second Coming begins: "Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the falcon cannot hear the falconer." The peregrinations of the falcon become a metaphor for the move­ment of history itself. 

In the same way that the medieval alchemists taught "As above--so below," the followers of George Gurgieff (such as Rodney Collin in his book,
The Theory of Celestial Influence), held that the cyclical revolutions of the electron around the atom (in the micro world of 1x10-10) relate to the revolutions of the planets around the sun (in the macro world of 1x10+10). At each step of the way, from the world of trillions to billions to millions to thousands to tens, or vice-versa, from the very small to the very large, revolves another world, and near the middle, the zero point, lies our world of everyday life. Newton's laws were mainly formulated for this near-zero-point world, but had to be modified as science examined increasingly larger (stellar) or smaller (microscopic) universes. 

Personology posits this central analogy: a day is a year is a lifetime is an age. It modifies conventional astrology in two ways--first in the empirical, earth-orientecl emphasis described above, and, second, in thinking about each sign as simply a fur­ther evolution of the one before it. In this way an astrological sign is really nothing absolute in itself but rather a spoke in the great wheel. Dane Rudhyar was the most important astrologer of our time to propose and clarify this idea. 

In order to explain an astrological sign in human, develop­mental terms, a complete cycle of the zodiac is taken to repre­sent an eighty-four-year human life (suggested by Uranus, whose cycle around the sun takes eighty-four years), and so a "life" can be divided into twelve equal seven-year segments. For example, Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, may be likened to the period from birth to seven years of age. A trip around the zodiac from Aries to Pisces, which is the format of
The Secret Language of Birthdays, becomes the cycle of the human life itself, from birth to death. 

Historically seen, we may be looking at a partial explana­tion for why similar personalities are born in different time periods under the same sign, cusp or on the same day. The cyclical unfolding of repetitive "incarnations"--much like Yeats's gyres-suggests a cettain personality type arising at a higher or lower level of the spiral, but always in the same loca­tion in any given year. 

In the area of psychology, Erik Erikson modified Freud's more static ideas of developmental stages (oral, anal, phallic) into a more human format which defined a stage dynamically (for example, trust vs. mistrust) in his seminal work Childhood and Society. Yet, until about twenty years ago, most psycholo­gists concentrated principally on childhood as the time of development, neglecting middle and old age. Only the Rosicrucians gave equal emphasis to all the periods of man's life, from the youngest to the oldest. 

The increasingly holistic and humanistic view of psycholo­gy is at last beginning to prevail in our time. Abraham Maslow, to whom this book is partially dedicated, believed that every human being must continuously evolve throughout life to ever higher stages, and that getting stuck, refusing or being unable to progress further, is a true living death. Maslow insisted, throughout his life, that every human being must strive to be the very best person he or she is capable of being. 

Thus, bringing astrology, history and psychology together in concentric cycles or spirals--stressing evolutionary rather than static models for the individual--is at the heart of person­ology. The personality types presented under the twelve signs, forty-eight periods and three hundred and sixty-six days (including the leap year extra clay) are flexible and fluid, each evolving from one to the next, constantly in motion, constantly changing, rather than fixed in stone.


The birthdays presented in this book were gathered from many sources. Not infrequently, these sources disagreed about the day of birth of a given individual, and in these cases a consen­sus of five or six sources was sought. In the course of collecting birthdays, one often finds repeated errors due to the same fac­tors, i.e., the day is correct but the month has been incorrectly copied, or perhaps the day itself is noted mistakenly as 8 instead of 18, or 2 instead of 21. Sometimes the death day is given instead of the birthday, or perhaps the researcher has confused two individuals with the same or similar names. 

Birthdays can be slippery customers indeed. In the enter­tainment field, for example, it was not uncommon for PR per­sons to give out Christmas or July 4 as a birthday in an attempt to make their client more attractive. (Louis Armstrong's is not included in
The Secret Language of Birthdays because his birth­day is unknown [yet many works go along with listing it as July 4]. Dante and other notables are also excluded for the same reason.) In fact, one might ask, how do we know what any­body's birthday really is? Although we were all undoubtedly present at our birth, we may have as little idea about what day we were really born on as anyone else. 

As far as birthday collecting goes, birth records or certifi­cates have been traditionally accepted as proof of date and place of birth in the twentieth century. Yet in many European countries, such as Italy, a birth record was usually not regis­tered until some days after the birth and the date could easily be off by one day, at least. Going back to the nineteenth, eigh­teenth or seventeenth centuries, and earlier, things become even more uncertain, since it was often the baptismal day which was record­ed rather than the birthday. 

Thankfully, it is often the case that a mother remembers a specific event that happened that day or which preceded the onset of labor, and not uncommonly the birthday of a first or second child is indelibly etched into her memory. Also, fathers may recall a work or news event linked to that day. These events can be checked, and so the birthday ascertained. 

However, it is also undeniable that some people have hidden their real birthday and adopted another one. One example of this is Katherine Hepburn, who perhaps wanted to cultivate the image of a Scorpio--the studios gave out November 8 as her birthday. In truth, Hepburn was born on May 12, a fact which she ultimately acknowledged at the begin­ning of her autobiography. Although Marcello Mastroianni insists that his birth was registered two days late, September 28 is still accepted as his birthdate. 

A further complication is encountered due to the length of the year itself. The historical ramifications of the inability of man to exactly measure this length have been appalling. The trouble began when Julius Caesar, advised by a Greek astronomer, established the Julian Calendar, based on the assumption that the year was exactly three hundred and sixty ­five and one-quarter days long, and that all we had to do was add an extra day every fourth year. This was discovered to be wrong by none other than the Venerable Bede (a medieval English historian) who announced to the world in the eighth century that the Julian year was eleven minutes and fourteen seconds too long. However, it was not until the sixteenth centu­ry that due notice was taken of this fact by Pope Gregory, whose experts had determined that the accumulated error of the Julian calendar amounted by that time to about ten days. Consequently, in 1582, Gregory decreed that the day which fol­lowed October 4, 1582, would not be October 5 but rather October 15. In this way he felt the problem would be solved. In addition, so that future generations would have nothing to worry about, he also decreed that leap years of three hundred and sixty-six days would be observed every fourth year,
except in years ending with 00 (the century years), in which case only those century years which could be divid­ed evenly by four hundred would be leap years (thus, 1900 was not a leap year but the year 2000 will be). 

Although Gregory seemed to have solved the problem, a snake lurks in the grass for birthday gath­erers, since only those Catholic countries under the influence of Rome (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Luxembourg) immediately followed his lead. The Protestant countries (or parts of countries in the case of Holland or Germany) made the change at different times thereafter. The biggest problem, how­ever, rests with British birthdays, since the British did not go along with the proposal until 1752. Of course, a British old style (OS, Julian) birthday from the seventeenth centwy can be con­ve1ted with certainty to a new style one (NS, Gregorian) by sim­ply adding ten days. However, which birthday should be used for a seventeenth century British figure like John Milton--­December 19 (NS) or December 9 (OS)? And furthermore, what do we do about those figures like George Washington in whose lifetime the changeover took place? Should Washington's birth­day be observed on February 11 (OS) or February 22 (NS)? 

For the sake of clarity, the following rules have been adopted in
The Secret Language of Birthdays birthday lists. OS birthdays are used in antiquity, and for those Europeans who died before the changeover took place to NS. Although astrologers disagree with this approach, arguing that April 3, 1421, was really April 12, 1421, it is this book's contention that the date of birth should be the one both accepted by govern­ment decree and celebrated by that individual at that time. In the special case of a small number of universal figures and astrologers, such as Nostradamus, who were aware of the dif­ference or seem to have transcended their time, birthdays are given NS. Thus all historical birthdays are for the most part pre­sented as OS until the change from OS to NS took place in that countty. British seventeenth century birthdays are thus OS even though other countries were ten days ahead. 

In the case of those British or American subjects, like Washington, born such that the 1752 date fell in the first thirty or so years of their lives, the NS birthday is generally used, since most of them changed their birthdays and observed the new date at the time of the calendar change. 

The final complication, that of nineteenth century Russians (Russia did not change over until the 1917 revolution), is met in the following way: nineteenth and twentieth centrny birthdays are given NS, since virtually the entire rest of the "civilized" world was operating on the new calendar system. Thus, Tchaikovsky's birthday is always given as May 7, although he was actually born twelve days earlier, Russian OS time, on April 25. 


Because the birthday list for each day of
The Secret Language of Birthdays is limited to twenty entries, some notables had to be left out of the book. The three primary criteria used to order notables on each of the lists were: importance (especially with­in a field), popularity and how the person fit the day. The ordering of the lists is, of course, highly subjective. 

An effort has been made to include as many women nota­bles as possible. However, many women are unavailable in sources such as Who's Who?, various encyclopedias and other historical reference works that supply birthdays, and when they are, their birthdays are sometimes omitted. Also, most of these standard references, though much improved in recent years, still offer a lack of information regarding non-Western peoples. 

The birthday data have been gathered from a wide range of professions and activities, from antiquity to the present. Music, writing, media, politics, sports, science, philosophy, the fine arts and adventure all figure prominently.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Avery; Illustrated edition (October 20, 2003)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 832 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0670032611
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0670032617
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 14 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 8.77 x 1.74 x 11.29 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 7,733 ratings

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Gary Goldschneider (b. May 22, 1939) is a bestselling author of personology and astrology books. Gary grew up in Philadelphia and now lives in Amsterdam. He is an active concert pianist and composer in addition to being a world renowned astrologer and personologist. To learn more about his Personology system visit his website To read about his life and thoughts visit his other websites and

Gary has now begun to publish his literary works on Amazon Kindle. Beginning with his short stories, Hearts, he proceeded to follow it with the first book of his autobiography, Wunderkind: Chronicles of an American Childhood.

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