Prayer Beads: Shapshu and Yarikh of Canaan

Materials:

Charms:
Sun and moon: 1
Hamsa: 1

Beads:
Clear Quartz: 3 beads
Light Jade: 4 beads
Dark Jade: 4 beads

Pattern:

Sun and moon charm
Clear quartz
Light Jade (3 beads)
Clear Quartz
Dark Jade (3 beads)
Clear Quartz
Light Jade
Dark Jade
Hamsa

Prayers:

Sun and Moon:
Bring peace and well-being, O ‘Ilu and the Gracious Gods

Clear Quartz:
Bring peace and well-being, O Gracious Shapshu the Torch and Yarikh the Lamp

Light Jade:
Bring peace and well-being, Yarikh Lord of the Sickle

Dark Jade:
Bring peace and well-being Shapshu, the Burner of Illness

Hamsa:
Bring peace and well-being by your loving kindness, O Gracious Gods.

Classical and Modern Astrology (2 of 2)

Modern Astrology started in the early 20th century when Alan Leo (William Frederick Allan, British,1860-1917) created an astrology based on psychological principles. Rather that the stars predicting the future, they now indicated a person’s character. A Theosophist, he also added karma and reincarnation to the interpretation of the Natal Chart. In so doing, Leo also side-stepped the question of free will versus fate. He also sought to legitimize Astrology by applying scientific laws to the craft. Leo did this to avoid being arrested for fortune telling.

Dane Rudhyar (Daniel Chenneviere, French-American, 1895-1985), another Theosophist, founded Transpersonal Astrology. His book, “The Astrology of Personality (1930),” presented the Natal Charts as insights, not predictions. According to Rudhyar, Astrology offered choices, with people having total free will. He saw Astrology as the “workings of cycles and holistic patterns in people’s lives.” (Rudhyar is also known for his presentation of the Sabian Symbols (a 20th Century development) for each degree of the Zodiac.)

In regards to the Planets, Rudhyar said that Jupiter needs to work within Saturn since that Planet forms the purpose of a person’s life. The Planet Saturn offers the structure to do that. Meanwhile, Uranus (a non-Classic Planet) will pierce through the walls of Saturn, and abruptly change things. (This differs from Jupiter being the Planet of expansion, while Saturn is the Planet of restriction in Classical Astrology.)

In Modern Astrology, the newer Planets – Uranus, Neptune and Pluto – are important to the workings of the charts. Included in Natal Charts are the asteroids such as Ceres, Chiron, Juno, Pallas, and Vesta. Lilith, in her various forms such as the Black Moon Lilith, are plotted as well. While the Asteroids affect an individual’s character, the outer (newer) Planets impact the character of generations.

In the 1970s, the Twelve Letter Alphabet System was introduced by Zipporah Dobyns (American, 1921-2003). Also known as the ABC System of Astrology, the system has the Houses correspond with the Signs, which then correspond to the Planets. An example would be First House (A), Ares (B), and Mars (C). In this system, the Planets are Archetypes. Meanwhile, the Zodiac Sign determines how the Planet will manifest in a House.

The ABC System changes the meanings of the Planets from their Classical sources. For example, Venus, the traditional ruler of love, is now associated with the Second House. That House governs resources, and has Venus ruling money. In Classical Astrology, Mercury is the Planet who rules money and exchanges. Another example is the Sun which is associated with Leo. Now because Leo rules the Fifth House, the Sun now governs children. Classic Astrology has the Sun ruling royalty instead.

When I first encountered Astrology, it did not interest me. It seemed to be inane and chaotic. After reading about William Lilly and his works, I realized how elegant Classical Astrology was. In contrast, Modern Astrology is more ad-hoc and intuitive. Because I have a brain injury, I prefer “maps” to navigate by. Classical Astrology provides that for me with the malefic and benefic Planets, and the rules of interpreting their effects on daily life. I find Classical Astrology more useful to me since it clarifies things better. That approach to Astrology is structured and methodical, which suits me better.

Works Used:
Baigent, Michael, “Astrology in Ancient Mesopotamia.” Bear and Company: Rochester (VT). 1994.
Burns, Peter, “Western Astrology.” 2020. Web. https://westernastrology.net .
Clark, P. James, “Ancient and Traditional Astrology: The State of the Art.” 14 September 2018. Web. https://classicalastrologer.me/2018/09/14/the-state-of-the-art-1/

Dyles, Benjamin and Jayne Gibson, “Astrological Magic.” Cazimi Press: Minneapolis. 2012.
Giamario, Daniel and Cayelin Castell, “The Shamanic Astrology Handbook.” Empower Your Brilliance: Tucson. 2014.
Gillett, Ray, “The Secret Language of Astrology.” Watkins Publishing: London. 2011.
Hall, Judy, “The Astrology Bible.” Sterling Publishing: NY. 2005.
Meyer, Michael, “Dane Rudhyar Archival Project.” 2004. Web. http://www.khaldea.com/rudhyar/ .
Lehman, J. Lee, “Classical Astrology for Modern Living.” Whitford: Atglen (PA). 1996.
Warnock, Christopher, “Renaissance Astrology.” 2018. Web. https://www.renaissanceastrology.com/ .


Classical and Modern Astrology (Part 1 of 2)

Classical Astrology

For practitioners, their approach to Astrology can be split into either Classical (Traditional) or Modern. Since it is more concerned with the happenings on the Earth, Classical Astrology is both predictive and deterministic. Classical Astrology uses only the traditional five Planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). and the two Luminaries (Sun and Moon). Meanwhile, Modern Astrology includes all the Planets in the solar system (and Pluto), asteroids, and other heavenly bodies. The focus of Modern Astrology is the person. To that end, it uses psychological principles to explore and explain a person’s Natal Chart.

In Classical Astrology, fate is more important than free will. William Lilly (English, 1602-1681), in his “Christian Astrology (1647),” established practical rules to interpreting charts of events and questions to be answered. According to Lilly, the Planets have Elemental Dignities of Rulership, Exaltation, Fall, and Detriment. These Dignities determine how the Planet will affect the answer to the question being asked. Therefore, the Planets are divided into fortunate (benefic) and unfortunate (malefic).

Planets have a Rulership in a Sign and House. Unlike the modern sense of Rulership, Classical Astrology defines it as “strength” instead of “affinity.” Rulership is when and where the Planets express their best selves. Therefore, how Planets interact with each other is based on their Elemental Dignities (what House and Sign they are in at the time of the casting). To understand their interactions, the Ptolemaic Aspects of Sextile, Square, Triad, and Opposition are analyzed for each Planet.

In Classical Astrology, the heavenly bodies only comprise the five classic Planets with the two Luminaries. The order of these bodies is based on their distance from the Earth. Since the Earth is stationary, the order is geocentric. The Chaldean (Ptolemaic) Order is Saturn (the greater Malefic), Jupiter (the greater Benefic), Mars (the lesser Malefic), the Sun, Venus (the lesser Benefic), Mercury (reflecting the Planet he is closest to), and the Moon respectively.

Shapash and Yarikh of Canaan

In Canaanite (Ugaritic) Mythology, the Sun is female and the Moon male. Shapash (Shapshu) (Note) is the Goddess of the Sun. Called the “Torch of the Gods,” She is the messenger of El, who heads the Canaanite Pantheon. While Shapash is the Torch, Yarikh, the God of the Moon, is known as the “Lamp of the Gods.” Together, the two offer guidance and light for all.

In the Ba’al Cycle (Epic), Shapash is an ally of Ba’al, the God of Thunder and Rain. After Ba’al had been killed by Mot, the God of Death, She searches with Anat, Warrior Goddess, for his body. While Ba’al is in the underworld, Shapash shines the hottest on the land. When the two Goddesses finally restore Ba’al, Shapash gleams with a gentle light. After the rains come, Shapash encourages the crops to grow.

Every night, Shapash goes into the Underworld, and takes the newly Dead with Her. As She departs, Kothari, the Builder watches to allow the Goddess to slip by sea dragons in the Mediterranean Sea. Traveling between the worlds, Shapash often brings messages to the Gods and humans. Also, She mediates to diffuse difficult situations. For example, She separates Ba’al and Mot when the two Gods fight, by informing Mot that Ba’al has El’s favor.

Meanwhile Yarikh, the Lord of the Sickle, watches over the living at night. The horns on his head are representative of the crescent moons, with the left for waxing and the right for waning. Young and virile, Yarikh will get drunk much to the chagrin of the other Gods. He does marry, and becomes the father of the Kothirat, who are the Goddesses of Marriage and Childbirth. (“The swallow-like daughters of the crescent moon” are associated with the new moon.) For his wife Nikkal, the Goddess of Fruit and Fertility, He waters the fruit trees daily with dew.

Ever present, the Sun and the Moon of the Canaanites watch over the living and the Dead. Shapash rules the Underworld, and Yarikh offers safe passage for the Dead. The Sun has both destructive and growing powers. Meanwhile, the Moon keeps time, waters the fruit trees, and has his daughters oversee childbirth.

I do not associate either the Sun or the Moon with a particular gender. I have encountered Gods of either gender for each of these luminaries. I do believe that Western Classical tradition have imprinted in people’s minds that the Sun is male, and the Moon female. Since I recognize that, I do not assign universal genders to either one.

Note: Not to be confused with the male God of Sumer, Shamash, who is also a Sun God.

Works Used:
“The Baal Cycle,” https://emp.byui.edu/SatterfieldB/Ugarit/The%20Epic%20of%20Baal.html.
Dawson, Tess, “The Horned Altar.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2013.
—, “Whisper of Stone.” O. Books: Winchester (UK). 2009.
Siren, Christopher, “Canaanite/Ugaritic Mythology FAQ,” 1999. http://www.arcane-archive.org/faqs/faq.caugmth.9805.php

Babylonian Months: February and March

Since the Babylonian year starts at the Spring Equinox, the period starting from the Winter Solstice could contain from three to four months. The lunar months of the Babylonian calendar have to fit within the solar year of equinoxes. The fourth month (intercalary) was usually inserted by a decree from the King.

In Sumer, the twelfth month was called “Sekigku,” (The Month of Grain Reaping). This was the time of the barley harvest, which happened everywhere in Mesopotamia. The Festival of Barley Consumption started mid-month and ended at the full moon. The Grain Goddess, Ashnan was given offerings, and the Beer Goddess, Ninkasi was praised. Modern Sumerian Polytheists will celebrate with bread and beer, giving thanks for both Goddesses.

In the Standard Mesopotamian Calendar, the month is called “Addaru.” According to Astrolabe B, in the month of Addaru, “the vast fields of Ningirsu (Lord Flood) the sickle is not left behind.” When the reaping is done, the Barley Consumption Festival starts. People feast, visit each other, and play table games.

Meanwhile, preparation for the Festival of Dumuzi is underway, which happens at the end of the month. Offerings of fruit, cheeses, honey, and oil are placed on boats, and sent downstream. The boats fetch Dumuzi from the Netherworld, so that He can prepare for his marriage to Inanna.

The Festival of the Carnelian Bed celebrates the marriage of Ninlil (Lady Wind in the Grain) and Enlil (Lord Wind). Since Addaru is the month of Enlil’s happiness, hymns are sung before the Bed. Then beer, incense, and goat meat are offered for the happiness of these Two Gods.

The Standard Mesopotamian Calendar has a nineteen year cycle. One month is added in the 17th year before the Autumn Equinox – Ululu 2. In the 19th year, one month is added before the Vernal Equinox, Addaru 2. Each month has 29 or 30 days, which gives a year of 354 days. Therefore intercalary months are needed to keep the lunar calendar in sync with the solar year. These months usually had the festivals held in either Ululu or Addaru.