More than Sun Signs: The Many Types of Astrology

phases of the moon

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The first type of Astrology to emerge was Mundane Astrology. Michael Baigent in his observations on Mesopotamian Astrology writes “Mundane Astrology seeks a greater understanding of the dynamics of the mass of individuals who gathered together in the body politic.” Therefore when studying history, Mundane Astrology should be considered, since rulers consulted the stars to govern by. By understanding the stars, rulers could divine what is going to happen next, so they can plan accordingly.

My introduction to Mundane Astrology was the writings of John Michael Greer (former ADOA Archdruid). What I gleamed was that the reading is set in the capital of the country on the date of its founding. Then the Twelve Houses and their ruling planets are examined from the months of that particular Ingress to the next one. For example, the Cancer Ingress for the U.K. is June to September (when the Libra Ingress is read). The founding date is the coronation of Victoria, since that marked a new era for the U.K. Predictions are made for politics, economics and society for that particular Ingress for the U.K. This information can be then acted upon for the selected period.

Natal Astrology was developed after the Persian invasion of Babylon in 539 BCE. The Persians expanded upon Babylonian Astrology. They added such concepts such as the Sidereal Period (the length of time taken by a planet to pass through the twelve signs of the Zodiac back to its starting point), fixed Zodiacal signs, and the Synodic Period (the period between consecutive conjunctions of a planet with the sun as seen from the earth).

Professor Bartel Landert Van der Vaerden, who studied early Astrology, said that the religion of Zoroastrianism of the Persians brought a different perspective. Because that religion said that there was a free choice between good and evil for the person, they could learn their potential choices from the stars. Birth charts for individuals were created to advise them on how the stars influenced their lives.

In modern times, the birth chart is a map that a person can to guide their journey. The chart of where the stars are when the person was born is cast. Then the astrologer studies the chart to for the general outline of the person’s future. The natal chart can also suggest what types of careers and relationships that the person can succeed at. Natal Astrology is the focus on the individual and their relationship with the stars.

The birth chart is three dimensional with the birth date, birth place, and birth time. It projects the future by the position of the heavenly bodies at the junction of these three points. It can define where the nodes of a person’s life is overtaken by planets and their returns. The astrologer acts as the navigator of the person’s chart.

Joanna Woolfolk defines Horary Astrology as a “special horoscope cast for the moment in which a specific question is asked. The theory behind Horary Astrology is that there is a sympathy between the cosmos and the human mind.” Horary Astrology is used to answer questions since the stars offer immediate guidance. An example would be Queen Elizabeth I asking John Dee, her astrologer, what the stars counsel for England to do against the Spanish Armada.

Christopher Warnock defines Horary Astrology as the branch of Astrology that predicts the future by using the time of a question. He stress that the time of the question is critical in casting the chart. He states that traditional sources say that the question is “born” when it is asked of the astrologer who uses their location for the chart. The ruling planets and houses related to the question are then read. Warnock uses his location for the birthplace of the question.

Works Used:
Baigent, Michael, “Astrology in Ancient Mesopotamia.” Bear and Company: Rochester (VT). 1994.
Gillett, Ray, “The Secret Language of Astrology.” Watkins Publishing: London. 2011.
Hall, Judy, “The Astrology Bible.” Sterling Publishing: NY. 2005
Warnock, Christopher, “Renaissance Astrology.” 2018. Web. https://www.renaissanceastrology.com/.
Woolfolk, Joanna, “The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need.” Taylor Trade Publishing: Lanham (MD). 2008.

Prayer Beads: Enki of Sumer

multicolored beaded necklace

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Enki is the God of the Abzu, the underground freshwater ocean. He helps humans in their daily struggles. Enki also provides abundance to the land.

Materials

Charms:
Green man: 1
Tree of life: 1

Beads:
Moss agate: 4
Sodalite: 7
Yellow jasper: 7
Labradorite: 7

Pattern:

Green Man: 1

Moss agate: 1
Sodalite: 7
Moss agate: 1
Yellow jasper: 7
Moss agate: 1
Labradorite: 7
Moss agate: 1

Tree of Life: 1

Prayers:
Green Man charm:
“Praise to You, Lord Enki, Hear my song!”

Moss agate:
“Lord of Earth,
Make dense the clouds
Grant abundance to all the land.”

Sodalite:
“Fertilizing Sweet Waters, prosperity follows in your wake.”

Yellow jasper:
“Form-Giving Sweet Waters, draw near the yellow fields.”

Labradorite:
“Cleansing Sweet Waters, remove the filth of the fields.”

Tree of Life:
“Grain piles in heaps at your command,
Praise to You, Lord Enki!”

Magical Math: Number 12

person touching black two bell alarm clock

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I have training in mathematics and worked with statistics most of my life. Mathematics, in its own language, conveys a sense of the cosmos that letters cannot. The symbolic nature of mathematics presents the cosmos as multidimensional with real, complex, and imaginary domains.

What is the number “twelve?” Why is it a number that human societies divide things into? Base Twelve is cumbersome, even as the standard for counting time. In Mesopotamia, they computed time using that base, and this was adopted by other civilizations. Base Ten would seem easier than Twelve, but it was ignored. In Mesopotamia, the number seven (Note 1) is the most sacred number. This makes using Base Twelve odder.

In mathematics, twelve is considered a “superior highly composite number,” an “abundant number,” and a “sublime number.” (Note 2) What means for the non-mathematician is that twelve has many divisors – 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12. This abundant number of divisors allows twelve to be a truly magnificent number. Moreover, it is the smallest of the composite numbers that have six or more divisors. Since it contains so many numbers, twelve can offer a window into the workings of the universe.

Pondering twelve as the Mesopotamians saw the number meant delving into the components of seven. It is “three” plus “four.” Three supports the universe like a stool. Moreover, three supports life since two becomes one to be three. Meanwhile four is stability. There are four directions – front, back, left and right, which makes the universe sturdy.

What is twelve but four “threes: or three “fours.” Twelve can hold seven in multiple forms without expanding beyond itself. Three and four combines to create an orderly universe with odd and even numbers. Therefore within 12 is the sacred seven.

Notes:

Note 1: Jeremy Black and Anthony Green, “Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia.”

Note 2: Definitions of these terms can be found at “The Encyclopedia of Mathematics,” https://encyclopediaofmath.org/wiki/Main_Page

 

Polytheism: Views on Good and Evil

PazuzuDemonAssyria1stMil_2

Pazuzu from the Louvre

One belief in Christianity is that the material world is inherently evil. People live in a “fallen world.” Therefore, the cosmos is a battleground between the forces of good and evil. The Devil tempts people to sin to separate them from God. A Christian’s only hope is through the Blood of Christ.

When the Church was assimilating Pagans (Note 1), they cast the various Gods as spawns of Satan to discourage belief in Them. However, because of their popularity, some Gods became saints such as Bridgit. Eventually, the Polytheist pantheons were divided into “good” and “evil” Gods. (Note 2)

In contrast, Polytheism regards the universe (including the material world) to be whole. Humans, Gods, Spirits and Others live together in a cosmic ecosystem. What each one does effects the others and their respective worlds. The web of the cosmos has each thread crossing another one or several. It is a tapestry of wholeness. Gods, Spirits, Others and humans meet at the nodes, the liminal places.

An example of this rich complexity is Pazuzu, the demon featured in “The Exorcist” (1973). This Mesopotamian demon (Note 3) is the son of Hanbi, the King of the Evil Wind Demons. Although Pazuzu brings the Wind of Famine, He protects against the West Wind of Pestilence. Meanwhile, newborns and pregnant women are protected by Pazuzu as well. (In Babylon, women wore amulets of his head for protection.)

As I noted, Christians saw demons as evil. Demons like Pazuzu, who have a connection with the Underworld, became agents of Satan, God’s Adversary. Thus the Pagan Underworld was transformed into the Christian Hell, with the Gods and demons as tormentors.

Gaius Florius Aetius, Priest of Apollo, writes in his essays on good and evil (Note 4) that the Gods can be thought in terms of order or chaos. He notes that Plato wrote about destructive forces that oppose the ordering known as Logos. In the Roman Polytheistic sense, order creates civilization, chaos the wilderness.

Aetius writes, “Paganism (Note 5) always revolves around the idea of change. For a Pagan perspective, creation exists always, it merely changes its status and herein lies a hint to the Pagan concept of Evil. There are two different kinds of order, or chaos versus order…The world before the Gods is the original state of the cosmos as a place hostile to life and to civilization…the Gods now come into being and make a new space inside the chaotic cosmos, as a place of order and harmony, wherein life and culture can develop.” (Note 6)

Aetius grapples with the role of the Gods of Chaos. He writes “Seth (Set, Egyptian God) symbolizes the other, the alien, the enemy and the disturbance of harmony, that which is anti-natural. His very existence is contrary to the natural order.” He continues, “Seth sheds some light on the Pagan idea of Evil, as He is the non-defined animal, like one who would not want to be one thing or another, not decide, while culture and personal development requires decision.” (Note 7)

In my reading, Set (Seth) is not evil in the Christian sense. What this Egyptian God does is to ensure that order does not stagnate or overwhelm the cosmos. Raven Kaldera, Northern Tradition shaman, expands on this by explaining that the “troublemaking” Gods have a sacred duty to battle complacency and extreme order.

Because everything is a combination of order and chaos, balance between the two is essential for life. Balance is harmony of the two, for within chaos is order, and vise versa. The excess of order is oppression, the excess of chaos is anarchy.

Notes:
Note 1. The Church coerced the conversion of many European Pagans.

Note 2. This is reflected in how modern Pagans regard Underworld or Trickster Gods. Loki of the Norse is viewed as “evil.” Therefore, when approaching various Pantheons of Gods, be mindful of the unconscious bias of “good” or “evil” Gods.

Note 3. In Mesopotamian nomenclature, “demons” are human-hybrids. “Monsters” are the combinations of animals. Pazuzu, a demon, has a human body with scales, a penis of a snake, the talons and wings of a bird.

Note 4. His essays are “Demons, Spirits and Miasma,” “The Roles of Evil in Paganism,” The Gods of Madness – Danger of the Logo-Centric Western Culture,” and “Concept of Evil.”

Note 5. He refers to Polytheism as Paganism.

Note 6. Gaius Florius Aetius, “Schola Aetii – Reformed Roman Paganism.” P. 126.

Note 7. Gaius Florius Aetius, “Schola Aetii – Reformed Roman Paganism.” P. 127.

Works Used:
Gaius Florius Aetius, “Schola Aetii – Reformed Roman Paganism.”
Jeremy Black and Anthony Green, “Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia.”
Tess Dawson, “The Horned Altar”
Thorkild Jacobsen, “The Treasures of Darkness.”
Raven Kaldera, “Dealing with Deities.”

Nanshe: Goddess of Social Justice (Sumer)

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Wise and kind Nanshe is well loved by many followers of the Gods of Mesopotamia. Although She is the Goddess of many things, Nanshe is best known as the Goddess of Social Justice. The “Hymn of Nanshe” sings of Her caring for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the war refugee. In contrast, to those who would cheat others, Nanshe is a harsh Goddess.

Her Hymn also alludes to Nanshe as the Guardian of Boundaries and the Lady of the Storerooms. She sets the weights and measures for all to use. By creating standard measurements, the Goddess ensures that no one is cheated. In this manner, Nanshe protects the bounty of the storerooms.

When Enki, her father was organizing the world, He assigned Nanshe to be the Guardian of the Persian Gulf. Besides caring for the sea animals, the Goddess ensures that the fish will feed the people. Since She can converse with animals, Nanshe has the bat, the fish, and pelican as her helpers.

As the Goddess of Dreams and Prophecy, Nanshe counsels both people and the Gods. She helps both to make wise choices. Before asking Her to send them a dream, people would offer prayers and pour out libations. Furthermore, many will ritually clean themselves.

Sumerian tradition says that people who approach Her with pure of heart will be well received. To determine that, a person had to undergo the River Ordeal. They were thrown into a river. If they survived, they were innocent ( called the “Hursan” or “id lu rugu”).

From the “Hymn of Nanshe”
(translated by Samuel Noah Kramer)
[Nanshe is she] who knows the orphan, who knows the widow
Knows the oppression of man over man, is the orphan’s mother
Nanshe, who cares for the widow
Who seeks out justice for the poorest
The queen brings the refugee to her lap
Finds shelter for the weak.
People who, walking in transgression, reached out with a high hand
Who transgress the established norms, violate contracts
Who looked with favor on the places of evil
Who substituted a small weight for a large weight
Who substituted a small measure for a large measure
Who, having eaten something not belonging to him, did not say “I have eaten it”
Who, having drunk, did not say “I have drunk it”
Who said, “I would eat that which is forbidden.”
Who said, “I would drink that which is forbidden.”
To comfort the orphan, to make disappear the widow
To set up a place of destruction for the mighty
To turn over the mighty to the weak
Nanshe searches the heart of the people.