The Constitutional referendum in Turkey 2017

The 16th of April 2017, the people of Turkey will vote on sweeping changes to their constitution giving their president unprecedented power. Proponents of the “yes” campaign, say the proposed “Turkish style” presidential system will ensure the country no longer risks having weak governments, and insist the stability will lead to a long period of prosperity. The Yes campaign of course is proposed and is backed by the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) Party of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (surprise surprise?)

Voting is taking place between 07:00 (7 a.m. – 0400GMT) and 16:00 (4 p.m. – 1300GMT) in Turkey’s eastern provinces of Adıyaman, Ağrı Artvin, Bingöl, Bitlis, Diyarbakır, Elazığ, Erzincan, Erzurum, Gaziantep, Giresun, Gümüşhane, Hakkari, Kars, Malatya, Kahramanmaraş, Mardin, Muş, Ordu, Rize, Siirt, Sivas, Trabzon, Tunceli, Şanlıurfa, Van, Bayburt, Batman, Şırnak, Ardahan, Iğdır, and Kilis. These provinces consist of 38% of the countries area but represents only 23% of the population.

For the rest of the country, ballot boxes opened at 8 a.m. (0500GMT) and people would be allowed to vote until 5 p.m. (1400GMT).

The reason for the time difference is that the sun rises and sets earlier in the east of the country than in the west.

I therefore have cast the chart for the opening of the polls at 07:00 but will use the capital as the location.

The Ascendant is 13° c 35’ (Taurus). Lady of the Ascendant is Venus (representing the people of the nation) in her exaltation Pisces in the 11th house; a very strong position being oriental and direct.

An interesting note is that the Midheaven falls in the 9th (the Law) and the moveable sign of Capricorn. The proposition being voted on of course is a change in the law! The 10th whole sign is Aquarius. Both the 10th by counting (Aquarius) and the 10th by division (Capricorn) are the signs ruled by Saturn. However Saturn in Sagittarius falls in aversion to its domicile in Capricorn. It is therefore a poor significator for the law. I would look rather to Mars in the Ascendant which is the exalted ruler of Capricorn and also sends his aspect co-present with the degree of the Midheaven in Capricorn.

Very simply in this chart, the lady of the Ascendant, Venus holds a partile aspect with Mars in her domicile, receiving him and pushing her dignity on to it. There is nothing that could have been a stronger “yes” in the chart. But there is a second testimony equally powerful. We see that the Moon (universal significator of the common people) joined to Saturn.

For better or for worse, it would be difficult for me to see how this chart could not be indicating anything other than a resounding yes vote for the Constitutional amendments.

 

13:25

16.04.2017

 

Addendum 14:11 by Steven Birchfield

One comment from  Behiye Kayran in Turkey was very significant, and that is that Venus has always been the significator of Islam. And we see it strongly receiving the constitutional amendments. On the other hand I just noticed in my chart that the Moon (common people) actually joins the Sun first (the opposition). However because the Sun falls in the the weakest part of the heavens in the 12th …. and the strength of Venus is more powerful and strong than that of the Moon I would have to say it is going to pass although it is clear there is a split between two divisions of the people…. those that are secular (the Moon) and the Islamist’s (Venus).

The Disaster of Flight 370 of Malaysia Airlines : A Traditional Astrological Approach

By John Timperman

It is about three years ago, on 8 March 2014 , that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a scheduled international passenger flight, almost miraculously disappeared when it was flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, to Beijing International Airport The aircraft, a Boeing 777 departed at 00:41. and last made voice contact with air traffic control at 01:19 MYT, when it flew over the South China Sea.

 Less than an hour after takeoff it disappeared from air traffic controllers’ radar screens at 01:22. Malaysian military radar continued to track the aircraft as it deviated westwards from its planned flight path and crossed the Malaysian Peninsula. It left the range of Malaysian military radar at 02:22 while over the Andaman Sea, 200 nautical miles (370 km) northwest of Penang. The multinational search effort for the missing aircraft was the largest and most expensive in aviation history. The Horoscope of take-off flight 370: Kuala Lumpur – March 8th, 2014 at 00:41 The chart of the take-off, and a picture of the sky is of particular interest: The first quarter moon is exactly at the Western horizon above the Fixed Star Aldebaran, one of the four Royal Stars. In the East, there is Antares, another Royal star which was, at take-off exactly conjunct the Ascendant. Both stars are distinctly Martian in character and traditionally presaged dangers of fatality, especially when they were in contact with the Moon.

Hydra, the water snake with the Alpha star Alphard is on the MC, which, GRUZ, traditionally is the indicator of the fate of the flight. The stars in the water snake were, in ancient astrology, indicators for difficulties or even tragedies that affect the sea and shipping.

Also of interest is the fact that the 8th of March, is the day that the constellation GRUZ, the Crane, with the Alpha star Alnair, at sunrise, heliacally rises at the Eastern Horizon above Malaysia. It also happened to be that. at take-off, this constellation was at the IC, the deepest place of the horoscope. The Crane is a bird that can reach very high altitudes and, when Alnair was with Mars, Ptolemy warned for falling from horses or from high altitudes. In this horoscope, here is no contact between Mars and the star but there is a paran of Alnair with two stars of a Martian temperament, Antares and Aldebaran.

It becomes even more interesting if we employ a Mesopotamian approach and project the chart onto the Babylonian astrolabe with its 36 decanates and rulers of the sky. The ascendant is in the decanate ruled by GIRTAB, or Isharra which, in Mesopotamian astrology, is the ruler of life and death. The sign of Scorpio itself is ruled by EA, one of three supreme gods that rule the world. The god AN rules the Sky, ENLIL everything between he Earth and the Sky, and finally EA, is the god that rules the oceans and the underworld. The planets Mars and Saturn are in a phase of morning station which is strengthening their malefic character.

In this case, although it may be a co-incidence, there is no denying that, at the very moment of take-off. there was a huge violent cocktail unfolding above the skies of Malaysian   Antares and Aldebaran are on the horizon. Hydra culminating and GRUZ on Nadir. The sky projected to the Babylonian astrolabe: 2nd decanate GIRTAB ( Isharra) rising and the sign of Scorpio ruled by EA, the Super god of the Oceans.

Astrology & Urbanism: the magical foundation of Baghdad

By Pablo Ianiszewski F. / Edited by P. James Clark

The battered city of Baghdad hides an astounding story of which few people are aware. The life of its busy streets has not always been accompanied by bombings and devastation. Its birth takes us back to t time when Magic was part of everyday life. Although its location was the site of several human settlements since the second millennium BC, the foundation of the city itself dates back to the 8th century.

Caliph Al-Mansur (714-775 AD), second ruler of the Abbasid dynasty, wanted to build a majestic capital for his reign, for the city of Damascus in Syria still had the memory of its former Umayyad rulers. It was thus that the new Caliph, after careful exploration of the region, decided to establish his capital to the east, in a splendid place bathed by the waters of the Tigris and protected by the shadow of date palms. But a good geographical location was not enough. In order to begin the work, he had to choose the right time by consideration of the influence of the stars to ensure long-term stability and strength of the city. That was how the magical founding of Baghdad was conceived.

The work was carried out by two reputed astrologers of the time, the Persian Naubakht Ahvazi and the Jew Mashallah ibn Athari. Both sages worked, along with a handful of students, in the long process of selecting a promising day and time to begin building the city. They made extensive calculations of celestial movements and positions, in an age where all operations had to be performed by hand. When searching for a suitable date in advance, they made use of their knowledge in Elective Astrology, that branch of celestial art in charge of choosing the most favorable astrological moments to successfully perform some important task. Used by the Babylonians for almost all civil and religious activity of a certain magnitude, the Caliph could not but use it for his great city. Like everything in this Hermetic science, astrological choices are based on the principle that the end is hidden in the beginning, so that the outcome of any enterprise depends on the quality of the time in which it began. Hence, with regard to the construction of a city, it is imperative to start the work at a duly selected moment.

While Mashallah and Naubakht sought the most suitable astrological moment, the latter’s family helped to design the city, drawing inspiration from the Sassanid capital of Gur, today Firuzabad, in Persia. They decided to give a circular shape to the floor, emulating the celestial vault and the movement of its luminous inhabitants, for just as the square represents the earth, the circle always evokes the sky. Circumference is the fundamental symbol of cycles, where time and motion are linked to the beginning and end of everything. It is the perfect figure par excellence, with its infinite sides equidistant from the invisible center, from which all possibilities of manifestation flow. In the circle we find the base of the oriental mandala, symbol of the universe and the graphic synthesis of the totality. A thousand years ago, the Baghdad plant was perfectly round for a compelling reason: it was thought to be a reflection of Heaven on Earth, bringing Paradise down.

It is speculated that the planimetry of the city may have been expressly designed to shape the celestial order by the arrangement of palaces, mosques and other public buildings, reflecting in the earth the positions of the stars for the day of its foundation. The idea of organizing the layout of the buildings according to an astronomical pattern was not new for the time. The Egyptians had already disposed much of their buildings following a scheme of celestial imitation, as the engineer and researcher Robert Bauval demonstrated in the 1990s. Although this type of thesis is not easy to prove, it is not crazy either, although it tends to raise bitter controversies with the most orthodox archaeologists and historians. In any case, the extension of the present city has more than surpassed the original circular plant, becoming a good example of this so typical modern disorder, a chaos in constant expansion that attends to nothing more than to demographic and economic pressures. In the 8th century, you can imagine, archetypal principles were attended that, by elevation, reflect a harmony and beauty that we have lost in our crowded and alienating cities.

And what day did the astrologers choose to found the city? In order to answer this it is inevitable to complicate matters a little and resort to the technical language of astrology. The chronicle recorded by the Persian mathematician and astrologer Al-Biruni indicates that the work began sometime on Saturday, July 31, 762, but he does not mention the time to lift the horoscope, as the astral chart does not have the cusps pointed out. However, knowing the rules of the art, it is possible to find the exact time and restore the angles of the figure. Given this, the team of astrologers could only have chosen 14:40 local time for the meridian of Baghdad. At that moment Jupiter was highly strengthened in his regency and term of Sagittarius, in hayz and stationary before turning direct, located right on the Ascendant. These factors are providential for traditional astrology, announcing political stability, economic prosperity, development of science and the arts, promotion of education, as well as justice, tolerance and cultural diversity. The astral chart in question was correctly found by the linguist and astrologer James H. Holden, to whom we owe the magnificent work “A History of Horoscopic Astrology”.

Unfortunately the Moon, which is fundamental in every elective chart, is peregrine, void of course and in via combusta on the horoscope of Baghdad, but the astrologers probably tried to mitigate these afflictions with two mutual receptions to Venus and Saturn, sadly not very effective because their lack of aspect, and a beneficial applicative trine to the Part of Fortune. However, we must remember that no astrological choice is perfect. Due to the great complexity of the firmament, it is inevitable that some negative factors will develop. Mars, the planet of war, opposes Jupiter and the Ascendant from the Seventh House, which among other things governs enemies. No wonder then that Baghdad was besieged and ravaged by the invasion of the Mongols under Hulagu Khan in 1258. The hordes of the steppes were brutal, killing most of its inhabitants and burning the city. In 1401 it was destroyed again by Timur, and in the following centuries had to endure the invasions of the Ottoman Turks.

It is ironic from a modern perspectice, that the round city of Baghdad was formerly known as Madinat as-Salam, the City of Peace. What is not taken into account is that the Abbasid capital was the jewel of civilization, knowledge and culture for half a millennium. The well-known Caliph Harun al-Rashid, great-grandson of Al-Mansur and fifth in line of succession in the dynasty, was who, next to its son and successor Al-Ma’mun, raised in the city the House of Wisdom (Bait Al-Hikmah), the most important center of studies of the time, with an extraordinary library where hundreds of translations were made to render the Greek philosophers into Arabic, along with the rishis of India, the wise men of Egypt and the Magicians of Persia. It was a kind of emulator of the great library of Alexandria in the heart of Iraq. Alchemy, chemistry, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, botany, zoology, geography and cartography were developed. Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Euclid, Hippocrates, Galen, Charaka, Sushruta, Aryabhata and Brahmagupta were translated, among many others. There worked the greatest scholars of the Middle East, such as the mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, the philosopher and polymath Al-Kindi, the renowned doctor Hunayn ibn Ishaq and the astrologer Thabit ibn Qurra. It was the golden age of Islam. In the House of Wisdom, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sabeans and Zoroastrians met, leaving aside all their sectarian differences, joining forces in the pursuit of knowledge.

Baghdad was the richest city in the world and the intellectual beacon of its time. It came to have more than one million inhabitants, being the most populated city of its time. The stories of The Thousand and One Nights were told in its streets, while the song of the muezzin was heard from the minaret of the mosques, which rivaled in beauty with the walls of Babylon or the Mausoleum of Helicarnassus. In their observatories the movement of the stars were measured, in their taverns mystical poetry was recited, while in their gardens politics, philosophy and theology were discussed with the sound of the lute and the nay flutes behind. Let us not forget either that it is precisely in this same region of the globe that civilization itself arose, where writing, wheel, brick, agriculture, sailing, gardens, even the notion of city was invented. Iraq is the very cradle of science, religion and culture. The plunder and destruction of this long war, now transferred to the tribal and sectarian realm, has caused an irreparable loss for humanity. There are thousands of archaeological pieces that have disappeared in the midst of the war, fundamental parts of the history of humanity, not to mention the atrocities that have had to suffer the people of the country. The hordes of Mars are back, this time with bullets, drones and explosives. On the other side, religious fanaticism boils explosively, contributing to the destruction But Baghdad will rise again, as it has done many times in the past, or at least we hope so.

Babylonian Planetary Periods & Mundane Astrology

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By John Timperman

 

PLANETARY PERIODS IN MUNDANE ASTROLOGY

From the time of the Greek dominance of astrology, we commonly find references to planetary periods. In later times the Hellenistic astrologers and the Arabs used different systems of planetary periods such as “Zodiacal releasing ” and “Firdaria.” but these are systems that have nothing to do with the original model of Mesopotamia.

The authentic planetary periods are based on the heliacal phases of the different planets. The calculations of the astrologers of Babylon were based on the tropical solar year and are repetitions of a specific heliacal cycle in all its details.

THE PROPER HELIACAL PERIODS

A Babylonian Planetary period is the time period after which an exact period of a given heliacal cycle takes place.

Venus, for instance, has a short heliacal period of 8 years minus 2 days. This means that if Venus shows up today in the east in her morning the first phase , then after 8 years less 2 days she will show up again in Morning First, at the exact spot in the sky, same magnitude, same fixed stars background, etc

These heliacal periods of the planets can be of different duration. There are 4 kinds of periods; short, medium, long and giant. Different planets have different sets of them. Venus has only 2 periods; small of 8 years and a giant of 6400 years. Saturn has, according to the Babylonians, only a long period of 59 years and a giant one of 589 years.

GLOBAL HELIACAL PERIODSThis table shows us how we can calculate the periods of a planet and come to know when a planet is ” released ” and when its effect is then maximized.

The procedure is as follows:

GLOBAL HELIACAL PERIODS

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This table shows us how we can calculate the periods of a planet and come to know when a planet is ” released ” and when its effect is then maximized.

the heliacal rise. We see in the above table that the period of Mars is 15-47-79 years which means for this person that 40 days after birth and after every 15-47-79 years the planet is again activated.

This procedure is simply based on the principles put into practice by the astrologer-priests of Mesopotamia:

If someone is born when a certain celestial SIGN was in the sky THEN the significance of this SIGN will come to fulfillment WHEN that same sign is seen AGAIN in the sky.We can apply this system in genethical astrology as I explained in another article, but it is by all means also of interest in Mundane astrology.

When we look at some important events in the US we come across the following data :

July 21 1861- first battle in the American civil war

December 6 1941 Pearl Harbor

September 11 2001 Twin towers terrorist attack

June 12 2016 Orlando massacre

Between the beginning of the Civil War and the Pearl Harbor attack there is exactly 79 years and 6 months which is very close to the long planetary period of Mars. Mars is a planet which is particularly strong in the chart of the US as the planet rises a couple of days after July 4th.

When we look up ( K. Schoch planet- tables, Berlin 1927) when Mars was heliacally rising before the beginning of the Civil War ( July 21st 1861) we come to September 22 1859 which is exactly one year and 10 months before the beginning of the war . This happened with the 9th degree of Virgo and it was also the day of the heliacal rise of Zosma, a martial star in the back of Leo.

When we advance 79 years ( Mars period) and want to know when Mars is rising at about the same degree we see in the tables that this happens at September 25th 1938. When we now move ahead one year and 10 months we arrive in July 1941 : some 4 months before the attack on Pearl Harbor ! It may be interesting to point here that if we go 79 years further we arriving at September 27 2017. So, this means that ,according to this system, in about one year and 10 months mars could be activated again.

When we proceed and also investigate the time between Pearl Harbor ( December 12 1941 ) and September 11 2001 there is exactly 59 year and 9 months. This is around the long cycle of Saturn which we have to examine.

In 1941 Saturn rose heliacally around June 11th at 22° Taurus and some 6 months later there was the attack at Pearl Harbor which incited the US to declare war with Japan and Germany.

It was at the end of January that the Americans stroke back for the first time and attacked the Marshall Islands from the USS enterprise.

The solar chart for 1942, the year that America entered the war at full scale is particularly interesting : Saturn is at 8° Gemini and makes an exact conjunction with the ascendant of the horoscope of the US. We must not forget that at 8° Gemini there is the fixed star Aldebaran whose character is very martial and very important since she is heliacally rising in the chart of the U S.

Solar horoscope US: July 4th, 1942

59 years later – 2001-( heliacal period of Saturn) Saturn is thus rising at the same place and ,in the solar chart we then see Saturn again at 8° Gemini. Two months later America faced the tragedy of 9/11.

Solar horoscope US : July 4th 2001

It is ,for that matter, also interesting to look at the period of time between the tragedy of 9/11 and the shootout in Orlando which happened in June 2016 and which was exactly 15 years.

We come back to the cycle of the short period of Mars. It was approximately  September 6th in 2000 that Mars rose at the 22nd degree of Leo. Exactly one year and a couple of days later there was the terrorist attack on the twin towers.

It was the 23rd of August 2015 that,15 years later Mars was again heliacally rising close to the 10th degree of Leo. About 10 months later, on June 12th 2016 , there was the terrible shootout in Orlando.

For closing, something totally different, but also pertinent to the subject of planetary periods. Consider the Wall street Crash of 1929 also known as Black Tuesday ( October 29) or the Stock Market Crash of 1929 began on October 24, 1929. It was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States.

79 years later in October 2008( the long period of Mars) the investment bank “Lehman Brothers ” filed for bankruptcy and lead the US and the rest of the world into an unseen financial and economic crisis.

When we look to where Mars rose before October 1929 we come to January 30th 1928 where Mars rises together with the 8th degree of Capricorn. This is 1 year and 9 months before “Black Tuesday”

79 years later, on February 14th 2007, Mars rises again, this time at the 21st degree of Capricorn. It is 1 year and 7 months later , in October 2008, that the US faces another huge financial crises.

So we can say that this system of planetary periods and their parameters, once the most important factors to be considered in astrological prognosis, still has merits, although sadly ,it has almost been completely forgotten by contemporary astrologers.

Al-Kindi – The Transmission of Greek Metaphysics to Islamic Theology

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A blog post on someone of the stature of al-Kindi can scarcely do him justice; but it can serve as an introduction to this extraordinary man as well as the transmission and absorption of Greek texts into Islamic theology. It is also my hope that al-Kindi will regain his former prominence among the many other Islamic contributors to human knowledge and to astrology in particular. His cosmology is essentially simple and I believe answers to many of the on-going discussion on the nature of fate and free-will.

To understand how al-Kindi’s mind works, his study of  The religion, philosophy, literature, geography, chronology of India is a good place to start. He’s is infinitely curious and readily absorbs the philosophy and weighs the values of other very different nations. I have placed the complete work in two volumes in the file section. Familiarity with al-Kindi breeds content. He stands as an essential figure of the Islamic Golden Age. It was tolerance, acceptance and inclusiveness that created the Age – not a rigid xenophobia.  It came about by a respect of other cultures and a willingness to work with them.

Abu Yusuf Ya‘qub ibn Ishaq Al-Kindi (ca. 800–870 CE) was the first self-identified philosopher in the Islamic and specifically Arabic tradition. His work with a group of scholars and translators, in what became known as the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, gave to the Arab world the works of Aristotle, the Neo-Platonists, and Greek mathematicians and scientists.  He did not appear to demonstrate the rigid distinctions between Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy that became the bugbear of later European philosophers. This in itself was no mean feat, but Al Kindi seemed to instinctively know what was of a similar nature and what was not.. al-Kindi’s own thought was suffused with Neo-Platonism, though his main authority in philosophical matters was Aristotle.

The Semitic or Abrahamic religions are less replete with metaphysical codes, but have what is more properly called cosmological ones, when compared for example, with the seemingly endless metaphysical systems of Hinduism. This is also true when those same texts are compared to the Platonic tradition, including the sophisticated and exquisite vision written down by Plotinus. It applied as well to the philosophy of Aristotle. It was to the latter than Al-Kindi first became transfixed. The distinction between Metaphysics, Cosmology and Ontology can at times become blurred of intermingled. To invite them into Islamic thought is not for the careless or faint of heart .

Al-Kindi is often referred to as the Arab’s philosopher. As has happened to so many great minds throughout history, the investigation of the most cherished ideas had lead to suspicions of heterodoxy. The word ‘heterodoxy’ is a convenient catch-all phrase that can be leveled at those who disagree, have some doubts or simply see the nature of reality through a different lens.In this respect, the story of Al-Kindi has contemporary relevance, with particular regard to the understanding of the nature of astrology. The contemporary Traditional astrologer will feel pretty much at home in Al-Kindi’s cosmology.

The new lens of Greek Philosophy provided Al Kindi with a means by which the Theology and Cosmology of the Quran, resulted in a highly significant shift in Astrological thought. By the time of Al-Ghazali, Islamic Philosophy and with it the Golden Age of was eclipsed by a literalist pessimism that has persisted to this day. What was at one time a naturally accepted element of Islam became heavily suspect. It is important to note, however, that Al-Kindi fell short of the view that the universe must be infinite.  It could have lead to his alienation at best and a death sentence at worst, as it did in a later period for Giordano Bruno.

The deep fear of infinity has historically put restrictions on the subject. Perhaps the fear of infinity is no more than the fear that our prescribed limits might prove to be no more than mind-forged manacles, as W. Blake so keenly understood. Limits are an important element in Islam: in general more so than either of the other Abrahamic religions. In the Islamic afterlife, it is made clear that there are no limits. Lastly, I believe infinity is ‘reserved’ for God on this side of the grave.  Philosophers throughout history have always needed to be adept at avoiding stepping on theological toes.

There are no precise parallels to the non-Islamic world on this matter, but the pseudo-prophetic Savonarola lead to a very similar shift, and in fact to a rapid decline in the creativity, tolerance, syncretism and ebullient optimism of Renaissance Florence.

Even Pico della Mirandola succumbed to the dogmatic position that what isn’t a particularly privileged form of Christianity, must be the work of the Devil. I’m certain that many great thinkers were frankly terrified at the speed in which the obscure monk, Savonarola, could turn Florence into a city full of mad people with proverbial pitchforks and literal torches.

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al-ghazali

The contempt and paranoia regarding the new learning was epitomized by the en mass burning of books and works o art, including works by Michelangelo. These were considered the vanities, in the biblical sense o the word and the burning of all these things was called the bonfire of the vanities, a term that survives to this day. This episode in Western history shall forever remain a reminder of how quickly great elements of civilizations can be destroyed by supernatural fears, that even otherwise rational people can fall prey.

In Islam, as in other Middle Eastern and Asian cultures there existed a very different sense of time. It was circular or spiral, but never linear. From the Greeks and developed to a fine science was the Prime Mover – one who is not acted upon – to the participation of the Prime Mover through secondary causes. This lends itself perfectly to Astrology. It means, among other things, that the Stars can easily become the agents of Providence, without diminishing the First Cause.

This was not to be the position of Al Ghazali. There was no room in his thinking for such niceties.  There was one cause and one cause only, no secondary powers could be entertained because they amounted to shirk – the attribution of partners to Allah.

Al-Kindi’s own treatises, many of them personal letters, were addressed to the family o the Caliph, who depended on his translations just as the Medic family would rely on Marsilo Ficino. Core texts included the Theology of Aristotle and Book of Causes along with Arabic versions of Plotinus and Proclus. This textual alchemy was fomented at the political and philosophical core of Islam.

Al-Kindi’s philosophical treatises also include On First Philosophy, in which he argues that the world is not eternal and that God is a simple One. This needs to be understood in the context of an Islamic thinker attempting reconciliation with Greek philosophy. The reality of Tawheed is the first principal in Muslim belief.  It is to believe that Allah alone is the ‘Rabb’ -Creator, Provider and Sustainer (note the identical attributes within Hinduism and elsewhere). He has no partner and needs no partner. To suggest that HE does is the greatest blasphemy in Islam.

Allah alone has the power to determine destiny, and He alone is truly Self-Sufficient (As-Samad) upon whom all the creation depends, as He says: “Allah created all things and He is the Wakeel (Trustee, Disposer of affairs, Guardian) of all things. “To Him belong the keys of the Heavens and the earth. He (Allah) enlarges and restricts provisions to whomever He Wills. Surely, He has Knowledge of everything. See Surah az-Zumar (39): 62. and Surah ash-Shoorah (42): 12. The guidance of the stars is a theme repeated many times in the Qu’ran, but often dismissed as something else.

The key difference from a modern point of view is not whether or not Aristotle was a monotheist.  For all intents and purposes he was . But it would be more accurate to call him a Deist, rather than a Theist. It may seem a fine point and it doesn’t seem to have deterred al Kindi, if in fact he truly appreciated the distinction. The Primum Mobile easily translates to Creator.

al-Kindi’s work in mathematics and other sciences was impressive and became known in both the later Arabic and Latin traditions for his positions on astrology, along with Averroes.

Arab scholar working diligently in the House of Wisdom. (Artist Unknown).

Arab scholar working diligently in the House of Wisdom. (Artist Unknown).

al-Kindi’s claims for astrology commit him to the idea that a wide range of specific events can be predicted on the basis of astral causation. His doctrine of providence goes further by “implying that all events in the lower world are caused by the stars, which are carrying out the benign “command” of God. This doctrine is set out in On the Prostration of the Outermost Sphere” ( Abu Rida 1950, 244–261, Rashed and Jolivet 1998, 177–99) and On the Proximate Agent Cause of Generation and Corruption (Abu Rida 1950, 214–237).

In al-Kindi’s system and, I would suggest, in the Qu’ran itselff, the heavens are possessed of souls who freely follow God’s command so as to move in such a way that the providentially intended sublunary things and events will come about.

This, according to al-Kindi, is what the Qu’ran refers to when it says that the stars “prostrate” themselves before God. In Proximate Agent Cause, meanwhile, al-Kindi gives a more detailed account of the means by which the heavens cause things in the lower world (here he invokes friction, not rays). The most obvious effect of the stars on our world is of course the seasons, because the sun (due to its size and proximity) is the heavenly body with the most powerful effect. If there were no such heavenly causation, according to al-Kindi, the elements would never have combined at all, and the lower realm would consist of four spheres of unmixed earth, water, air and fire.

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al-Kindi’s account of astral causation and providence is typical of his philosophical method. He combines and builds on ideas from Aristotle, later Greek philosophers, as well as so-called “scientific” figures such as Ptolemy. In his work “Prostration” he provides a rational explanation of central concepts in Islam. His explanation of the meaning o the stars prostrating themselves shows a keen interest in going beyond syncretism to a more enlightened reading of the Qu’ran. Al-Kindi appears to have been certain that once his more enlightened colleagues are exposed to his presentations of Greek wisdom, they will

agree that these non-Arabic and non-Muslim texts can be used —together with “Arabic” disciplines like grammar — in the service of a more profound understanding of Islam. These are heady claims and not ones ultimately shared by Al-Ghazali and his followers. Nevertheless, there existed what could be called an Al-Kindian tradition long ater his passing.  This current flourished in the tenth century, which is most obviously represented by the first and second generations of al-Kindi’s. followers.

Musicians_and_their_instruments Topkapi Palace Museum Library, H. 2164.

Musicians and instruments Topkapi Palace Museum Library H. 2164.

al Kindi ‘s advanced contributions to Musicology seem like a natural and intrinsic progression of his cosmology.Al-Kindi’s optimism on this score was not necessarily borne out in subsequent generations. But among thinkers influenced by al-Kindi, one can discern a continuing tendency to harmonize “foreign” philosophy with the “indigenous” developments of Muslim culture. This is one feature of what might be called the “Kindian tradition,” an intellectual current that runs up through the tenth century, which is most obviously represented by first and second generation students of al-Kindi’s.

In a world off ‘what ifs’ it is clear that the position of Al Kindi and like minded philosophers would have developed into a more universally tolerant Islam and one in which the reading of the stars was not confused with the worship of them. Today, we have weather forecasts that seem to be false more often than not, but I cannot imagine any sane person considering meteorology as shirk. Reading the sign of nature is something we do all the time, from the practice off horticulture to the study of the biological origins of life and indeed the universe itself.  https://youtu.be/cse4uDqj_w8

Isra and Mi’raj in the Zubdat-al Tawarikh

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Celestial map, signs of the Zodiac and lunar mansions in the Zubdat-al Tawarikh, dedicated to the Ottoman Sultan Murad III in 1583

First and foremost, I’m fascinated that a book on the natural world is prefaced with a painting of how that world is both sustained and came into being. The visual arts and astrology have long been inseparable.  The earliest star-lore was depicted visually in Sumer and far back into the Paleolithic period. The movements of the Heavens has always been of great importance and one picture really can be worth a thousand words when it comes to explaining Cosmologies.

Today, what we call history is not prefaced with a primary reference to the mystical creation. This makes these works most intriguing because they offer us a window into a mostly forgotten, but essential cosmologies. That is because we live in what we think is a linear, largely material reality. Other cultures, including the Turks, believed that time unfolded in spirals.

Most importantly, we no longer live with the concept of divine origin. Traditional Astrology is very much aware of this reality The image contains an enormous amount of information. Most fundamentally, we have circles within circles At the centre is the source. Next, the seven planets and luminaries are shown in their orbits following the Chaldean order. Beyond the orbit of Saturn have the realm of the Fixed Stars and it appears that the artist has chosen to place the zodiac beyond the black circle.

The theme and to some extent the style was probably inspired by an earlier work the Catalan Atlas by Cresques Abraham and his son Jehuda. It’s a fine work that predates Zubdat al Tawarikh by

Cosmographical diagram od Earth personified by an astronomer holding an astrolabe center of the Universe surrounded by concentric circles representing the four elements the seven planets the spheres and their personification - mid 14th C.

The Catalan Atlas. Cosmographical diagram od Earth personified by an astronomer holding an astrolabe at the center of the Universe surrounded by concentric circles representing the four elements the seven planets the spheres and their personification – mid 14th C.

two centuries. The Catalan Atlas is fairly accurate works of geography with astrological, cosmological plates such as the one below. There is a strikingly lovely page showing the signs and zodiacs as well  It will readily be seen that the Atlas lacks the lavish illustrations, the astrological detail and the strongly mystical representation of the natural world, including the heavens, working in harmony.

The seven planets and luminaries are shown in their orbits following the Chaldean order in a spiral. Beyond the orbit of Saturn, we have the realm of the Fixed Stars and it appears that the artist has chosen to place the zodiac beyond the black circle.

What makes this a particularly fine work, is that it includes the Decans in relation to Lunar Phases as well as the twenty-eight Lunar Mansions, with Angels guarding the Four Directions.

Miniature painting of a parade of two riding-gaz veterans from umelia in front of sultanmurat-iii-from-the-surname hmayun 16th century ce

Miniature painting of a parade of two riding-gaz veterans from umelia in front of sultanmurat-iii-from-the-surname hmayun 16th century ce

Miniature painting of a parade of two riding Gazi – Veterans from Rumelia – in front of Sultan Murat III from the Surname i hümayun 16th century CE

Although the style is very much Turkish and Islamic in style, it is entirely recognizable as what has become known as the Ptolemaic Universe, The relationship between this cosmology and the Night Journey of Muhammad will become clear.

Muhamad’s Night Journey is in Sura Al Nisra of the Quran and further embellished in the Hadiths It’s controversial these days. Many modern Muslims consider this to be a literal event that occurred at a particularly time and place.  – The Prophet rides on Buraq to Jerusalem where he ascends to meet the various Prophets from what is now known as the  Dome of the Rock.

Muhammad travels the seven heavens on Buraq

Muhammad travels the seven heavens on Buraq

The mystical version has is that the Prophet rose through levels of consciousness. In either case, there is an ascent of Seven spheres, an essential theme that has repeated over and over again. In Ayat 11 we have the following exhortation “And We have made the night and day two signs, and We erased the sign of the night and made the sign of the day visible that you may seek bounty from your Lord and may know the number of years and the account [of time]. And everything We have set out in detail.”

This and other passages in the Quran support astrology as a guide to the wise. The usual context is in ‘to show the way’ which clearly refers to the use of stars in navigation but also implies other uses, such as choosing the correct time for an event,, medical diagnosis military matters and affairs of State.  If this were not the case, Islam would have had no cause to compose the type of artwork that we see here, or produce some of the finest astrologers in the Middle Ages and beyond.

The exhortations against astrology are most specifically related to attempting to know such things as the time of the last day and the resurrection. This is the prerogative of the Creator. Common fortune telling won’t find any more support in the Quran as it does in the Bible. Indeed, many sects of Christianity regard astrology as forbidden. In much of my work I have tried to show the massive difference in intent, method and applications of divination compared to the disreputable and unwise world of fortune telling.

Portrait of Humayun, posthumously painted c. 1700 He was an avid astrologer.

Portrait of Humayun, posthumously painted c. 1700 He was an avid astrologer.

Imagine for a moment that you visit your physician and she tells you that you have a serious illness and may not have long to live. That physician has just made a prognostication based on medical knowledge. This could be construed as prediction and in fact it is. When a skilled astrologer reads a chart it for many of the same reason a medical professional might be consulted. Questions about physical, spiritual and mental health can and are addressed by competent astrologers.  Likewise, you might be concerned about making a choice between two or more things. The astrologer won’t make the choice for you, but they can offer very valuable information

Likewise, you might be concerned about making a choice between two or more things. The astrologer won’t make the choice for you, but they can offer very valuable information  There is time to seed and a time to reap. One of the greatest uses of astrology are, as far as I’m concerned, is in the medical field. Knowing your humour, the strengths and weakness you have are all sound applications of  the Celestial Science. If you read scripture carefully, you will not find thes4e applications of astrology to be forbidden.

Makhzan al-Asrār by Niẓāmīمخزن الاسرار Folio 3v The Prophet on Burāq

Makhzan al-Asrār by Niẓāmīمخزن الاسرار Folio 3v The Prophet on Burāq

Above, we what is essentially the sane theme found in the previous paintings, but with a a slight twist. This Persian Sufi painting describes the Night Journey of the Prophet. This work is far more complex than first meets the eye. The painting has deteriorated, but we can still see the planets, represented anthropomorphically. The Sun and Moon are represented as disks. occupying the first and fourth sphere, as per the Chaldea order. We can also see the constellations, but they are projected in such as a way that we have the illusion of looking through the spheres. Remember that this is illustrating Muhammad’s mystical Night Journey.

Returning to the Quranic position on astrology, let’s examine a few more quotations. There is a Sura in the Quran known as Buruj, an Arabic word meaning ‘Constellation’ or ‘Zodiac sign’. Surah Buruj is the 85th Surah in the Quran. The starting of the Surah is : “I swear by the sky where there are buruj…” (i.e Allah swears by th sky where are  zodiac signs.)

“I have created buruj  [Zodiac signs] in the sky and decorated them for viewers and I have also protected them from evils…” (Surah Hizr 16)

Prophet Muhammad-Miraj Isra

Prophet Muhammad-Miraj Isra

“How great he is, who has created buruj in the sky and placed the Sun and shining Moon over there…” (Surah Furkan 61 )

In Arabic Astrology, we find that the sign Leo is named ‘Asad Buruj’. ‘Asad’ means a lion thus the Arabic name of Leo, which is represented by a lion, is ‘Asad Buruj’. Similarly, Libra is named, ‘Meejan Buruj’. The Arabic word ‘Meejan’ means a balance.

The emphasis on the creation of constellations, given the context we have, does nothing to indicate that a study of the same is somehow haram.

Finally, we can take a brief survey of some of Islam’s most esteemed astrologer. Most are surprised to find that the poet Omar Khayyam of Khorasan was an accomplished astrologer(1019-1135)  He was so accurate in his predictions that he even understood about his own death. This isn’t exactly the same as knowing the time of his death but points to a deep understanding of the art.  Many will be familiar with Sahl Ibn Bishr, Al Kindi, Ibn Arabi, Al Biruni and others.

However, I think the crown should go to Ibn Sina (980-1037) He was brilliant Muslim scientist who developed Alchemy. He was also very much devoted to astronomy and astrology, but other than his prolific philosophical works his contributions to medicine are immeasurable. His massive pharmacopeia is still in use among medical astrologers and natural healers.

This may seem trivial to some, but we have a great deal at stake worldwide. Literalist Fundamentalism is not compatible with peace and has the effect of numbing the mind. The golden age of Islam did not flourish because of  a stricter adherence to Shariah, as is commonly thought by contemporary Muslims, but because it was a period of openness, serious study of Classical antiquity and a willingness to work with people of divergent faiths and ethnicities.

Constellations & The Primordial Zodiac I

 

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If you’ve ever been to a planetarium, the chances are the presenter took ten minutes or so to heap scorn on the ignorant ancients who must have been smoking and drinking powerful drugs in order to see things like goats or virgins in the night sky. This is usually intended as the first blow against the “completely unfounded” science of astrology. The intended knock out punch is the reference to the Precession of the Equinox which means those Sun Sign columns in the tabloids offer a contrived system that ignores precession.

The idea is very simple and easy to grasp.  The sign that was rising at the Vernal Equinox has moved back almost one whole sign since their alignment. This means that what are called Sun Sign Geminis are actually Taurus – except of course they are not. Our astrology is seasonal in its basis, just as it was for the ancients. The critics of the zodiac based on Precession are missing the point.  Nevertheless, this is lost on astronomers. For them, these things are conclusive proof that astrology and its adherents are delusional and primitive minded. The irony of being called “primitive minded” has not been missed; nevertheless who can blame them for their views in the absence of coherent apologetics?

Authentic astrologers would agree on pretty much all counts but come to a very different conclusion. I’m not aware of a true astrologer who isn’t well aware of the phenomenon of the Precession. I would be the first to agree that the appearance of constellations has precious little, if anything, to do with their names. This is where things become really interesting and is the reason I chose the word “primordial” as part of the title advisedly.This is the first in an intended series of articles on this theme. This first part can be little more than a sketch. It serves as an introduction.

It has become all but impossible for many to view a clear a night sky with little or no light pollution. It cannot be overstated that this has changed us to a very large extent. It is now common to find people who cannot identify a single constellation or star. Anyone in or close to large city see almost no stars or perhaps none at all. The best viewing experience I’ve had was in a desert area of British Columbia, on a small mountain away from any artificial light and no Moon.  At first, the brilliance of countless stars are such that it is difficult to find constellations amongst them until the eyes get used to it. The simple connecting of dots yields little or nothing, In the Middle East, particularly under very arid conditions, it is said that one feels that one may reach out and touch the stars. They seemed very close indeed and quite obviously significant.

I would like to take some stars and constellations as examples, questioning the asterisms and looking to alternate, more ancient ways of relating to the heavens.

Antares is a bright orange star, It is among the clearest stars and easy to find if the skies are clear and you know where to look. It is in the centre of the neighbourhood of Scorpio and, with our preconceived conception of the Scorpion, we join the dots.

That’s how its supposed to work, but the image below showing Scorpius, probably as clearly as it can be viewed almost anywhere, doesn’t particularly look like a Scorpion. It could just as easily be an angel, a rabbit, a buffalo or a river. Both photos are included here with the kind permission of David Malin.

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© 2008 Akira Fujii/David Malin Images

Here is the same section of the sky with constellation lines drawn in. Drawing the ecliptic further helps to provide orientation.

Sco_2_www_cImage and text ©2008 Akira Fujii David Malin

© 2008 Akira Fujii/David Malin Images

Even with the lines drawn, it still takes a great deal of imagination to see the constellation as a scorpion rather than anything else.  Unfortunately for the scathing astronomer at the planetarium, that is simply not how the constellations came to be, The situation is of course compounded by the simple fact that different cultures give different names to the same asterisms. Strictly speaking, there are no constellations until we decide that a given asterism has boundaries and significance and visa versa –  One might say a constellation is a projection of an archetype.

Enkienki walks out of the water to the land. The lion symbol of Zoroaster Age of-Leo

Enkienki walks out of the water to the land. The lion symbol of Zoroaster Age of-Leo

Gavin White has produced three illuminating works on ancient Babylonian star lore that challenge later interpretations. I have consulted Babylonian Star-Lore : an Illustrated Guide to the Star-Lore and Constellations of Ancient Babylonia (2008) and his The Queen of Heaven   I have also consulted The Heavenly Writing by Francesca Rochberg, The Epic of Gilgamesh (Gardner and Maier 1984 ed.)  Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth (Wolkstein & Kramer 1983  The Babylonians (HWH Saggs ] Cambridge UP) and The British Museum.

White tells us that: “In astrology the Scorpion’s armoured body segments and its array of weaponry predisposed it to become a creature symbolizing war and the martial prowess of the king. However a different meaning is attached to it in mythic texts such as the Gilgamesh Epic where Scorpion-men and women guard the sacred mountain through which the hero has traverse on his quest for immortality. The Scorpion-people are said to guard the sun at his rising and setting and because Gilgamesh is a favourite of the sun god they allow him to travel the subterranean path that the sun travels every night under the mountain.” (all references to Gavin White’s The Queen of Heaven  A New Interpretation of the Goddess in Ancient Near Eastern Art’ by Gavin White can be found on the publisher’s web site).

untitledThis detail is from a kudurru, or boundary stone, showing Gula with feathery crown attached to her conical headdress and a scorpion-man.

Gula with feathery crown attached to her conical headdress and a Scorpion-Man.

However, the form of the Scorpion People of the Sumerian and Babylonian constellation is utterly morphed. “The Scorpion People were powerful servants of the sun god Utu (Shamash). They had a human head, arms and torso but were bird-like below the waist (sometimes with human legs, sometimes bird) and a scorpion’s tail. The people of Mesopotamia invoked the Scorpion People as figures of powerful protection against evil and the forces of chaos. In The Epic of Gilgamesh the Scorpion couple, Scorpion Man and Scorpion Woman, guard the great Gate of the Mountain where the sun rises and are described as `terrifying.” (Gavin White – Queen of Heaven.)

There is a strong need  to understand the Babylonian view on its own terms, to the extent that that is possible. Williams writes: “In Babylonian mythology scorpion men were the children of Tiamat, the dragon mother of the universe.
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Tiamat, the dragon mother of the universe

They were giants whose heads touched the sky. They possessed the head, arms, and torso of a man; but below the waist they had the tails of scorpions. Deadly warriors, they could fight either with their scorpion tails or their bows and arrows which never missed their targets. They were the sacred guardians of the sun god Shamash. In the morning they opened the gates of the Mountain of the East and Shamash ascended into the sky. At night they shut the gates of the Mountain of the West as Shamash descended into the underworld. Gilgamesh, the great Babylonian hero, was aided by a scorpion man in his quest for immortality.”  (Michael Williams.  Encyclopaedia Mythica)

The most easily recognized constellations in the Northern Hemisphere are the Circumpolar Ursa Minor and Ursa Major followed by Orion, mostly because of the several brilliant stars, including Betelgeuse, Rigel and Bellatrix. However none of these are part of the zodiac. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been highly significant in different cultures throughout history,

untitledEnki and the fishes Fishes are often represented swimming up the flow of waters that descend from Enkis shoulders On the left the symbol of the sun

Enki and the fishes Fishes are swimming up the flow of waters that descend from Enkis shoulders On the left is the the symbol of the sun

The constellations have two primary points of reference. The first is particularly referring to the circumpolar stars. The second which has the most immediate importance is the temporal. This is a simple case of a season matching an asterism which is then circumscribed and named.  So for example, Aquarius the Water Bearer rose during the rainy season of late winter and early Spring. But Pisces is now in that temporal place, while Aquarius is rising in the cold but dry season. And how, we may well ask, does Pisces represent either late winter or early spring. What do fish have to do with the season? It takes an exceedingly vivid and guided imagination to translate the asterism to embody two fishes tied together and pulling in different directions for eternity. The same is true of most of the zodiacal asterisms.

Sumerian image, we see both mer-people and priests dressed in fish-skin capes at the sacred tree

Sumerian image, we see both mer-people and priests dressed in fish-skin capes at the sacred tree

However, when we look to Pisces as a temporal reference, the time of year of great floods, other significance can be found. Like Anunitum, the Fish symbolizes the season of flooding, which commences in the early spring. “Like other creatures of the Abyss, fish were thought to be symbols of wisdom and were accordingly held sacred to Enki, the god of creative intelligence, incantations and magic.” (QoH)  The cord is indicative of the two rivers flowing into the sea. This isn’t how Pisces is represented today and before the end of the epoch prior to 500 B.C. much, but by no means all, had already been lost.

 Seven Tablets of Creation.

The Kudurru – Seven Tablets of Creation. (left to right) Venus of the goddess Ishtar, lunar crescent of the moon-god Sin, and the solar disk of Shamash , the Sun god). The serpent is a Tiamat, ( Akkadian for “sea,”)

Of course some zodia are deceptively simple.
They make sense due to the Season in the Northern Hemisphere; Leo is probably as good an example as any.  The Lion has been seen by cultures everywhere as the “king of the beasts” courageous and Solar – why not reign in the hottest and driest part of the year.

White tells us: “Lion (Leo) The Lion has two main strands of symbolism. Firstly as a seasonal star it represents the ferocious heat of summer – its radiant mane stands for the overbearing radiance of the summer sun. Secondly, as the sacred beast of the war goddess Inanna-Ishtar, the Lion represents victory and war. The bright star at its breast (our Regulus) is known as the King Star – here representing the favourite of the goddess to whom she grants victory.” (QoN)

Our knowledge of Ancient History is poor, but great progress has been made even in the last two decades. It has become increasingly apparent that our classical Greek and Roman archetypes are in most cases pale shadows of their original significance. To get to the heart of the zodiac, we need to go back at least as far as Babylon.

Here we find a very different reality where the counterpart of Venus, for example, is the goddess of sexual love, fertility and warfare. The word “pretty” simply doesn’t apply to her. In fact, we have lost most of the archetypal origins of the zodiac and find ourselves trying to make sense of fragments of a powerful, elusive,  but clearly profound inheritance.

 

Winged gods - Sumer