Dobyns, Zipporah (1921-)

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Dobyns, Zipporah (1921-)

Zipporah Dobyns, Religious Science minister and astrologer, was born Zipporah Pottenger in Chicago, Illinois, on August 26, 1921. Set on a rather mundane trajectory, she attended the University of Chicago and received her B.A. in anthropology in 1944. She pursued graduate work in her field at both the University of Chicago and the University of Arizona. However, rather than launching a career as an anthropolo-gist, she married Henry F. Dobyns in 1948 and during the next eight years became the mother of four children. She and her husband separated in 1956, the same year she began the study of astrology with a teacher in the Church of Light using the material written by Elbert Benjamine (1882-1951).

A diligent student, she quickly mastered the material and established herself as a practicing astrologer. In 1960, the first time that professional exams were administered by the American Federation of Astrologers, she completed them successful-ly. She also changed her academic field and returned to the University of Arizona to complete both a master's (1966) and doctoral degree (1969) in clinical psychology. Along the way she had joined the United Church of Religious Science and was ordained as a minister in the church in 1968. In 1969 she moved to California to join the staff of the Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science.

Dobyns wrote her first astrology text, Evolution through the Zodiac, in 1964. However, it was in the 1970s that her work began to attract the attention of her colleagues. She became one of the principal voices urging the integration of astrology with psychology, a cause initially championed by Dane Rudhyar that began to bear fruit as psychologically trained astrologers such as Dobyns came on the scene. Dobyns' first major text in this area, Finding the Person in the Horoscope, appeared in 1973.

Dobyns also was among the first astrologers to make use of the wealth of new information coming out of the astrological community concerning asteroids, the majority of which are smaller planetoid bodies that swing in an orbit between Mars and Jupiter. Only discovered in the nineteenth century, the asteroid belt was not mentioned in traditional astrology, and only in the mid-twentieth century did astronomers begin to distinguish and name the large asteroids. In the early 1970s an initial ephemeris of the four major (and first discovered) asteroids (Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta) was published. Dobyns published a similar work in 1977. These books aroused interest in the four larger asteroids while raising the question of the significance of asteroids for the entire community. Dobyns attempted to answer the host of questions attendant upon the introduction of asteroids into the horoscope in her later book, Expanding Astrology's Universe (1983).

One of Dobyns' children, Martha Pottenger, continues Dobyns' work. Pottenger also obtained degrees in psychology and has authored a number of books built around a theme already present in her mother's writing, the use of astrology to map the psyche and thus illuminate the choices and options open to the client.


Dobyns, Zipporah. Evolution Through the Zodiac. LA: TIA Publications, 1964, 1972.

. Expanding Astrology's Universe. San Diego: Astro Computing, 1988.

. Finding the Person in the Horoscope. LA: TIA Publications, 1976.

, and Nancy Roof. The Astrologer's Casebook. LA: TIA Publications, 1973.