Eclipse – Battle of Isandlewana

The Battle-of-Islanhlwan by Charles Edwin-Fripp

The Battle of Islandlwana on January 22, 1879, was the direst defeat of the British Army against any indigenous people in the Empire and it occurred at what might be considered the zenith of British power during what has become known as the Zulu Wars. This battle has been of great interest to military strategists and historians. I’ll be looking at this through the eyes of an astrologer.

Although they eventually realized that they were massively outnumbered, the British forces were confident. The battle had not been expected and in fact, the British also had 1500 oxen with them, presumably for settlers – certainly not what one takes to war. British forces had never encountered what was now bearing down upon them with unimaginable force.

They were well trained and seasoned soldiers, numbering 1800, including British, colonial and native forces. They also had approximately 400 civilians with them. They were using state of the art weapons and under the able command of Lt. Lord Chelmsford.

Of primary interest were the much-prized Martini-Henry rifles, equipped with bayonets. This was the first time it had been used in combat and it turned out that it had a flaw when used repeatedly for long periods of time. They tended to overheat, making reloading more difficult. It is unlikely that this would have been a problem in other battles. As well, the rocket battery was not mounted and became increasingly useless as the battle unfolded.

The effective firing range of Martini-Henry rifle was 400 yds or 370 m. I emphasize this because the range of sight needed to allow for this ability. This may seem obvious, but at the time the soldiers had no real doubts of being able to hold back the massive Zulu assault.

The army of 20,000 Zulus had no bows, horses or wheels for that matter. What they had were spears and clubs. According to the grandson of the Zulu chief, the warriors were given a variety of drugs that made them fearless, bloodthirsty and in fact visionary. At one point in the battle, the Zulus saw “strange birds” coming for them which they believed were evil spirits conjured by the British.

I have not found an exact, reliable time for the beginning of the battle, but it was close to Noon. The real problem came a couple of hours later. We do know there was a Solar Eclipse that sealed the fate of the British. From the blinding early afternoon Sun, there was a darkness, made worse by the excessive smoke and dust . This was at 2.00 PM LMT

The approaching Zulus became invisible long enough to advance well within the rifle’s range and therefore too close for the army to have the advantage of being able to shoot the approaching Zulus before they were close enough for arm to arm combat, an enormous disadvantage to the British. The fact that the Zulus were unflinching suggests their shaman had predicted the eclipse. I have not found any evidence that this particular eclipse was known to the British soldiers in advance of the event.

The Zulu soon breached the perimeters and were virtually face to face with the British before they could see what was coming at them.. The Zulu used a traditional formation known as the “horns of the bull.” The idea was to encircle and destroy the enemy. The motif of the bull and cattle is quite evident and it’s difficult to ignore the relationship to the Ascendant,

These were the days when armies wore brilliant colours proudly, rather than using camouflage. Yes, there were ambushes, but we cannot call this the age of stealth. Yet non-visibility is what won the day.

The Ascendant is the life force and this chart gives us a highly afflicted Taurus Ascendant. Along with the Part of Fortune, it is in tight conjunction with the highly malefic Fixed Star know as Algol. It has a reputation for making one lose one’s head, either figuratively or literally, and is associated with piled-up corpses.  The Ascendant is disposited by Venus, in turn, disposited by Saturn, She is Peregrine and Under the Beams. Saturn is in a weak sign in the Eleventh House, denying help from military associates and friends in general. Moreover, Saturn is Almuten of the chart and Venus is the Killing Planet.

Saturn in Halb can also be said to be Lord of the Eclipse, as he disposits both luminaries and both benefics. It doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to suggest the Zulu association with the Tenth House Sun, as they are in effect eclipsed and maintain the high ground, retaining their sovereignty,serpens

The *enemy* is in the martial and stealthy sign of Scorpio, ruled by Mars, out of sect in the Eighth House of Death and dispositing the Twelfth House – all in all, a nasty piece of work in the context of the chart as a whole.  The Lord of the Eighth House is Jupiter, suggesting many dead.  Mars is conjunct Ras Alhague, the star in the head of the Serpent-charmer (Orphiucus), the Moorish El Hauwe.

Pliny said that it occasioned much mortality by poisoning. This constellation has also been called Aesculapius and held to rule medicines. By the Kabalists, it is associated with the Hebrew letter Oin and the 16th Tarot Trump “The Lightning-Struck Tower”. [Robson*, p.54.] It also has another role – that of a Shamanic Healer. The considerable participation of the shamanic priests shouldn’t be underestimated. From the concoctions given to the warriors to the healings during the battle. They evoked a powerful force that made the Zulus fight as one and without fear.

Given the inescapable association of the British with the Lion, I cannot but associate the Leo S. Node as the ‘end of the matter’ in the Fourth House. This can be taken as both the Lion defeated as well as resurgent. The Zulus won the battle but decidedly lost the war.

Back to the Past

This article was recently recovered by P. James Clark on Google Drive. It was
written by me in August 2017, 4.5 years ago. 

Here you have what I wrote at that time:

Cosmology by John Augustus Knapp (1853-1938) – Public Domain

“Thoughts expressed by Pablo Ianiszewski F. here on ISCA prompted me to write after a long silence because I had been busy writing my last book.

I have raised a few points which, even if they were not true, are most certainly worth discussing.

In my ancient studies of astrology, I tended to see the planets as the primary causation of the facts. The malefic planets caused harm, the benefics, benefits.

But after years, I have approached a non-causal, but synchronistic view of the facts. The understanding of this synchronicity, if it can be sought in the celestial configuration, will not occur because the planets caused harm or blessings on earth.

I would like to point out that I agree with my colleague Pablo Ianiszewsky that excess of heat or cold is not conducive to the development of life. This is not under discussion. Probably the fact that some planets are more distant from the Sun, the creator of life, led the astrologers to divide them in their basic characteristics. The more distant from the Sun, the more maleficient the planets turn out. Jupiter is an exception, probably because it has an affinity with Sagittarius which makes a trigon with the Sun, the diurnal luminary, and with Pisces that makes a sextile with the Moon, the nocturnal light. The mix of aspects with luminaries added to the distance of the Sun must have influenced the ancients in their classifications also in hot, cold, wet and dry.

Finally, this ground raises many questions that I do not want to discuss here, but what perhaps may be quite interesting is to have in mind that such classification depends on the human view of the elements and that it changes culturally, as we can see in the Eastern philosophy in which the elements wood or metal are also considered.

What I would like to bring about in these few lines is that the intrinsic planetary essence goes far beyond the earth and that we know nothing about the planets, which are beings, each of them has their own inscrutable cosmic purpose and must seek it far beyond the pettiness of our little world.

My view is that we, as human inhabitants of this part of the universe, the earth, embedded in one of the hundreds of galaxies, depend essentially on the Sun, the principle of all life. So we tend to classify the visible planets according to the effect they cause to us.

I remember that Alchabitius saw Saturn esoterically as the first planet to which all the others follow. He says that Saturn is the first to operate on conception after the shedding of semen in the womb, contracting and unifying the matter with which the being is formed. Also in the Poimandres, it is said that the soul descends through the celestial spheres. Rudolf Steiner followed more or less this tone when he explained that the soul comes from the universe and creates the skeleton through Saturn, until arriving at Venus that beautifies the flesh and finnally reaches the Moon, rounding of the forms, shortly before the birth.

Much is supposed, but nothing is known for certain of the planets and their intrinsic nature.

I have more and more the impression that the planets are not concerned with events on earth, but with their interplanetary relationships.

I have raised the hypothesis that the chaotic or harmonic events that we experience have to do with the way the planets treat each other.

Evil derives from the evil form as one planet deals with the other in a specific quadrature, and this is reflected in the life on earth, in a specular way, as in the entire universe.

For example, if Mars attacks Jupiter, without mutual reception and especially being in a higher position, that is, considering the primary movement, events will happen according to the nature of both, but the massacre will be especially bloody for everything that represents justice.

If things go the other way, and Jupiter is in a position above Mars, the result would be the victory over criminals, crushed by justice.

By this I mean that a square, just to name a kind of aspect, has a different meaning if one planet has a superior position to the other. This explains the fact that there are squares that come to good and others that come to evil.

Even the trigons, an aspect of friendship, in a case where a malefic makes aspect, can have a paltry result if the malefic is in a superior position.

I will provide an example of this – something that in my country, when our president, visibly suspected of criminality, was released by the court to follow his mandate, instead of suffering an impeachment.

Let me explain: Jupiter in Libra occupied in the 7th house, Libra when the Sun entered in Cancer and Saturn, the ruler of the MC was cadent and in retrogradation, occupying the 9th house.

Jupiter was then in an inferior position to Saturn and was direct, whereas Saturn also approached to Jupiter, for being retrograde. Faced with this relationship between the two, one planet in the sign of the other, Jupiter for regency and Saturn for exaltation, I predicted at the beginning of the third quarter of the year that the president would be supported.

In fact, he, Saturn, ruler of Midheaven, constrained the law, Jupiter, which weighed against him, and Jupiter obtained favours and facilities, in the generous manner of the sign of Sagittarius, which Jupiter rules.

Had the position of the planets been changed the result would be different.

But the result suffered in the country was neither bad nor good from a universal point of view.

In this way, duality, in my humble opinion, is only one facet of ONE and the same thing, that “thing” that the human mind does not reach and which in its smallness calls good or evil.

Clelia Romano, September 2017

Meditations on Phoebus

by Maria J. Mateus

A comparison of sun deities of the Mediterranean and Near East may give us deeper insights into antiquity’s understanding of what it meant to be under the influence of the solar light.

Anatolian Imports

It is thought that Apollo may have been imported into Dorian and Minoan tribes from a Syro-Hittite cult in western Anatolia, as his name closely resembles that of the Luwian god, Apaliunas, on whom the Etruscan god, Apulu was also based. Apaliunas appears as one of the named deities guaranteeing a 13th century BCE treaty between Hittite and Trojan kings.1 This practice of signing treaties and contracts under a solar deity is one that is seen frequently in the Near East and Mediterranean over several centuries, as other solar deities of the Hellenistic age seem also to have had something to do with contracts, oaths and treaties. Apaliunas’ name also appears as one of three deities named on the walls of Troy itself, which was enough to inspire Homer to cast his Apollon on the side of the Trojans in the Iliad.

In the Hittite kingdom’s religion, which had influences from Mesopotamia, but still retained many of its Indo-European characteristics, we find a solar deity named Istanu (or Tiwaz in the Luwian language). As we’ll find in other Near Eastern sun gods, he’s a god of judgment, normally depicted wearing a winged sun on his headdress and carrying a crooked staff.

The following is a Hittite Hymn to Istanu: 2

O Istanu, my lord, just lord of judgment, king of heaven and earth! You alone rule the lands. 
And the boundaries you alone set; you alone give strength, to [the land] you give life.
You alone are just, you alone have mercy, you alone fulfill prayers.
You are a Sun-god of mercy, you always have mercy.
The just person is dear to you alone, and you alone value him. 
Istanu, fully grown son (of) Ningal, your beard (is) of lapis lazuli. 
Behold! The child of mankind, your servant, has bowed to you, is speaking to you:
In the circumference of heaven and earth, Istanu, you alone (are) the source of light. 
O Istanu, mighty king, son (of) Ningal, you alone establish custom and law in the lands. 
O Istanu, mighty king, among the gods you alone are established.
Strong lordship is given to you.
You (are) the just lord of government, you (are) father and mother of the lands!
When Istanu rises up early through the sky, your light alone, Istanu's, enters all the upper and lower lands,
(and) decides the case of the dog and the pig.
And the case of animals who do not speak with their mouth, that too he (Istanu) decides.
'The case of the bad and evil man you alone decide, 
and the man whom the gods scorn, (whom) they reject, him you reconsider and show mercy.
And this your mortal servant, Istanu, sustain, 
(and when) he begins offering bread and beer to Istanu; him, your just servant, Istanu, take by the hand.

We note from this hymn several significant characteristics about Istanu. First, he is above all, a “just lord of judgment”, not to be confused with a law-establishing deity such as Marduk. Istanu, like the Mesopotamian solar deities, judges and decides the fate of those who are to be shown favor as well as those who have defiled the established order. He is a champion of the lowly, and considers “the case of the man whom the gods scorn” and “shows him mercy”. He is the giver of life and strength. He takes the downtrodden and lifts them up, takes his servants by the hand, offers them bread and beer, and guides them on their path…

We also note that Istanu is the son of the goddess Ningal, the same deity who gives birth to Utu, the Sun god of Sumer. She was the consort of the male Moon good Nanna, and both were worshipped in southern Mesopotamia and in Harran, a major religious center in northern Syria. Not only is Istanu’s foreign lineage directly given in this hymn, but the hymn itself is remarkably similar in style and content to those dedicated to the solar deities of Mesopotamia.

Utu and Shamash in Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia is the birthplace of an astral religion that develops into a complex form of astrology. There, the planets and gods are one and the same. Unlike Greece, here an existing pantheon did not lend its names to the planets, which were perceived to be divinely possessed by their powers. Instead, the planets were deities themselves and part of the Assembly of the Gods that met regularly as a court of law, and who had the authority to elect or depose public officials, including the King.3 Thus, Utu was not ‘the star of the Sun’ but was in fact, the Sun itself.

His image is a personification of the shining light of the Sun, which brings forth life on earth. He is described as “long-armed”, since his influence is far-reaching, and he’s typically depicted wearing a horned hat and sporting a beard, although he is also frequently described as “youthful Utu”. In the morning, he’s believed to emerge from the doors of heaven located between two mountains to the east, then journey across the sky during the day, and enter the ‘interior of heaven’ through a second set of doors to the west at dusk. Presumably, the arched pruning-saw with serrated teeth that he carries is used to cut his way through these passages. He had two temples called ‘E-babbar’ or ‘White House’. One was located in the Sumerian city of Larsa, the other to the north in Akkadian Sippar.

This placement of solar temples both to the north and south of Sumeria is significant and tied to the Sun’s seasonal movement north and south along the eastern horizon over the course of the year. This journey of the Sun essentially divided the year into two seasons, one of growing light when Utu was traversing the northern lands and one of growing darkness, when Utu traveled in the south. The Babylonian preoccupation with balance is illustrated by the ritual practice that took place during the solstice months (IV and X) of exchanging priestesses from the temple of Esagil (House-of-the-Daytime) in the north, with those from the temple of Ezida (House-of-the-Night).4 This was thought to balance the fact that at the start of the summer, the nights are shorter and require the daughters of Esagil to go to Ezida, while in the winter, the reverse was desired.

An examination of a Hymn to Shamash — Utu’s Akkadian name — makes the Sun’s geographical scope even more clearly connected to one of his roles in society.5

You climb the mountains surveying the earth,
You suspend from the heavens the circle of the lands. 
You care for all the peoples of the lands, 
And everything that Ea, king of counselors, had created is entrusted to you.
Whatever has breath you shepherd without exception, 
You are keeper in upper and lower regions.
Regularly and without cease you traverse the heavens,
Every day you pass over the broad earth...
Shepherd of that beneath, keeper of that above,
You Shamash, direct, you are the light of everything.[...]
Of all the lands of varied speech,
You know their plans, you scan their way.
The whole of mankind bows to you,
Shamash, the whole of the universe longs for your light...[21-52]

The ability of Shamash’s rays to cover all of the known world make him truly an international deity capable of ‘caring for all the peoples of the lands’. It is for this reason that Shamash is often linked to travelers, as is explicitly related in the list of those who seek his protection:

Shamash, there confronts you the caravan, those journeying in fear.
The traveling merchant, the agent who is carrying capital. [138-139]

No other story exemplifies better Shamash’s role as personal guide to those on journey than the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh. In it, Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, and his friend Enkidu decide to make a trip to the Cedar Forest to seek their fame. They are accompanied throughout their long journey through distant lands by Shamash, whose main role is as their protector. It is to him that they pray when they are fearful and in need of guidance. But because Shamash also spends half of his time in the Underworld at night, he is also protector of those about to travel below the earth. This is exemplified in the stories involving Dumuzi, the shepherd-king and his betrothed Inanna, the goddess of love and Utu’s sister. When an impudent Inanna sentences her lover to the Underworld for his neglect of her danger, Dumuzi appeals to his future brother-in-law Utu, for his protection from the demons that seek to imprison him below.

The two examples point not only to the Sun god’s role as protector and guide, but they point to his particular affinity with shepherd-kings, whose responsibility in Mesopotamia, it is to protect and guide their citizens, or “earthly flock”. Scholars have described Gilgamesh as a solar hero, and there are many reasons for this classification, not the least of which is his lineage, which makes him the son of the nomad shepherd king Lugalbanda. Like the story, which calls Gilagmesh’s city, ‘Uruk, the Sheepfold’, the hymn to Shamash also describes him as a ‘shepherd without exception.’

The metaphor extends to Shamash’s cosmic role of as divine shepherd. The astrological treatise, the Enuma Anu Enlil says:

The road (KASKAL) of the Sun at the end (šēpīt = foot)of the cattle-pen (TÙR) is the path of Ea (šūt Ea); the road of the Sun at the middle (mišil) of the cattle pen is the path of Anu; the road of the Sun at the beginning (SAG = head) of the cattle-pen is the path of Enlil.6

Reiner and Pingree interpret the ‘cattle-pen’ as the equatorially bound region along the eastern horizon – stretching from the northeast at the summer solstice to the southeast at the winter solstice – over which the Sun is seen to rise. The metaphor of the Sun’s path as a cattle-pen and the planets as wild oxen moving within this region is alluded to in tablets that refer to Utu or Šamaš as “shepherd of the land,” and where, says Samuel Kramer, “the ‘little ones’, the stars, are scattered about him like grain while the ‘big ones,’ perhaps the planets, walk about him like ‘wild oxen’.”7 Thus, as divine shepherd, it is Shamash’s role to designate the boundaries inside of which the planets are themselves permitted to travel. It is for this astronomical reason that in the myth called “Enki and the World Order”, we are told that Utu is placed in charge of both earthly and heavenly boundaries.8 It is curious that although the Sun did not ever occupy the head of the Babylonian pantheon, his cult became increasingly important at the same time as astrological developments begin to accelerate sometime after the 8th century BCE.

Just like his Anatolian counterpart, the most salient of Shamash’s functions is as judge and guardian of justice:

You give the unscrupulous judge experience of fetters,
Him who accepts a present and lets justice miscarry you make bear his punishment.
As for him who declines the present but nevertheless takes the part of the weak,
It is pleasing to Shamash, and he will prolong his life...[...]
You hear and examine them; you determine the lawsuit of the wronged.
Every single person is entrusted to your hands...[97-128]

As judge and protector of the law, it is under his vigilance that contracts and agreements are made and upheld. This chief role of solar deities is maintained well into the late Roman Empire where we find Roman soldiers swearing oaths in the name of Mithras, the Persian sun god.

Lastly, the Hymn to Shamash alludes to one final role for the solar king: that of seer and grantor of omens.

You manage their omens; that which is perplexing you make plain.[...]
You grant revelations, Shamash, to the families of men,
Your harsh face and fierce light you give to them...
The heavens are not enough as the vessel in which you gaze,
The sum of the lands is inadequate as a seer’s bowl...[129-155]

It is the light afforded by him that enlightens and gives clarity. We find a similar divinatory function displayed by Apollo, the Greek Sun God.

Apollon in Greece

There are actually two deities associated with the Sun in the Greek mythological literature: Helios, who personifies the actual Sun and Apollo, who represents the solar light, as well as having multiple other functions. Helios is the Sun who rises from a swamp in the East, rides in his chariot pulled by white winged horses, and sets to the West in the ocean in the Hesperides.

Like Shamash who sees all, Helios is said by Pindar to be: ‘the god who plumbs all hearts, the infallible, who neither mortals nor immortals can deceive either by action or in their most secret thoughts.’9 For Helios there are no secrets and it is he who tells Demeter of her daughter’s rape and abduction and who divulges Aphrodite’s adultery to Hephaestus.

However, unlike Shamash, Helios needs to seek out the king of gods in order to attain justice. This hierarchy is illustrated by an episode in Homer’s Odyssey, when his sacred horses are killed and eaten by Odysseus’ men and he must seek restitution from Zeus, rather than act directly. His sacred sanctuary is at Rhodes where a giant statue of him (the Colossus of Rhodes) once straddled the harbor where ships sailed under his legs.

While Helios may have represented the actual Sun, he was not nearly as important a figure in the Olympian pantheon as was Apollo, the son of Zeus and second in importance, after his father. He was given dozens of epithets sometimes being called Phoebus‘the brilliant’, or Xanthus, ‘the fair’, or Chrysocomes ‘of the golden locks’,10 and like Utu, he represents the epitome of youthful masculinity. As the god representing the Sun’s beneficent rays, he was responsible for the growth of fruits and was protector of crops. Perhaps due to the Sun’s beneficent qualities, Apollo, like his son Asclepius, the god of medicine, was also given patronage over healing. In this capacity, Apollo was invoked in purification rites and healing oracles.

But just as the sun’s rays can be murderous, Apollo had the power to cause sudden death with his arrows and was also a god of plague. It is not uncommon to find plague and disease associated with extreme heat in deities of the western Levant and Anatolia. An old form of Apollo’s name is a verb meaning ‘to destroy’.11 Like his sister Artemis, his bow and arrows also point to his role as god of hunting and he is sometimes associated with a stag or roe or pictured with lions.

In the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, we read that “at birth he said: ‘Dear to me shall be the lyre and bow, and in oracles I shall reveal to men the inexorable will of Zeus.’ As god of music, it is no surprise then that song and dance are signs of his presence and that he is often depicted playing a lyre constructed and given to him by his brother Hermes.

Similar to Shamash, one of Apollo’s functions is to grant the gift of prophecy and divination. He was especially invoked at Delphi by the Pythia, a priestess who entered into a trance to make her pronouncements. One of his most well-known stories involves the slaying of the Serpent Python, whose place of death consecrated the sacred site at Delphi where the Oracle was established in his name. The Homeric hymn to Apollon may be divided into two parts: one that takes place in Delos, and involves his mother Leto’s delivery of the god, and the other in Delphi, which involves his journey to establish cult centers all over the Greek islands culminating with Delphi. It has been noted by Charles Penglase, who draws on many parallels between this hymn and the Mesopotamian myths involving the cult of the shepherd Dumuzi, that both sections of the Homeric hymn involve several journeys:

“These journey sequences and activities in them express many ideas about the god, but as in Mesopotamian myths, where they are also central features, they are employed to establish and express the god’s power.”12

Again, the same motif of the journey we saw in the Epic of Gilgamesh, are present in this and countless other stories involving solar heroes and deities.

Sol Invictus in Rome

the Sun’s favor among the Greeks did not go unnoticed by the Romans, who not only adopted Apollo as one of their own, but transformed his religious significance into a handy instrument to legitimate political power during the unsettled years of the late Empire. As deliverer of Augustus’ victory at Actium, Apollo soon gave way to Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, who would be adopted as protector of the state and official state religion by Emperor Aurelian. However, the cult of the Sun went through various stages of transformation from the early Republic to its disappearance after the reign of Constantine and the conversion to Christianity—but not without some syncretization between the two religions. In Rome, there was an ancient indigenous cult to the Sun, Sol Indiges on the Quirinal, which was celebrated in the ancient Republican calendar on August 9th. As early as the 3rd century BC, coins appear with the Sun god shown with rays radiating from his head. However, this indigenous Sun god bears little resemblance to the solar god that would be imported from Syria centuries later.13

Still, the practice of equating living Emperors with the solar deity began soon after Augustus’ homage to the Greek Apollo. It was the Emperor Caligula that compared the ascension of the emperor to power as the invincibility of the Sun rising upon the eastern horizon. And the Emperor Nero is said to have been received by the king of Armenia who said to him: “I have come to you as my god, to worship you as Mithras.”14 But it was Commodus who first used Invictus as part of the official imperial title.

During the 3rd century, the Syrian solar deity called Elagabalus made a brief intrusion into Roman politics through Emperor Septimus Severius’ marriage to Julia Domna, the daughter of a Syrian high priest to the god. Her 14-year old grand-nephew, himself a high priest of Elagabalus, adopted the deity’s name and briefly became Emperor of Rome after Severus’ death, until the incursion of his foreign religion got him assassinated.

The cult of Sol Invictus reached its maximum heights with the Emperor Constantine, who was considered the personification of the Sun on earth and used the title Sol Invictus Imperator. In 325, Constantine proclaimed Sunday the official day of rest of the state. While, it is true that Constantine moved away from the worship of pagan deities and eventually converted to Christianity, the central position of the Sun continued unchallenged. Scholars claim that it was during this time that Christ became associated with the Sun: “Constantine’s god was a fusion of the Unconquered Sun and Christ the Victorious, but he remained god of power, not of love.”15

The Astrological Sun

Astrological interpretation is a product of historical imprinting. To ignore centuries of deity associations in regions that practiced astrology all over the Near East, while fixating solely on rote delineations in astrological manuals, is to miss the understanding of astrology as historical process. Having said that, for the purposes of discerning cultural influence, I will nevertheless include the typical delineations found in Hellenistic astrological texts on the Sun:

The all-seeing Sun, then, being truly fire-like and the light of the mind, the organ of perception of the soul, is significant at birth for kingly office, hegemony, mind, practical wisdom, outward form, motion, height of fortune, public registration, action, popular leadership, judgment, father, mastership, friendship, persons of high repute, the honors of images, statues, and crowns of office, arch-priests of the fatherland…of places.16

Having made a peripheral inquiry into the mythological history of this deity, certain odd attributes from this list become clearer. Friendship, and practical wisdom, for example, are attributes found in eastern solar deities, such as Mitra and Shamash. While judgment, is also a prominent attribute of eastern deities, here it appears late in the list, only after several other significations. What is conspicuously absent in the list of solar significations is the Sun’s oracular capacity. Yet we do find in the astrological tradition, that the 9th place in the chart – considered the place of ‘the Sun’s joy’—is the place of divination, astrology, and oracles. In the same way that Apollo presided over the Pythia’s pronouncements at Delphi, this subtle difference, may indicate that the Sun was not understood to possess oracular skills himself, but to delight in and enable their occurrence in others.

The predominance of the motif of recognition, leadership and the attainment of kingly office, clearly derives from the oldest and most ubiquitous practice of considering kings to be manifestations of the Sun, whether they be shepherd-kings in Mesopotamia, the Invincible Sun in Rome, or the personifications of Ra in Egypt. One can only speculate on who ‘the arch-priests of the fatherland’ were. But if we are to believe that the Sun is ‘phos noeron’ (the light of the mind), than one might reasonably expect that an Aristotelian influence, which describes the Good ‘as like the Sun’ or “Father”17 was a part of the astrological tradition and the arch-priests of the fatherland as those who worshipped some form of the Sun, such as in the case of Mithras. For this reason alone, there is traditional precedence for considering the Sun emblematic of the father.

As 21st century astrologers, we can begin to look at the Sun as carrier of all these motifs, yet dressed in a modern guise. Above all, the Sun illustrates one’s capacity to elevate one thing over another, that is, to choose, and to do so with practical wisdom, judgment and clarity. The Sun is never just a neutral vehicle for one’s Zodiac sign. He represents the soul’s perception, its ability to focus the will in the direction of its choosing, and in so doing, to forge the path that will carry us forth along our journey. To invoke him, is to dispel the dark clouds that have rendered that path indistinct. To swear an oath to him, is to make one’s vision become Truth.

Notes

1 John Lawrence Angel, Machteld Johanna Mellink. Troy and the Trojan War: a symposium held at Bryn Mawr College, October 1984. (PA: Bryn Mawr Commentaries, 1986). p.42.

2 Jonathan Slocum and Carol Justus trans. Great Sun Hymn. KUB XXXI 128: I, 1-21 & 39-51. Indo-European Texts. Linguistics Research Center. The University of Texas at Austin. http://www.utexas.edu/cola/centers/lrc/iedocctr/ie-texts/great_sun_hymn.html

 3 Thorkild Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion (London: Yale University Press, 1976). pp. 86-87.

4 Mark E. Cohen, The Cultic Calendars of the Ancient near East (Bethesda, MD: CDL Press, 1993). p. 319.

5 W. G. Lambert, Babylonian Wisdom Literature (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1960). p. 127 ff.

6 Reiner and Pingree, Babylonian Planetary Omens, Part 2. p.43.

7 Samuel Kramer, Sumerian Mythology. A Study of Spiritual and Literary Achievements in the Third Millennium B.C., revised ed. (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1961).

8 Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion. p. 85.

9 New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology. p. 142.

10 New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology. p. 113.

11 New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology. p. 119.

12 Charles Penglase. Greek Myths and Mesopotamia. (New York: Routledge, 1994). p. 99.

13 John Ferguson, The Religions of the Roman Empire. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1970); and Halsberghe, Gaston H.. The Cult of Sol Invictus. (Leiden. Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1972).

14 Ferguson, p.46. Mithraism was a secret hierarchical mystery cult inspired by astrological symbolism based on the Persian solar deity known as Mithra, a god of light who ruled over truth, contracts, oaths, and order. Mithras became quite popular throughout the late Roman Empire among soldiers and his name was often used interchangeably with the title of Sol Invictus. See Franz Cumont. The Mysteries of Mithras. Dover Publications, Inc. NY 1956, among others.

15 Ferguson, John. The Religions of the Roman Empire. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1970). p.46.

16 Vettius Valens, The Anthology: Book I, trans. Robert Schmidt, 1st ed., vol. IV, Project Hindsight Greek Track (Cumberland, MD: The Golden Hind Press, 1993). p.1.

17 See the entry on Nous, #16, p.137 in F.E. Peters, Greek Philosophical Terms, (New York: New York university Press, 1967).

A Validade Astrológica de Planetas a 5º de uma cúspide

Clélia Romano, DMA

04/11/2020

Muitos astrológos fazem desse tópico um dogma a ser amplamente considerado.

Mas é preciso entender os fundamentos de qualquer técnica que formos usar,é preciso pensar e pesquisar, não repetir, baseados simplesmente em ideias que nunca chegamos a entender bem.

O caso de um planeta a 5 graus da cúspide de uma casa ter influência sobre a casa é um desses fatos que não tem sentido, junto com outros que não cabe nominar aqui e que continuamos usando.

A questão citada sobre os 5º começou com Ptolomeu.

Este autor considerou as casas com alguma irrelevância, mas a questão de Qual Método de construção de casas ele se referiu provocou um grande debate.

Sua constante sobreposição das palavras “lugar” e “signo”, e a maneira como ele se refere ao meio do céu como “o sinal culminante”, foi usada para sugerir que ele considerava “lugares” .

Resta, no entanto, uma passagem altamente significativa, na qual ele oferece uma definição das casas. É o que está contido em seu método de determinação da duração da vida, sendo que os planetas dos quais extraímos tal julgamento devem estar localizados nos lugares poderosos, que ele descreve como segue:

“Em primeiro lugar, devemos considerar aqueles lugares … em que o planeta receberá o senhor da prorrogação; a saber, a décima segunda parte do zodíaco em torno do horóscopo de 5 ° acima do horizonte real para cima, e os o 25 ° que resta, que está subindo em sucessão ao horizonte [isto é, 1ª casa]; a parte sextil destra a esses trinta graus, chamada de Casa do Bom Daemon [11ª casa]; a parte no quartil, o meio do céu [10ª casa]; a parte em trígono, chamada de Casa de Deus [9ª casa]; e a parte oposta, o Ocidente [7ª casa]. ” (Tetrabiblos III.10). Vemos que o autor só aceita como Hyleg um planeta acima do céu.

Isso é tudo o que Ptolomeu tem a dizer sobre a base técnica das casas. Ao avaliar sua importância, o comentário introdutório sobre a 1ª casa é o mais pertinente: tal casa é composta pos 5 graus acima da cuspide do ASC e 25 graus abaixo, 5 ° acima do horizonte real até os 25 ° restantes, aqueles que vão subindo sucessivamente para o horizonte.

Esses 5 ° de deslocamento do ascendente causou muito debate, porque não é bem explicado, mas é a única forma de entender essa “fixação” dos 5º que atribui a cada casa uma influência de um planeta a 5 ° antes da cúspide, como no uso tradicional.

Como disse, essa abordagem é usada hoje por astrólogos treinados em técnicas tradicionais, de modo que , se um planeta estiver a 5 graus da cúspide da próxima casa, ele terá sua influência no contexto daquela casa.

Esta definição é enganosa, porque é claro que o princípio de reconhecimento dos cinco graus que precedem uma cúspide de uma casa é tradicional APENAS considerando-se a primeira casa, independentemente do método de divisão de casas utilizado por Ptolomeu.

Portanto, isso deve ser considerado um princípio de interpretação da casa 1 para localizar o Hyleg ou prorrogador e não um método que funcionaria em todas as casas, pois, nesse caso, cada casa teria que começar 5 graus antes do que começa por qualquer método de divisão, e terminar 25 graus depois!

Tal concepção poderia ter validade em caso de não haver divisão alguma de casas e as constelações se misturarem às seguintes.

Mas essa não é nossa prática: dividimos os zodíacos em 12 signos.

Além disso, se considerarmos que os planetas andam na direção dos ponteiros do relogio e as casas e seu movimento primário em direção contrária aos ponteiros dos relogios, um planeta a 5 graus da cuspide esteve na casa ha um tempo atras, havendo portanto um natural afastamento entre casa e planeta referidos.

A posição do planeta é de se tornar mais distante da casa onde esteve, dado o movimento secundário.O mesmo ocorre com a casa, dado seu movimento diurno ou primário.

Sob o ponto de vista filosófico um planeta a 5 graus de qualquer cúspide e a Casa onde se localizou estão em relação de distanciamento e finalização de relações, não havendo qualquer sentido em usar a técnica de Ptolomeu para todas as casas, quando foi usada por ele para encontrar o hyleg na primeira casa.

Como um aparte, em minha opinião, sugere-se que ele usava signos completos, mas essa é apenas uma sugestão, baseada no parágrafo inicial e que repetiremos aqui:”Em primeiro lugar, devemos considerar aqueles lugares … em que o planeta deve estar que receberá o senhor da prorrogação; a saber, a décima segunda parte do zodíaco em torno do horóscopo, de 5 ° acima do horizonte real para cima para o 25 ° que resta, que está subindo em sucessão ao horizonte [isto é, 1ª casa]; a parte sextil destra a esses trinta graus, chamada de Casa do Bom Daemon [11ª casa]; a parte no quartil, o meio do céu [10ª casa]; a parte em trígono, chamada de Casa de Deus [9ª casa]; e a parte oposta, o Ocidente [7ª casa] “.

Tal parágrafo sugere o uso de signos completos, pois se baseia no sextil com o ascendente, na quadratura , no trigono e na oposição com ele, elementos que outro tipo de divisão de casas não levam em conta.

04/11/2020

 

Astrology in Islam

It is He Who maketh the stars (as beacons) for you, that ye may guide yourselves, with their help, through the dark spaces of land and sea: We detail Our signs for people who know. (Surah Al-An‘am, 97)

The image shows the phases of the moon in a month. This is a page taken form a calendar prepared by Sayyid Ahmed b. Mustafa Al-La’li, who presented this calendar to the Sultan Selim II in 1566. Courtesy of Sam Fogg – London.

If you were to conduct a search on the subject of Islam and Astrology, you find several rulings by Muslim scholars. It is neither my place nor my interest in contradicting them. But I take exception to the way that astrology is falsely presented and I mean to show how the art is a part of the Islamic experience.  This passage will serve to provide a fair representation of the position of the naysayers:

“Not only is the practice of astrology is [sic] haram, but also visiting an astrologer and listening to his predictions, buying books on astrology or reading one’s horoscope are also forbidden. Since astrology is mainly used to predicting the future, those who practice it are considered fortune-tellers. Consequently, one who seeks his horoscope comes under the ruling contained in the Prophet’s statement. ” (See Sunnah Online). The prophet’s statement is concerned with fortune-tellers and the annulment of prayers for those who visit one.

When the passage is distilled, we find that the chief complaint is that astrologers predict the future.  For now, I will simply state that predictions are also made by the weather bureau,  ordinary farmers, physicians,  political commentators and so on. The is no supernatural force at work, although as with the other livelihood a knowledge of the subject and a keen intuition are part of the skill. I mean to address this and other issues regarding what is haram or halal with respect to the celestial sciences.

To begin, I will attempt to create a rough context for the practise of astrology in Islam, recognizing that this is the same or identical in other faiths. The question of whether or not astrology is permitted in Islam is not a simple question by any means. I have worked to place the question in the context of various forms of Islamic understanding, including the Quran itself. I find that the question isn’t so much whether astrology is haram or halal, but how astrology is interpreted in the first place.

Lunar Calendar – detail of an almanac cover page. Topkapi Palace Museum Library, MS B 309. “This calendar was important in defining the times of religious observances that were new to the Muslim community. The Islamic religion, whose rituals were based on the lunar calendar, frequently calls the attention of Muslims to the heavens in the Koran, demonstrating the close relationship with astronomy in Muslim culture. ” Dr. Salim Ayduz  (Muslim Heritage)

This is a key passage:

“Your Guardian-Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne (of authority): He draweth the night as a veil o’er the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession: He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, (all) governed by laws under His command.s it not His to create and to govern? Blessed be Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds! “(Surah Al-A‘raf, 54)

There is no question that the stars and planets are governed by laws that are above them. Plato, Plotinus, Aristotle, Ficino, Hinduism, the Abrahamic faiths along with all Islamic astrologers agree on that. This is why it is completely wrong-headed to consider authentic astrology as idolatry or placing the Creation above the Creator. That isn’t how it works.

The passage is a clear parallel to Genesis, which shouldn’t be surprising. There were large Jewish communities in centers like MekKa and Medina at the time of Muhammad. At the same time, the epithets for Allah – “Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds’ sounds more Hindu than Jewish. This is what Hindus call Vishnu. I make this comment to get the idea across that ancient Arabia was a culture of trade and with trade go ideas. They were not isolated.

Again this is made plain: “He has made subject to you the Night and the Day; the sun and the moon; and the stars are in subjection by His Command: verily in this are Signs for men who are wise. (Surah An-Nahl, 12)

There is no more fundamental belief in Islam than the concept of Tawhid. Islamic scriptures are replete with  This is but one.  Here we have the instruction to “follow what thou art taught by inspiration from the Lord: there is no god but He: and turns aside from those who join gods with Allah. (Surah Al-An‘am, 106). A term related to this is shirk – attributing partners to Allah.  It would take either a great misunderstanding of Islam and astrology to conclude that the wisdom conveyed via the stars denies the oneness of Allah.

The modifier “Sign for men who are wise” is crucial. Without special knowledge and insight, the further dimensions of meaning remain hidden. Indeed, there is no reason why everyone would need to know the greater workings of the celestial science.

Nevertheless, everyone needs to know the everyday calendrical information. In Islam, the Moon is of great significance for this and many other reasons, as the flags and mosque symbols of Islam attest. In the desert the Sun is pitiless and the cool of the evening a welcome respite. Pre-Islamic Middle Eastern lunar deities were ubiquitous and often considered male.

Classical astrologers have learned much of what they know from the ancient sources of the Middle East, Greece, Persia & India. In what were the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, Islamic astrology came into what has become known as a Golden Age.  So the question as to whether or not Islam permits the use of astrology isn’t likely to trouble many practitioners.

I do not write this article with a mind to changing anyone’s point of view. I would, however, like to make it as clear as possible how classical astrologers, including historical Islamic ones, understand their own craft. In doing so, I make one short digression.  The idea of belief is itself somewhat problematic. It lies somewhere in a grey area between faith and the void.  We might also say that it’s like faith without understanding. For example, do I have to ‘believe in’ mathematics in order for it to work? Probably not.  However, I’m not likely to derive much utility from mathematics if I refuse to employ the tools it offers. Belief has no sincere interest in the examined truth and is content to accept what others have said is true.  The apprehension of truth takes time and effort.  If this were not true, the world would have far fewer bigots.

The unexamined life is not only not worth living, it is scarcely a life at all. Sometimes the question is as important as the answer. It very often happens that one is like the proverbial fish in the bowl, not cognizant of the fact that he is swimming in water because there is no experience of otherness to create that awareness.

I was impressed by a very fine article “Is Astrology Permissible in Islam.” by Ugur Alkan, a freelance writer who holds a B.A. in Communication and an MBA in Management from Fort Hays State University, Kansas. The article is well written, but what attracted me most to the article was the stark boldness of the title in the form of a question. To some extent, this article is a response and dialogue with Alkan.

Alkan rightly points out at the beginning of the article that:

“Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, condemns fortune-tellers and praise genuine sciences. In The Holy Koran, Surah Al-Maida commands “Forbidden also is to use arrows seeking luck or decision; all that is disobedience of Allah and sin”Quran 5:3. In this case, the critical question involves the application of astrology. Is it used to find propitious times in our lives or to benefit as a helping profession in social and psychological sciences? According to some scholars in Sufism (Islamic Mysticism), astrology may be permissible in Islam because it is neither illusion nor demonic practice. Instead, astrology is based on statistical knowledge which motivates people for further research and comprehension of the human condition.”

The implication is that the two chief reasons for rejecting astrology are that it is either an illusion or else demonic. The first stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of how astrology works. Many have argued, for example, that the planets cannot possibly affect us because they are too far away. Even Jupiter’s gravity cannot reach us. The planets are just rocks in space. Usually, that’s where the investigation ends. However, the planets don’t ‘do’ anything to us.  The Quran also makes this plain. The celestial bodies are guides to the wise. The best analogy that comes to mind is that of a clock. The clock doesn’t ‘make’ time, but it can tell us what time it is. Those who seriously want to know how astrology can work will find scores of articles on this blog, dealing with that question in one way or the other

Imam Ali Conquers Jinn, unknown artist, Ahsan-ol-Kobar (1568) Golestan Palace

The demonic issue appears to be more complex in Islam than in the other Abrahamic religions because Islam includes the Jinn. One is not free to imagine there are no Jinn, any more than one is free to deny the existence of angels. These are elements of the Islamic faith. They are as much a part of Islam as who vastly outnumber humans and are invisible unless they choose to take a particular form. They are smokeless fire beings associated Iblis, the Islamic Lucifer. However, there are apparently many beneficial Jinns. The prophet Sulyman employed Jinn to great effect and this is celebrated in the Quran. They have also been associated with arts such as astrology. We are then faced with the situation of interrogating Hamlet’s ghost to determine whether the spirit is good or evil – a liar or a speaker of the truth. Although one might turn this into an impossible quest, thwarted at every step by the haunting possibility that a bad Jinn is deceiving us into believing it good, there is a way through. We can know what is good by what it produces. If authentic, seasoned astrologers can provide medical insights, auspicious dates for doing anything from starting the building of Baghdad to planting celery, identifying areas of conflict between nations or between a brother and sister, we ought to rule out the agency of evil beings for the same reasons we don’t ascribe demons as essential to weather forecasts of seasonal agricultural considerations. To do so, would be indicative of a noxious paranoia, rather than a healthy discernment.

The Jinn vastly outnumber humans and are invisible unless they choose to take a particular form. They are smokeless fire beings associated with Iblis and they can live for several hundred years.

However, there are beneficial Jinn. The prophet Sulyman employed Jinn to great effect and this is celebrated in the Quran. They have also been associated with arts such as astrology. We would otherwise be faced with the situation of interrogating Hamlet’s ghost to determine whether the spirit is good or evil – a liar or a speaker of the truth. Although one might turn this into an impossible quest, thwarted at every step by the haunting possibility that a bad Jinn is deceiving us into believing it good, there is a way through. We can know what is good by what it produces. There is nothing particularly different about this than things we do every day. A good recipe is judged by not only what the dish tastes like, but whether it is nutritious or detrimental to health.  However, I’m in no position to deny that some forms of mediumship involving an alleged communication with spirits is mere fiction. Such is neither my expertise nor interest.

Although one might turn this into an impossible quest, thwarted at every step by the haunting possibility that a bad Jinn is deceiving us into believing it good, there is a clear way through. We can know what is good by what it produces. If competent astrologers can provide invaluable medical insights, auspicious dates for doing anything from starting the building of Baghdad to planting celery, predicting the weather, identifying areas of conflict between nations and between a brother and sister, we ought to rule out the agency of evil beings.

In the Tasfir of Ibn Khatir – Imam Ahmad recorded from Az-Zubayr that he commented on the Ayah:

“A group of [Jinn] went towards Tihamah and found Allah’s Messenger while he was at a place called Nakhlah along the way to the `Ukaz market. He was leading his Companions in the Fajr prayer. When the Jinns heard the recitation of the Qur’an, they stopped to listen to it, and then they said: `By Allah! This is what has prevented you from eavesdropping on the news of the heavens.’ Then they returned to their people and told them: `Our people! We certainly have heard an amazing recitation (the Qur’an), it guides to the right path. So we have believed in it, and we will join none in worship with our Lord.’ So Allah revealed to His Prophet,”

﴿قُلْ أُوحِىَ إِلَىَّ أَنَّهُ اسْتَمَعَ نَفَرٌ مِّنَ الْجِنِّ

That the Quran was a revelation to both humans and the Jinn is a central element in Islamic thought. There is a very moving document from the 15th Century that has the animals of the world pleading to the King of the Jinn for humans to treat them better. There is a copy in the archives

Yet the Jinn are not be universally trusted by any means. There is an Islamic account, which might be apocryphal, that nevertheless holds a lot of weight. The story goes that angels get together to discuss the future, only to be overheard by evil Jinn who then corrupt the truth while leaving enough factual content to deceive the fortune teller and impress the querent.

The Stars and Human Temperaments – this model, derived from Greek sources, such as Galen and explains the theory that illustrates correlations between celestial bodies and human temperaments. This was well-received throughout the Islamic world.

“The word Jinn means “hidden” in Arabic. In The Holy Koran, they are described as being created from smokeless fire. Jinns are the descendants of Satan like Humans are descendants of Adam but most of them are very deceptive and dangerous for humans. When God has a certain event planned in our lives, he commands the angels to create the conditions to fabricate them. Before implementing God’s plan, Angels discuss this future event. In some cases, jinn sneaks up and overhear the future event and passes this information to the fortune-tellers through Tarot, I-ching or any other objects. Of course, the Jinns don’t intend to be favourable of humans; therefore, they muddle up the truth of future events with deception. As a result, the truthful events overheard from Angels are embellished with lies to cause confusion.” (Alkan).

Further to this view, we find a great deal of confirmation for credence in astrology as such:. “In Islamic teachings, every prophet was gifted with diverse miracles. Prophet Idris, also known as Enoch in the Old Testament, was blessed with his immense knowledge of heavenly sciences. As compared to modern science, he had a more complex knowledge of astronomy. Some Sufi schools consider him as the founder of the science of the stars, also called “ilm al nujum” in Arabic. Historical records illustrate his birth in Babylonia and his migration to Egypt later in life. History also collaborates that astrology was first born in Babylonia and then spread to Egypt. Prophet Idris was supposedly known to be the first person to educate mankind that living creatures are under the influence of cosmic rays.”

“In Islamic teachings, every prophet was gifted with diverse miracles. Prophet Idris, also known as Enoch in the Old Testament, was blessed with his immense knowledge of heavenly sciences. As compared to modern science, he had a more complex knowledge of astronomy. Some Sufi schools consider him as the founder of the science of the stars, also called “ilm al nujum” in Arabic. Historical records illustrate his birth in Babylonia and his migration to Egypt later in life. History also collaborates that astrology was first born in Babylonia and then spread to Egypt. Prophet Idris was supposedly known to be the first person to educate mankind that living creatures are under the influence of cosmic rays.” (Alkan)

Alkan then refers to modern horoscopes wherein the Sun is regarded as the only star and therefore the knowledge that belonged to the ancients is lost.  First of all, no serious astrology considers newspaper horoscopes as having anything to do with authentic astrology. True practitioners of the art pay a great deal of attention to fixed stars.

For some, this may be all the scriptural references to prophets such as Daniel and Enoch may be all they need to accept the halal relevance of reading the stars.  However, it is very difficult for many people to understand the difference between fortune-telling and authentic astrology. In large part, the difference is not merely in the technique, but in the intent.  If I say we are in for a very cold winter because I have learned how to read the signs of nature, such as the curling of leaves or the activity of crows, I’m merely stating that this is what happens when these signs manifest. This kind of divination is common among people who interact with and live close to nature. In fact, a Muslim colleague from Pakistan once told me that reading the stars is reading the signs of nature. If this is the case, astrology doesn’t differ much from meteorology. To refer to it as polytheistic is to completely misunderstand the nature of astrology.

“The Hour (of Judgment) is nigh, and the moon is cleft asunder. But if they see a Sign, they turn away, and say, “This is (but) transient magic.” —Quran 54:1–2 (Yusuf Ali) Image- Muhammad (veiled figure on the right) splitting the Moon in a 16th-century watercolour from a Falnama, a Persian book of prophecy. Unknown artist.

A great deal is riding on the answer to the simple question “is astrology permitted in Islam.” This question ultimately goes far beyond astrology itself. There are very many sub-sects of Sunni and Shia Islam, There are many Muslims who insist that music is haram, yet music and dance are very much part of the Islamic legacy.

Some groups in Pakistan and Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, systematically destroy Sufi shrines or anything at all that could leave the impression that Sufism was ever a part of regional cultures. Islam has taken the Abrahamic hatred for idolatry to the most extraordinary heights, being seemingly unable to distinguish between the evocative value of art from the worship of idols at all. This was why the Bamiyan Buddhist statues were destroyed. It was considered a holy act and I think they were sincere, even if regrettably misguided. The world lost an extraordinary heritage site, going back to the Buddhist period of what is now called Afghanistan, but to a literalist who considers all religions but his own as idolatrous, their destruction was an act of piety.

The answer, if you get one at all, to the question: is astrology permissible in Islam will depend on who you ask, which source texts they consult and how they interpret them.  All three criteria are subject to a multitude of considerations. I have been in touch with various Islamic scholars over the years and while most will deny that Islam supports astrology, there have been a few that do. In all cases of those who rejected astrology, I found that they had a vastly different concept from me regarding what astrology actually is. Although there is a rich tradition of astrological use, including from highly respected Islamic sources. The fact that the timing of the construction of Baghdad was trusted to astrologers and that medicine was so inextricably connected to astrology appears to be better known outside of Islam than within it. Clerics differ wildly on many subjects, but with respect to astrology, polarized views are adamantine. Attempts to explain the true nature of astrology are mostly doomed before they begin. One of the fruitful paths is to show how astrology has been used by Muslims and particularly during what is considered the Golden Age of Islam. Fortunately, the Qi’ran itself may be consulted for clarification.

The core concern regarding astrology in the Islamic world is whether or not it is shirk – this simply means that it is forbidden to assign partners to Allah.  In the context of celestial science, a good example is to be had in a passage within The Star Sura (53:49). “He is the Lord of Sirius” sound deceptively simple. Sirius is known as Shiera in Arabic and is the brightest star in the heaven. It is also known as Mirzam al-Jawza, al-Kalb al-Akbar, al-Kalb al-Jabbar, Ash-Shira al-Abur, etc. It was believed that Pre-Islamic cultures worshipped the stars. For example,  the Egyptians were said to worship Sirius as Isis. Of course, the word “worship” may not apply in usually understood meaning of the term.

Sirius has her heliacal rising at a time that coincided with the time of the season when annual floods, inundated the Nile, which augered for abundant harvests from the nutrient-rich silt of the river. As I have mentioned elsewhere, the Egyptians referred to the Milky Way as the “true Nile,” displaying a clear understanding of what is above, is below.  The Pre-Islamic Arabs also held the belief that Sirius ‘influenced human destinies.’ This is a fundamental way in which astrology is misunderstood. No reputable, traditional astrologer will tell you that the stars dictate your fate. This what is meant by the simple statement that destinies are not made and controlled by Shiera but by the Lord of Shiera. This could take into a philosophical discussion regarding essence and emanation, but that is not required. The point is simple and easy to understand, just as the Qu’ran claims to be.

Canopus the “Celestial Navigator.” – The star used for the orientation of the Kaaba. Canopus shines 1400 times brighter than our Sun.

Originally and in essence, the Islamic tradition was a sophisticated system of knowledge that embraced all known areas of enquiry and it did so with considerable exuberance! Take for example the “Book of Wonders.” This treatise has been translated into Persian, Turkish, and German and is concerned with subjects such as astrology, cosmology, and the natural sciences. The author was very fond of Pliny the Elder and other Greek classical works. as well as the rich sources then found in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and India.

the author, Zakarīyā ibn Muhammad al-Qazwīnī (circa 1203–83) was a distinguished Iranian scholar who was conversant in poetry, history, geography, and natural history. He served as legal expert and judge in several localities in Iran and at Baghdad.  After travelling throughout Mesopotamia and Syria, he wrote his famous Arabic-language cosmography, ‘Aja’eb ol-makhluqat wa qara’eb ol-mowjudat (The wonders of creation, or literally, Marvels of things created and miraculous aspects of things existing).

“Book of Wonders” by Zakarīyā ibn Muhammad al-Qazwīnī (circa 1203–83).

This is but a drop in a vast ocean. Masters of several arts, like Ibn Sina,  born in what is now Uzbekistan, wrote voluminous medical works filled with thousands of pages of pharmacopoeia and used even in Europe until a bit more than a hundred years ago. He was also an astrologer and he used this as an integral part of his medical practise.  He spoke several languages, was extraordinarily well versed in philosophy and theology among many other things. His correspondence with Al Biruni is extant and illuminating, for anyone wishing to get a deeper insight into the Islamic culture of the period.

There is a statement attributed to Hippocrates, although the written location of the quote remains a mystery. Nevertheless, it is by no means out of place with what we know about Greek humoral medicine. This was certainly taken to heart by Islamic translators of Hippocrates, Galen and others.: “A physician without a knowledge of astrology has no right to call himself a physician”  We can also look forward to Guido Bonatti and others who were instrumental in the transmission of Islamic astrological ideas and methodologies. Bonatti was a great influence on the English Astrologer, William Lilly, who in turn imparted medically relevant knowledge to Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654). Culpeper was a friend and student of the astrologer William Lilly who worked with Culpeper on the attribution of astrological characteristics of both herbs and the patients being treated. What is seldom mentioned is that Culpeper knew of Avicenna and had access to his work. Culpeper refers to this as “astrologo-physical discourse of the vulgar herbs.” In his most celebrated work on medicine, The English Physician (1652), Culpeper’s lays out the relationship between plants and astrological considerations in the service of medicine.

The uses of authentic astrology are immense and have been passed on for the most part in scrupulous detail. This is not to say that tradition is a monolith that can never be changed. In the words of Gustav Mahler: “tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire. ” In this case, the tradition involves a number of disciples working together.  We need to be clear that astrology was “NOT a hobby you performed in your spare time. It required a very good grasp of mathematics, astronomy, and writing, among many other things. Ergo, something you would

definitely not encounter among the general populace, as it would have required academic studies proportionally arduous to what you’d find today- the content might have been different, but you’d have to learn critical thinking, defending your theories, and learn about all the available material that preceded their “modern” education.” (Sid Meier’s Civis.)

Abū-ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn-ʿAbdallāh Ibn-Sīnā [Avicenna]

Avicenna’s breadth of learning is extraordinary by any standard. His importance is summed up in this entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

“Avicenna synthesized the various strands of philosophical thought he inherited—the surviving Hellenic traditions along with the developments in philosophy and theology within Islam—into a self-consistent scientific system that explained all reality. His scientific edifice rested on Aristotelian physics and metaphysics capped with Neoplatonic emanationism in the context of Ptolemaic cosmology, all revised, re-thought, and critically re-assessed by him. His achievement consisted in his harmonization of the disparate parts into a rational whole, and particularly in bringing the sublunar and supralunar worlds into an intelligible relation for which he argued logically. The system was therefore both a research program and a worldview.”

Al Biruni spoke several languages, wrote an incredibly detailed and insightful book on the history, religion, and philosophies of India was also an extraordinary astrologer and is still studied today. There are dozens of others that can be cited, but this will not convince anyone who has decided that astrology is haram. Indeed, many of the most brilliant minds in Islam were accused of heresy and/or exiled.

Page from Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine – Courtesy of The National Library of Medicine

Muslims often opine that the decline in Islam is a result of not following the literal interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah closely enough. In light of the achievements realized when Islam was a relatively open religion, respecting and admiring, for example,  Classical, Indian and Persian antiquities, the appeal to fundamentalism as a cure for what ails Islam is not a case one can make without distorting history beyond recognition. The philosopher Al-Ghazali was rather like the Savonarola of Andalusia – except that Islam has not yet fully recovered from his eloquent but misguided call for literalism and fundamentalism, effectively closing the door on the extraordinary developments in Europe. If Averroes had won the debate, Islam would most likely have had its own Renaissance and Enlightenment. However, he lost and was sent into exile.

Of course, other religions, particularly some versions of Christianity have had their own iconoclasts and toters of pitchforks and torches, accusers and inquisitors. Even today I would wager that the vast majority of Christians would denounce astrology, if asked, only to check the horoscope in the newspaper because “it’s for entertainment only.” Few are aware that astrological ideas and imagery are woven into what was once called “high Church.” Many of the Popes had astrologers.

“Night Journey” attributed to Sultan Muhammad – one of fourteen full-page illustrations included in a copy of the poems of the celebrated Persian poet Nizami which was especially created for the Safavid ruler Shah Tahmasp (ruled 1524-76). This painting depicts the Prophet’s journey to heaven on the angelic steed, Buraq.
This combined with a short survey of Qu’ran quotes will cause some to view astrology with an open mind and the rest will essentially go into a sort of denial. It’s very easy to find lists, for those interested.

Muhammad’s only son died at approximately age two and the passing coincided with a solar eclipse. Understandably, the father was stricken with grief, but he did something that might seem odd to us. He summoned all his companions.

“Prophet Muhammad wanted Arabs to eradicate the pre-Islamic era paganism and superstitious beliefs. Distraught by the death of his son, he gathered his community and told them that solar eclipse is an irrelevant event and does not occur in correlation to someone’s birth or death. The experience of Prophet Muhammad is considered proof that there is no celestial influence or synchronicity between such phenomenon and human events. ” (Alkan) This may well seem to contradict the Quran, but it does, in fact, agree with it. A single and fleeting astrological event like this shouldn’t be blamed on the eclipse.

The story of Muhammad urging his followers not to consider the eclipse as in any way related to the death of his son, because that is a pre-Islamic superstition isn’t a reason in itself  That is to say one cannot divine that something is a mere superstition just by saying so. The understanding and accurate forecasting of eclipses preceded Islam by thousands of years. The pre-Islamic astronomers were sophisticated enough to name and track the unfolding of saros cycles. At the same time, we are asked to believe that the prophet literally split the Moon into two pieces. We are also told that shooting stars (comets or meteorites) “are made as “lamps as missiles to drive away the shayatin (devils).” Al-Qur’an 67:5

Eclipse Lunar Moon phases and eclipse illustrated by the great tenth-century Persian scholar Al-Biruni.

For many years, I assumed that all Muslims took these stories as metaphors of a mystical experience as do I. The alternative is rife with problems, even more so than the Night Journey. The prophet literally flew to Jerusalem on the back of the buraq steed. met all the Abrahamic prophets and returned without being seen. Again, as a metaphor, it’s a wonderful story, but if I have no choice than to believe it’s literally true, that’s all well and good, but one cannot then claim a distaste for faith-based on unverifiable facts.  It is impossible to ignore the fact that before and after the prophet, there was a highly evolved science of the stars that had precious little to do with superstition with demonstrative techniques and stunning accuracy.

I cannot help but think that Muhammad knew this. Perhaps the story has become corrupted over the years because the Quran is not so dismissive. Also, as a merchant, he had travelled a great deal and interestingly included the Chaldeans along with the People of Book. Abraham himself is said to have come from Ur of the Chaldees.  The name Chaldean is virtually synonymous with astrology and we still refer to the Chaldean order of the planets. The Chaldean star lore derived from Egypt, Persia, and India, but they no doubt influenced these cultures as much as they were informed by them. It is impossible to imagine that the prophet was unaware of the core of their beliefs of the Sabians (/ˈseɪbiənz/; Arabic: الصابئة‎‎ al-Ṣābiʼah or الصابئون‎ al-Ṣābiʼūn). The religious group is  mentioned three times in the Quran as a People of the Book: ie “the Jews, the Sabians, and the Christians”

“It is supposed that they influenced the practices of the Hellenic Theosebeis. While their angelology was based around the movements of the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. They found its greatest development in the community which was based in the Harran region of south-eastern Anatolia and northern Syria, who were distinguished as the Sabians of Harran from the south Mesopotamian Sabi’una Hunafa by later Islamic writers like Ibn al-Qayyim” (Creative Commons).  It isn’t unusual to think of the planets and luminaries as angels or messengers. Indeed, that is the most common understanding of the part they play in astrology among traditional astrologers from virtually all traditions.

Sabian “Star-Worshipers.”
The Sabians are a monotheistic religious group who worshipped in the names of stellar angels. This religion understandably became confused with the worship of the celestial bodies themselves, rather than their creator, as the dwellings or mansions of the powers above the visible orbs. Sabeanism was one of the archaic religions found all over the world in different forms.  In its origins,  Sabianism was undoubtedly a continuation of the rich tradition of star lore in the Middle East which go back to deepest antiquity. There was a later tradition that tells us that Muhammad was himself a Sabian before his conversion. The Sabians are monotheistic and the celestial world was of the utmost importance to all groups in the region and far beyond it. It is interesting that Canopus is used as the star of orientation regarding the Kaaba because the star is known as the Celestial Navigator. The greatest irony, of course, is that Muslims who consider astrology haram, really don’t know what it is.

The question of whether or not astrology is permitted in Islam, will, of course, be the decision of individual Muslims as well as sects of Islam. Nevertheless, from an objective point of view, the fact that astrology has been integral to the development of Islam and was used by its most brilliant proponents is compelling.  The Quran itself is replete with variations on the idea that the Stars are guides for the wise. Beyond that, I sympathize, recognize and understand potential problems in the misuse of astrology.

The first part is the need for the discernment of spirits, as it is known in European cultures, but in fact, emphasized by St. Paul. The true astrologer is conscious. The techniques take many years to learn, and much more to master, but in the end, one cannot dispel higher intuition out of the nexus.  One needs to be clear with potential clients who treat astrology as of it were a slot machine or something to enforce an illusion. Astrology is good and strong medicine, but like any medicine, the quality of the practitioner is the greatest consideration.

The Angel Ruh from The Wonders of Creation and the Oddities of Existence by cosmographer Zakariya ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini (b. 1203 Widely read in the Islamic world, this manuscript was an exploration of the heavenly & earthly realms. Courtesy of the Ashmolean

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China and the Great Conjunction: glimpses of an Asian future

This is the foundation chart of the People’s Republic of China, proclaimed by the infamous genocidal and pedophile Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949, at 3:01 p.m. in Beijing. The photo that accompanies this astral figure shows that precise historical moment, when the tyrant inaugurated his dictatorship. The ascendant of the map falls at 01°33′ Aquarius, with the Moon being peregrine, angular and waxing in conjunction with the cusp from 03°03′. It is, without a doubt, the radix of a deeply collectivist and gregarious nation, where individuality weighs very little in relation to the importance of general well-being.

Both the minor conjunction of the two misfortunes, namely Mars and Saturn, which occurred on March 31, and the great conjunction of the chronocrators Jupiter and Saturn, will be perfected next December 21 at the zero degrees of Aquarius, that is practically at the ascendant of China and within orb with the Moon. The conjunction of both malefics closed less than one degree from the ascendant in question. The great conjunction of the chronocrators, which includes a powerful triplicity change, will make it just over a degree from the first cusp of the Asian giant. China is already mobilizing its game pieces to take advantage of the pandemic that nowadays has the world on its knees.

The astrological events reviewed indicate a shift in the geopolitical center of gravity from the West to the East, and more specifically from the United States to China, a country that will triumph in the fight for world domination for the next decades. This will begin the historic Asian Century. Countries such as Japan and South Korea will also play a prominent role within this new order, although with a much more modest scope. It will be China who directs the destinies of the world, controlling the economy, as it has done so far, but above all international politics. But the Chinese way of doing things is far from being compatible with our most fundamental concepts of freedom and individuality.

The cyclopean Eurasian Land Bridge and its rail transport lines are a concrete manifestation that a new silk road will dominate commerce and culture in the coming decades. The investment has been huge. Thanks to it the Chinese Communist Party, together with its satellite companies, will build the largest commercial infrastructure project in all of human history. There will be 68 countries involved and more than 65% of the population under the economic and diplomatic rule of China, including almost all of Europe, which will operate as the western link of the route and key strategic pole under the tentacles of this Asian Leviathan.

Meanwhile, the United States will lose power and influence, falling second or third in the ranking of geopolitical relevance. This is thanks to the constant flow of investment from Wall Street to Beijing and Shanghai, since the greed and betrayal of the American bankers do not recognize limits of prudence or loyalty. China’s technological dominance will be one of the cornerstones of its hegemony in the next era of artificial intelligence, robotic automation, and digital surveillance over population. We are moving towards an era of authoritarian totalitarianism and population control, with the favor of that strange Chinese hybrid between political communism and economic capitalism, richly financed by speculators in the Manhattan financial district.

Ahead we have the triplicity change of the great conjunctions. It will be two centuries of mutation from earth to air. Jupiter represents the rich, abundance and liberties. Saturn signifies the poor, the precariousness and restrictions. It is the latter who is favored in his diurnal domicile, while Jupiter is harmed and dominated by Saturn in the sign of his lordship. With China ahead, we shall enter an Orwellian world, where politics consists of scientific administration of scarcity and the strict control of the masses through the digital surveillance network. Any Tibetan, Uighur, or Mongolian could testify broadly to what is coming for the world, but their voices have been silenced for decades in the concentration camps in northwest China.

The delusional hippie dream of an aquarian universal brotherhood in consciousness and freedom is broken into a thousand pieces. It is better to remove the diving helmet of our own thoughts and look out the window of reality. And I mean literally go out and look. Around midnight it is possible to see Jupiter and Saturn closer every day on the eastern quadrant of the sky. The future is almost here … It is in the battle against the dark ages, oh Kalki, where your warriors will be consecrated to the kiss of immortality!

 

Aldebaran (Tascheter) the Watcher of the East.

Icon of Archangel Michael (detail), Yaroslavl, 1216.

The constellation of Taurus holds the red eye of Aldebaran (Tascheter) the Watcher of the East. He is almost universally considered to be the Watcher of the Pleiades. The association is with the Spring Equinox when the system was conceived. The Pleiades are associated with rain and even tears. To suffer a dry Spring was considered a bad omen indeed, as crops would fail.

The Pleiades (M45) as imaged with the Takahashi E-180 Astrograph from Bifrost Observatory. For complete details about this image, see Pleiades (M45). Photo copyright 2012 by Fred Es[panak of NASA

The Pleiades aka The Seven Sisters is probably among the best-known star clusters in the heavens. It is easily visible with the naked eye on a clear night in the winters of the Northern Hemisphere.  It has also been of particular interest since antiquity and to a variety of cultures. There are references to the Pleiades in Hesiod, The Odyssey, The Bible, and the Quran. The asterism is also revered in  Hindu mythology. The Pleiades have always been one of the most studied asterism in our history. Manilus writes: ”

“The Bull will dower the countryside with honest farmers and will come as a source of toil into their peaceful lives; it will bestow, not gifts of glory, but the fruits of the earth. It bows its neck amid the stars and of itself demands a yoke for its shoulders. When it carries the sun’s orb on its horns, it bids battle with the soil begin and rouses the fallow land to its former cultivation, itself leading the work, for it neither pauses in the furrows nor relaxes its breast in the dust. The sign of the Bull has produced a Serranus and a Curius, has carried the rods of office through the fields, and has left its plough to become a dictator [eque suo dictator venit aratro]. Its sons have the love of unsung excellence: their hearts and bodies derive strength from a massiveness that is slow to move, whilst in their faces dwells the boy-god Love (Cupido).” [Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD, book 4, p.233].

Auroch (Bull No 18) Hall of Bulls Lascaux

In the image of the Bull from the Lascaux caves, we find that the astronomical detail is stunning. The Bull is enmeshed in the Hyades, with the Pleiades clearly articulated just above him. You can also see the belt of Orion. That we have such a clear a Neolithic representation of the constellation is a testimony to how long the heavens have held particular meaning for us and also that there has been far less changing in our interpretations than we might reasonably expect. Of course, this begs the question.

The Angel of the East is Michael the Archangel. He is best known as something of an Avenging Angel but is more properly known as a protecting Angel. His sword is always ready.  The East is the place of the Sunrise and the beginning of things.

This is what Vivian Robson says about Alderaban: “It gives honor, intelligence, eloquence, steadfastness, integrity, popularity, courage, ferocity, a tendency to sedition, a responsible position, public honors and gain of power and wealth through others, but its benefits seldom prove lasting and there is also danger of violence and sickness. [Fixed Stars & Constellations in Astrology.  p.120.] Aldebaran is known as the Eye of God but also associated with blindness. Many of these attributes are the blessings and shortfalls of youth. We are facing the origins of creation.

We can’t forget that this is the element of Earth or that the Hebrew meanings are oxen in the sense of the yoked power of the Bull, Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabets and speaks to powerful potential. The name aleph is originally derived from the West Semitic word for “ox”, and the shape of the letter derives from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph.  It is thought that this glyph was in turn based on Egyptian hieroglyph, however, I find insufficient evidence of the last claim.

The tarot card that embodies this quite consciously is The Fool. The Fool is in a sense outside of the system and has the value of zero and perfect potential. In mosy decks, the Fool is shown with a staff with a sack over his shoulder, which is undeniably associated with virility. the Fool is youth personified: optimistic for no particular reason and most of all, unaware of the potency he carries and is about to walk off a cliff while sniffing a flower.

The name Aldebaran (pronounced /ælˈdɛbərən/) comes from the Arabic word al-dabarān, meaning “the follower.” The name refers to the Pleiades cluster (Messier 45), which the star appears to be following across the sky.

Puruṣārtha – The Four Pillars

Shree Yantra

The term classical astrology is often used in a rather narrow way. The fact is that we are really discovering the convergence of different cultures, from the Hellenist to Persian and both to Indian. Babylonian and Egyptian. There is no absolute boundary between one and another. This is not to say that there are no significant differences., but on many occasions, the commonalities are hiding in plain sight Zodiacal Releasing, Firdaria and Dashas are Time Lord systems with very similar intent and comparable methodology and indeed expression.

This is part of a series on Jyotish in relation to western traditional astrology. It has long been my contention that we understand best when we understand how things came to be and how wisdom was transmitted through what was then the known world. Indian, Persian and Hellenistic astrology clearly have common roots. It is my view that by studying elements of Indian or other schools of astrology and philosophies that we enrich our understanding of our own.

Puruṣārtha is an element of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) that can easily be applied in Traditional Western astrology as well as to Jyotish. Puruṣārtha might be profitably employed by a range of systems, certainly even beyond astrology itself. At the core of all traditional astrology, there are various forms of creation myths, which are quite similar. To understand that is to get to the root of authentic astrology.

The number four is referred to extensively in astrology, as in innumerable other contexts and most. cultures. The most obvious of these are the four seasons, the four elements, the four directions, the four winds and the four humours.

Hinduism created or recognized a four-part guide to live, including all dimensions of life in the Puruṣārtha. These have both personal and universal dimensions and can be expressed quite well by reference to the divisions of the horoscope.

As in many elements of Santana Dharma, there is no consensus about whether these pillars should be considered hierarchically, but they do constitute a complete system. They give us four elements of the circle of life, existing in four sets of trigons. This is the same as the Western House System to that extent. Both Hellenistic Astrology and Jyotish both use the Whole Sign system, bring us closer together.

However, the progressive element is not so widely understood in the West. We see how the fourth house of Moksha Houses proceeds to Death in the 8th and to Moksha. in the 12th. All three phases are required and work with the other Puruṣārtha. They also impart significance to the houses of the horoscope. In Hellenistic Astrology, there are two fortunate houses, the 11th and. the 5th along with two evil houses. 12 and 6. This is a simplification but serves to se5t the scene. The Second House is the Gates to Hades and the House at the other end of the axis, is the House of Death. Indian astrology is similar but not identical. I believe the origin of assigning such caution to the 2nd house is due to a concern for materialism that is rarely seen in most parts of the modern West but is still central to Indian thought. Asceticism is celebrated in the lives of Saints. Clearly, from this point of view, attachment to the material world is considered deleterious.

Houses 1, 5 & 9  are the Dharma Houses and the element of fire, marked in red.. The Artha houses, 2,, 6 & 10 are Earth and marked in saffron. 3,11 & 7 are air and the Moksha houses are 4.8 and 12, and associated with the water signs..

Dharma

For Hindus and Buddhists, dharma is the moral order of the universe and a code of living ethically that embodies the fundamental principles of law, religion, and duty that governs the social structure and indeed all rares of human life. The Hindu worldview asserts that by following one’s dharma, a person can eventually achieve liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara) Difficulties grasping an exact definition of what dharma means in Hinduism because there are so many uses of the word in stories and scriptures. Bot the essence of living an ethical life us shared by all. Hinduism is the religion of one god with a million faces. There are dualistic schools and non-dualistic schools. In the final analysis, understanding is very much the same.

But mostly it’s equated with principles such as duty, honour, justice, good works, character, and virtue. In many stories of Hinduism, when a person is in trouble, they turn to dharma to find their way out of a difficult situation.

Artha

The astrological houses of Artha are 2, 6 & 10, as you might expect. These are concerned with what one possesses, of work and the hope of recognized achievement or eminence. Artha (Sanskrit: अर्थ) is one of the four aims of human life in Indian philosophy. The word is translated as “meaning, sense, goal, purpose or essence” depending on the context in which it is used. This includes aspirations and attainment.

Plucking Tea in Assam, India.

Kama

Best understood as aesthetics, the definition of Kama involves sensual gratification, sexual fulfilment, the pleasure of the senses, love, and the ordinary enjoyments of life regarded as one of the four ends of man (purusharthas). This would naturally be closely related to the associations we have of Venus in Traditional Western astrology. Kāma (Sanskrit, Pali) means desire, wish, longing, but it would be a great mistake to think of this as trivial. I(n Hinduism, it is understood that without desire there would be nothing at all. In the time before time and creation, Vishnu dreams the Universe reclining on the coils of the serpent Shesha, accompanied by his consort Lakshmi, as he “dreams the universe into reality” It is Lakshmi who stimulates the Universal dream by her touch.

page from the kama sutra

So, in fact, the Universe was born of desire. The astrological houses are 2, 5 & 9.  This will seem somewhat alien to the western astrologer, but that is because we tend to want to separate pleasure from wisdom. The pleasures of Kama include the pleasures of the higher mind. If our pleasures lead us astray, then Dharma is there to reset the balance.

Moksha

Moksha is understood as liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth known as samsara.

Vivekachudamani, a popular text on Moksha, defines it as the following:

Beyond caste, creed, family or lineage,
That which is without name and form, beyond merit and demerit,
That which is beyond space, time and sense-objects,
You are that, God himself; Meditate this within yourself.

-Vivekachudamani, 8th Century AD

The first house in the natal chart is always the ‘Udaya Lagna’ or the Ascendant, the sign that is rising on the eastern horizon at the time of birth.  his is the same in Hellenistic astrology. The other houses follow the zodiacal sequence and the trigons each deal with an aspect of human life. Here we have the water trigon – the three stages of enlightenment. It is crucial to remember that the entire system is required and that difficulties in one house can easily affect the other signs in the trigons.

The fourth house in Jyotish is about roots, including Ancestry. Everything that refers to strong ties to your native place comes under the dominion of this house. But chiefly, it’s about roots. Without roots, there can be no blossoms.

It will be seen that Indian concepts and techniques may be gainfully introduced into virtually any form of astrology, without detracting from the form currently being used. This actually has intriguing similarities to Hellenistic astrology Both systems have at their root the will to be better and to further the good. The works of Plotinus and Philo remind one of Hindu metaphysics. In other words, they are both centred in an ethical framework.

Shri Vishnu Lakshmi

A twisted case of Horary Astrology.

A few weeks ago I worked on a horary consultation that had a curious outcome, a result that I share here to propose a reflection on the scope of our art. I think what happened illustrates quite well the strange ways destiny has to manifest itself in our lives. The story may seem somewhat fiddling, but looking more in depth we can discover an interesting dimension regarding the inevitable. A young woman contacted me because of an aesthetic intervention that she wanted to have. It was a subtle tattoo to simulate eyebrows, since she thought she had very few. I received the consultation through a video call on Monday, July 15 2019 at 9:34 p.m. in Reñaca, Viña del Mar, Chile. The specific question was: Will my eyebrows intervention have a good result? I publish this consultation and its outcome under the express authorization of the consultant, but keeping her identity in complete reserve as required by the ethics of the craft.

According to considerations before judgment we have a radical chart before us, so it can be interpreted with the certainty that it speaks about the consulted subject. We observe the ascendant at 09°17′ Pisces, being Jupiter, and secondarily the Moon, the significators of the consultant and her eyebrows. Since it is a question of aesthetics, that is, a matter related to physical appearance and not surgery for health reasons, we will be concerned with zodiacal state and local determination of the ascendant ruler and the Moon, regardless of 6th house or associated significators. It will be ideal to find a 1st house regent and a nocturne luminary in good condition, associated by a good aspect to Venus, natural signifier of beauty. It would also be promising to find Venus angular and well dignified.

What do we find at the analysis of this astral figure? Unfortunately Venus is not as we would have expected, finding her peregrine in the middle of Cancer, moving fast, oriental and having dominion over the ascending degree as almuten domus. It is also under combustion, so its light is being severely impeded by solar fire. Sadly, it does not have essential dignity to resist such burning since it travels through a degree in which she feels like being strayed. On the other hand we have Jupiter, regent of the ascending sign, being very well dignified and positioned, having strength by domicile and nocturne triplicity in the middle of Sagittarius, as well as being inside an angular house with elevation over midheaven, while applying by trine to Mars, natural signifier of surgeries, cuts and incisions. Unfortunately, that strengthened Jupiter is retrograde and separating from a contrantiscion with the relevant Venus. The Moon is waxing and applying by antiscion to Jupiter, being in hayz and succedent, but mixing night triplicity with a severe detriment, and moving slowly through Capricorn, where it is being afflicted by applicative conjunction with retrograde Saturn. Nonetheless, the reception of Venus by the Moon through opposition stands out.

What could we conclude from all of the above? The consultant will have a well-performed aesthetic procedure that will leave her satisfied with good results (reception of Venus by the Moon, high essential dignity of Jupiter) but will suffer from an acute and intense pain that will make her regret the moment (combustion of Venus, retrogradation of Jupiter in contrantiscion with Venus, detriment of the Moon in conjunction with retrograde Saturn). Although she will be happy when looking herself in the mirror, the experience will leave her with a bad memory. The prediction result was completely fulfilled but in a mysterious way, which we might even consider twisted. On the intervention’s day everything developed normally. The procedure was carried out impeccably, without problems or delays. The consultant confessed to me that, while receiving small cuts and punctures in her eyebrows, she remembered my words wondering at what point would feel the pain that I had predicted. “Pablo was wrong!” she thought. The intervention concluded successfully, with minimal physical discomfort and almost no bleeding. But fate had not finished yet its own work.

After the process, the esthetician asked the consultant for authorization to take a picture of her newly intervened eyebrows, in order to record the visual effect achieved. The cell phone with which she intended to take the picture was huge, almost as big as a tablet. Its large size surprised our client, who had not seen before an artifact of those dimensions. Behold, in an inexplicable awkwardness, the beautician approached the device to the client’s face and dropped the heavy smartphone directly on the nasal septum and the girl’s eyebrows, giving her an accurate and brutal strike. The pain was so powerful that our protagonist cried for half an hour without being able to stop, while the beautician, desperate and not knowing what to do, fell apart in apologies. She swore to the girl that she had never made a mistake like this in all his years working, even though she took pictures of all his clients, both before and after the proceedings. Once the facts were completed, the consultant called to tell me that the pain was of such magnitude that she deeply regretted, but more by having doubted my oracle than by the intervention itself.

What happened should make us reflect on how fragmentary and reduced is our ability to understand the ten thousand paths that becoming can travel to realize its own plans. In astrology it is common to know the end of matters, to the point of being able to predict the outcome of all kinds of issues, from the smallest to the largest, from the most pedestrian concerns of individuals to the most thorny issues of a republic. However, the path that destiny will travel to manifest the judgment of the stars always remains arcane and inaccessible. The wisdom of King Solomon makes sense when in Ecclesiastes 11: 5-6 he tells us that: “As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good”. But, we add here, something will germinate as promised by the seed, perhaps not in the field but in the garden; perhaps not in the garden but in the mast; maybe not in the mastic but even under your bed.

The exquisite sign of Aquarius

                                                                          Marsilio Ficino:

Marsilio Ficino

Due to the precession of the equinoxes we are entering the age of Aquarius.

Many astrologers believe it is a time of openness and humanism. Partly we can foresee some development regarding ideas, since Aquarius is an air sign. But such ideas will not always, especially in Aquarius, dealing with fair ideals.

We can´t forget that Aquarius is ruled by the great malefic, Saturn, which, being a day planet, is happier in Aquarius than in Capricorn, which it  also rules.

Thus, keeping with the traditional view, not only Aquarius opposes Leo, but their respective rulers, Saturn and Sun, also do so.

marsilio.pdf

The Sun is the daytime luminary, so we can expect a darker time linked to this opposition, as soon as Aquarius will rule the time.

One thing to keep in mind is that many astrologers identify signs with houses, which is a mistake and confuses things.

The signs refer to the position of the constellations in the sky. But houses are the most terrestrial phenomenon that exists as it is experienced as the change between day and night and the several hours over a period of a day.

Meanwhile, the constellations remain unchanged. It is the earth that changes, offering every two hours a different position in the east.

The fact that we observe, let´s say, the sign of Aries at dawn during the fall in the southern hemisphere, does not mean that dawn or the 1st house has to do with Aries, since in another latitude and longitude Libra, or any other constellation / sign, can be seen.

Much of what is thought about Aquarius relates to the fact that in the standard zodiac, which has Aries as its beginning, Aquarius appears in the 11th house, which in fact is a positive house, connected with fraternity and hope, and where Jupiter has its joy.

However, Jupiter rejoices in the 11th house, whatever sign appears there and not necessarily in Aquarius. Therefore, there is a huge difference between signs and houses.

Another thing to take into account is that the signs or constellations have their own proper characteristics:

As for the mode they can be fixed, common and mutable. The fixed signs keep things as they are. The common signs start things up and the mutable signs act sometimes in one way, sometimes in another.

As for the gender, the signs can be feminine and masculine. Feminine signs are centripetal, they hope, masculine signs are centrifugal, they seek.

As for its elemental nature the signs are divided in earth, water, fire and air. Earth signs wait for material security, water signs wait for being loved, air signs seek freedom of ideas and fire signs seek freedom of action.

In relation to Aquarius, object of our study, it is a masculine sign of air and is a fixed sign.

Male signs tend to be active and go after things. Air signs, which are masculine, tend to seek freedom of ideas and fixed signs tend to immutability.

We note here a kind of internal conflict in Aquarius because its immutability restricts the action to which Aquarius is prone. We can say that it is a sign that has a conflict in itself.

Leo is also fixed, but it is a sign of fire, but the Sun, its ruler, changes its sign much faster than Saturn, and Leo, having the Sun as its ruler can see the action needed being executed by others when its majesty, Leo, keep resting.

Aquarius is trapped in its freedom of ideas, and even if Saturn is in a masculine sign of action, Saturn is a slow planet, the slowest of all, which always suggests delays and melancholy.

Aquarius strives for freedom of ideas but cannot act in that direction because it is subject to its mode, which reflects immutability.

However, despite these more general characteristics, signs manifest themselves through their rulers, and it is then that we individualize a chart, be it mundane, personal, elective or horary.

In this case, there are specific rules and techniques for each of these kinds of astrology.

In a certain internet discussion of world astrology, someone told that the Aquarian age would bring “hopes” to mankind. I can´t agree, because Aquarius is ruled by the malefic Saturn and in the Thema Mundi it occupies the 8th house, a malefic house. Thinking about these matters we came across Marsilio Ficino´s chart. This man was a Renaissance´s astrologer, philosopher, translator, poet and physician.

At that time I was not aware of the chart, but got interested in the fact that this native, who wrote “Three books on Life”, “Soul Meditations,” and about the nature of love, had Aquarius on the Ascendant with Saturn!

I began to read his biography and to analyze his chart, in order to understand the meaning of Aquarius and his ruler being in the ascendant creating a prodigal author and a transmitter of ideas.

Much is said about Marsilio Ficino’s life, but very few is know of him in truly personal terms, for example if he was happy or unhappy person, if he had any love, how well he got along with people, etc.

About these matters we have nothing. His life, according to Wikipedia and other sites, quoted in the end ot this article , boils down only to his intellectual output, his intelligence, and the protection of the Medici´s. There are no books in any language, not even in Italian, narrating his personal biography. We have a lot about his writings, though.

First I will show his chart, obtained by Astrodatabank and considered as AA, that is, the time was reliable. Next I will write his biography as it is found on numerous websites, and then I will outline the chart, emphasizing the rising Aquarius sign.marsiliocarta.pdf

 Marsilio Ficino was born in Figline Valdarno, in October, 19, 1433 and died in Careggi, Florence, in 1st of October 1499

He was an Italian scholar and Catholic priest who was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance. He was an astrologer, a reviver of Neoplatonism in touch with the major academics of his day and the first translator of Plato‘s complete extant works into Latin. His Florentine Academy, an attempt to revive Plato’s Academy, influenced the direction and tenor of the Italian Renaissance and the development of European philosophy.

His father Diotifeci d’Agnolo was a physician under the patronage of Cosimo de’ Medici, who took the young man into his household and became the lifelong patron of Marsilio, who was made tutor to his grandson, Lorenzo de’ MediciGiovanni Pico della Mirandola, the Italian humanist philosopher and scholar was another of his students.

When Cosimo decided to refound Plato’s Academy at Florence he chose Ficino as its head. In 1462, Cosimo supplied Ficino with Greek manuscripts of Plato’s work, whereupon Ficino started translating the entire corpus to Latin.  Ficino also produced a translation of a collection of Hellenistic Greek documents found by Leonardo da Pistoia later called Hermetica, and the writings of many of the Neoplatonists, including PorphyryIamblichus and Plotinus.

A physician and a vegetarian, Ficino became a priest in 1473.

In 1474 Ficino completed his treatise on the immortality of the soul, Theologia Platonica de immortalitate animae (Platonic Theology). In the rush of enthusiasm for every rediscovery from Antiquity, he exhibited a great interest in the arts of astrology, which landed him in trouble with the Roman Catholic Church. In 1489 he was accused of magic before Pope Innocent VIII and needed strong defense to preserve him from the condemnation of heresy.

Probably due to early influences from his father Diotifeci, who was a doctor to Cosimo de’ Medici, Ficino published Latin and Italian treatises on medical subjects as De vita libri tres (Three books on life). His medical works exerted considerable influence on Renaissance physicians such as Paracelsus, with whom he shared the perception on the unity of the micro- and macrocosmos, and their interactions. Those works, which were very popular at the time, dealt with astrological and alchemical concepts. Thus Ficino came under the suspicion of heresy again; especially after the publication of the third book in 1489, which contained specific instructions on healthful living.

Ficino introduced the term and concept of “platonic love” in the West developed all along his work, mainly his famous De amore. He also practiced this love metaphysic with Giovanni Cavalcanti, whom he made the principal character in his commentary on the Convivio, and to whom he wrote ardent love letters in Latin that were published in his Epistulae in 1492; there are also numerous other indications to suggest that Ficino’s erotic impulses were directed exclusively towards men. His Latin translations of Plato’s texts put into practice the theories of anti-homosexuality in his Convivium.

With the death of Lorenzo of Medici, in 1492, the political balance between Florence and the other Italian states was broken. This was followed by a bloody period of war and invasion.

  The decline of the Medici will have a negative influence on Ficino’s life. The Academy’s activities have been extinguished and its thinking is harshly criticized by the powerful cleric Girolamo Savonarola, against whom Ficino will write an Apology in 1498.

Disgusted, the philosopher retires, dying in his house of Careggi in 1499.

Again:marsiliocarta.pdf

As we see, it is a chart whose ascendant is Aquarius. The native’s primary motivation is to pursue intellectual freedom. As Aquarius is a fixed sign, it persists in this goal, but has little malleability in the way it is pursued. Saturn, ruler of the sign, is a masculine planet and is dignified by domicile and placed in an angle.

Possessing the ascendant´s ruler in the ascendant we see that Marsilio was primarily interested in his own goals. But they are opposed by Jupiter in Leo, which we will analyze later.

Saturn is the dispositor of the Moon and Mars. The position of the Moon is quite negative, in the sign where it has its detriment and in bad house, the 12th.

This tells us of a reclusive type of life, which is confirmed by the fact that Mars, the dispositor of Mercury, ruler of the profession and ruler of the 10th house, is also falling in 12th house.

Mercury, on the cusp of the true MC, makes a sextile with Mars in the 12th house and Mercury, as we said, is the native’s profession dispositor: he is received by Mars, which is in its exaltation in Capricorn, so he wrote about deep and serious things and we suppose that in complete solitude. This sextile between Mars, ruler of the 10th and Mercury, ruler of the native´s profession, and Mars receiving Mercury by rulership, is the reason why Ficino´s writings and deep study were very important for the native’s reputation.

The chart is diurnal and the Sun is in the 10th house: the brilliance will be obtained without the native acting, since the Sun is in a feminine and passive sign, but because of Jupiter in the 7th House in Leo. So we understand most of Ficino´s life and support: Jupiter receives the Sun by rulership.

We can clearly see the partnership with solar and wealthy persons admiring  Marsilio’s studies.

Venus is the ruler of the 8th house, and is in its fall. Venus rules the 4th house, and Marsilio receives from Cosme a village to live and study. We see that a benefic dignified planet as an angular Jupiter, can turn bad things, as Venus in its fall, into not so bad, perhaps because Jupiter rules Pisces, the 2nd house of the chart. Also, the good effect is received because Venus in the 8th house is in Mercury’s sign, which is acting as a benefic. Venus in Virgo  is ruler of the 9th, which explains his priesthood.

His solar partners welcome him to court and value his knowledge, but his life was lived, most of the part, behind the scenes and alone, and love was represented only through letters, because he was shy, priest and rigid, not accepting sodomy.

I do not see Marsilio as an outgoing person at all, and he seems taciturn, melancholic, and sad.

Certainly he was not a threat to the Medici, as long as he developed the translations and the intelectual labor much appreciated by Lawrence the Magnific, who admired Plato.

I imagine that Marsilio submitted to the power of Jupiter, who acted not only for him to carry out his studies, which was his primary motivation, but Jupiter opposing to Saturn required a mundane life, parties and celebrations, which were important to the Medici, but not to Marsilio, who preferred a life of closure, quietness and study.

We do not know what really happened but it is very plausible that Marsilio have had to bow his head to the powerful Church, restricting his interest in magic and alchemy, since he was once accused of necromancy.

With these thoughts I hope to have shown a life which only obtained his primary motivation doing compromises and never having the total control over his own needs and freedom, including love.

 Had him a fiery ascendant, for example, he would hardly avoided quarreling in an environment filled with conflict over the power as used to happen in Florence at those days.

But the sign of Aquarius in the ascendant leads to great immutability, although Saturn, domiciled there, is masculine and leads to action, albeit very slowly.

Clélia Romano,DMA

August 2019

PS: Fort hose who want to know more of Ficino´s work I recomend the following encyclopedia  https://cse.google.com/cse?cx=001101905209118093242%3Arsrjvdp2op4&ie=UTF-8&q=+Ficino&sa=Search