Religion

Christmas Stories

Is the story about a baby named Jesus born to a virgin named Mary on the 25th December in a manger in Bethlehem literally true?

Doubtful.

Even the Bible provides plainly conflicting nativity narratives. In the Gospel of Matthew we have a magnificent star and three wise men bearing gifts. Yet, nowhere in that text do we encounter a manger. For that we require the story as told in the Gospel of Luke. But there, unfortunately, the gift-bearing wise men have been replaced by shepherds and that magnificent star morphed into an angel. Although some gloss over this inconsistency, academically minded theologians do not. They have always accepted that where these stories conflict, then at least one of them cannot be literally true.

Realising that understanding the Word of God requires more than the literality of the texts, early and medieval Christian scholars developed the allegorical method of reading scripture.

By the time of Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, the four levels of hermeneutic, by which scripture is still interpreted had become widely accepted:

  • The letter teaches you the facts,
  • Allegory what you should believe,
  • Morality how you should act,
  • Anagoge what to hope for.

The idea was to bring the Old and New Laws (Testaments) into unity through a double structure of prophecy.

Since the events of the Old Testament prefigure the mission of Christ, the Old Law is a prophecy of the New (allegory). In turn, the New Law is a prophecy of the Kingdom of Heaven upon Earth at the Second Coming (anagoge). Understanding the allegories of the Bible is also the gateway to the moral meaning of the various stories and a guide to Christian conduct (tropological or moral image of the ‘Truth’). For ordinary priests, who might find the four levels hermeneutic unduly challenging, standard interpretations of Bible stories were devised to aid with the anagogic (mystery interpretations).

But this was does not mean that you need to accept these standard stories as the ‘gospel truth’.

For example, the facts pertaining to the life of Jesus as we know them could be interpreted as a patchwork of events in the lives of those who came before him: born to a carpenter and a virgin, like Krishna; born on the 25th December, like Mithras: announced by a star in the East, like Horus: walking on water and feeding five thousand from a small basket, like Buddha; performing miracles, like Pythagoras; raising the dead, like Elisha; executed on a tree, like Adonis; and ascending to Heaven like Hercules, Enoch, and Elijah.

Looking at the Nativity through a similar lens, then in Mary we might sense the presence of Isis; in Joseph, we might see Osiris, the patriarch with the crooked staff. How about finding the luminous babe in the manger to be like Krishna? We can even find the ox in the zodiac sign of Taurus and the ass in the zodiac sign of Aires, both ages leading to the, then, new Age of Pisces. 

What if the guiding star of the wise men is the spirit of Zarathustra or the angel announcing the birth, the spirit of the Buddha? What if one of the wise men was Pythagoras reincarnated? What if the wise men had been initiated by the prophet, Daniel? What if instead of one Jesus, there were two as depicted in the Leonardo Cartoon in London’s National Gallery as well as on the north portal at Chartres?

What if…, well, I think that you get the idea.

May peace be with you this holiday season and may hermeneutics take you as far as you’re willing to go.

Astrology

When the ‘sun is spent’…

One of the perennial philosophies asserts that only in eternity (i.e. God, Plato’s forms, Aristotelian essences) can constancy be found. All else is subject to mutability, change as the result of time.

In Book Eleven of his Confessions, St Augustine questioned time in relation to God (the stable Truth) and His creation of the temporal world. He concluded that time – past, present and future – could be nothing more than a conscious act of human representation.

Whether or not this is true, I suggest that at least in his secular poetry, John Donne, the metaphysical English Renaissance poet, shrewdly manipulates his representations of time in order to explore ideas about constancy and mutability in new and thought-provoking ways.

One of the most interesting, at least for this time of the year, comes with his poem A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day, in which Donne uses the winter solstice to help his speaker come to grips with a difficult situation.

Someone important to the speaker, likely a lover or former lover (suggested by the speaker’s address to ‘other lovers’), has died.

It is indeed a dark time.

Yet the cycle of death is now complete – ‘this time to the Goat is run’ – (i.e. at the winter solstice, the sun enters Capricorn, ‘The Goat’, in order to die and be reborn). Because ‘spring’ is connected through rhyme with ‘thing’ (‘I am every dead thing’), there is hope of regeneration not only for the sun but for the speaker as well. In turn, this will ‘fetch new lust’ (the goat being associated with the genitals and the union of male and female powers).

The desolate speaker takes solace from the next (‘summer’) solstice – ‘let me prepare towards her’ (emphasis added) for after ‘midnight’ comes the new day.


With this, Donne has effectively reset the clock and put the difficult situation into new perspective and with similar reflection, you can do the same.


With Saturn and Pluto coming ever closer form their historic conjunction in Capricorn in mid January 2020, we can expect this solstice to be both a time of crisis and contraction. On so many levels, it spells the end of innocence, the end of an era that as with the speaker in Donne’s poem, we have little choice but to face with honesty and humility. Just as St Augustine reminds us, all in our temporal, material wold is subject to change as the result of time.

Yet as with Donne’s poem, this solstice offers the opportunity of true transcendence and healing if, and only if, we choose it to be.

Intention matters.


‘Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s,
Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
         The sun is spent, and now his flasks
         Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
                The world’s whole sap is sunk;
The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed’s feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr’d; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compar’d with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring;
         For I am every dead thing,
         In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
                For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness;
He ruin’d me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death: things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that’s good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;
         I, by Love’s limbec, am the grave
         Of all that’s nothing. Oft a flood
                Have we two wept, and so
Drown’d the whole world, us two; oft did we grow
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death (which word wrongs her)
Of the first nothing the elixir grown;
         Were I a man, that I were one
         I needs must know; I should prefer,
                If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love; all, all some properties invest;
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light and body must be here.

But I am none; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
         At this time to the Goat is run
         To fetch new lust, and give it you,
                Enjoy your summer all;
Since she enjoys her long night’s festival,
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year’s, and the day’s deep midnight is.

A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day, being the shortest day – John Donne

Astrology

The Christmas Star (Part IV)

The Christmas Star is one of the holiday season’s most fascinating and enduring stories. Yet even today, astronomers remain uncertain as to the precise nature of the heavenly event that inspired it.

In a series of blog posts, I’ll be reviewing some key pieces of evidence supporting several of the most likely contenders along with some traditional and not so traditional interpretations. 


Previously

A few days ago, we investigated the messianic biblical prophecy of Balaam (Numbers 24.17) and how it may be connected, through the Magi, to one of the strongest contenders, a triple Saturn/Jupiter conjunction in Pisces in 06/07 BC. 

Yet, because such conjunctions are not really all that rare, the question then became whether or not something else might have been going on. There was and it had to do with how the Magi referred to only as an amorphous group became three. Not only that, but these three magi, or wise men brought gifts. They also saved the baby Jesus from the clutches of blood-thirsty Kind Herod.

But just when the political machinations of this story found in the Gospel of Matthew reached its peak, we had to consider a completely different version, that found in the Gospel of Luke. Gone now is all reference to the magi, their gifts, Herod, and even our Christmas Star. We are instead presented with shepherds, an angel, and a ‘concerned’ Mary and Joseph.

Veering away from astrological interpretations, early Christian writers steered followers toward seeing the Christmas star as a miracle, free from any heavenly signs and accompanying ideas of fate or destiny. This naturally led to the suggestion that the heavenly event in question was a comet, for which there seemed sufficient historical and biblical evidence.

Yet this interpretation created its own set of problems, not the least of which involved the symbol of the virgin Mary giving birth with the crescent moon under her feet (as described in Revelations). Add to that no one had yet managed to fit the pericope of Luke, with the shepherds and an angel rather than Magi and a star into the picture, and everything seems a right muddle.


Although tempting, it would be a mistake to view this through a modern lens.


Hellenistic thinking

There is significant evidence that along with the rest of the New Testament, both the Gospel of Matthew and Luke were originally penned in Greek. This suggests that Hellenistic thinking, including Hellenistic astrology, itself laden with anthropomorphic Mesopotamian sky narratives, probably influenced these biblical texts.

This is important.

Not only were the constellations comprising the Mesopotamian zodiac different from those of our modern zodiac,  but celestial prophecy regarding that zodiac was not only prevalent, but also taken seriously.

In his book, Astrological Reports to Assyrian Kings, Hermann Hunger, an Austrian authority on Babylonian astrology and celestial omens, provides several relevant examples:

  • ‘If the stars of Orion [known to the Babylonians as The Shepherd of Anu] keep gaining radiance: an important person will become too mighty and commit evil. – Venus stands in front of Orion.”
  • The priest Bullutu records a bright Venus in the ‘Crook’, known later as Auriga, the Charioteer and writes of this combination, ‘the foundation of the throne will become stable.’
  • ‘If Orion [known to the Babylonians as The Shepherd of Anu] comes close to the moon; the days of the reign of the king will become long…’
  • ‘If Ada thunders in the middle of Taurus [the Cosmic Bull], the king will conquer a country not belonging to him.’

Putting it all together

On 1 May 7 BC, there was a new moon along with the first of the three Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions.
  • Immediately afterwards, the planet Venus, as the evening star, was just above the crescent moon, in the stars of the Shepherd of Anu,
  • While the Sun, the king, was in Taurus just setting at the horizon, close by.
  • We now have all the elements central to the nativity pericope in Luke: shepherds, cattle, and a stable (as foundation of the throne).


In Venus, the evening star, we may also have found the ‘woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet’ as noted in Revelations 12:1-5 (RSV).

Could it be that in some sense, both the apparently conflicting bible versions (Luke and Matthew) of the birth of could be true, as sky narratives, recording through visual celestial symbolism the story of the birth of the Christ and the attendant Christmas Star?

Better yet, should any or all of this be considered as having fulfilled the prophecy of Balaam:

…a star shall come for out of Jacob and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel…

Numbers 24:17 (RSV)

Interesting, the word ‘sceptre’ originally meant a rod or staff. In the Old Testament, it was thus specifically applied to the shepherd’s crook, which was considered an insignia of supreme power:

And all the tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord.

Leviticus 27:32 (RSV)

Shepherd thy people with thy staff, the flock of thy inheritance…

Micah 7:14 (RSV)

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

Genesis 49:10 (RSV)

Conclusion

As it is impossible to reach any definitive inclusions about the real nature of the Christmas Star, I invite you to consider what has been presented over this four-part series of posts and make up your own minds as how best to interpret all the possibilities and the evidence. Also, when you next sing about shepherds who watch their flocks or three kings bearing gifts, I invite you to consider the cultural role that such celestial symbolism still plays 2,000 years after the historical event that it depicts.

Astrology

Ms S gets a new friend!

Ms S has a new friend, Mr T, and she’s keen to understand how their relationship might pan out.


First, let’s take a closer look at Mr T:

  1. With Virgo rising, this fellow is practical to a fault – the devil is in the detail although with Mercury, the chart ruler, in Pisces this particular ‘devil’ may become a masterful piece of art.
  2. With Mercury in Pisces, we might expect Mr T to be perceptive, emotional, and contradictory. He could well have problems with boundaries as well as a tendency toward secrecy. Scattered thinking is a distinct possibility and so warning to Ms S – what you hear from him is not necessarily what you’ll get.
  3. Having said that, Mr T is both creative and intuitive if not downright telepathic. He craves emotional closeness and knows just when, where, and how to get it.
  4. This Mercury has the added ‘advantage’ of being closely square with Neptune, the ruler of Pisces and so we have a double dose of Pisces but not always in the easiest way to handle it. Stretching the truth, whether done consciously or unconsciously, is often the order of the day with this placement as well as being vague and succumbing to numerous digressions that likely lead nowhere.
  5. Put this together with a natal Sun (Aquarius) in close proximity to Jupiter and we find an individual with full faith that all will turn out right in the end (in his favor) but little ability and/or will-power to make it happen.
  6. Key words for Aquarius include dispassionate, impersonal, nonconformist, observant, and idealistic. Aquarius is not usually too concerned with the view others hold of him and in the case of Mr T, this could prove a god-send.
  7. Saturn, the ruler of his Aquarian Sun, is in Gemini. As is always the case with Saturn, we must remember he’s both a friend and a foe. With one hand, Saturn gives the structure and strength necessary to succeed in life but with the other, Saturn makes one feel like a foolish failure. With Saturn in Gemini, we might expect Mr T to be a workaholic, possibly a generalized overcompensation for feeling less than clever and articulate. This placement suggests difficulties with sharing and learning, whether real or perceived.
  8. Finally, his Venus (in Capricorn, also Saturn ruled) is closely square to Uranus. When it comes to love, this man gets easily restless and so conventional long-term relationships are probably not his cup of tea. Things will improve significantly, however, with plenty ‘time off’ and ‘space’ for personal freedom – with Mr T, ‘absence probably does make the heart grow fonder.

More tomorrow we will continue our analysis with synastry analysis and composite chart!

Astrology

The Christmas Star (Part III)

The Christmas Star is one of the holiday season’s most fascinating and enduring stories. Yet even today, astronomers remain uncertain as to the precise nature of the heavenly event that inspired it.

In a series of blog posts, I’ll be reviewing some key pieces of evidence supporting several of the most likely contenders along with some traditional and not so traditional interpretations. 


A few days ago, we investigated the messianic biblical prophecy of Balaam (Numbers 24.17) and how it may be connected, through the Magi, to one of the strongest contenders, a triple Saturn/Jupiter conjunction in Pisces in 06/07 BC. 

Yet, because such conjunctions are not really all that rare, the question then became whether or not something else might have been going on. Turns out that there was and it had to do with how the Magi, once an amorphous group of wise men, became only three. Not only that, but these three magi brought important gifts to the new born king. They also saved the baby Jesus from the clutches of yet another king, the blood-thirsty Herod.

But just as it was all beginning to fit together nicely, we had to consider a completely different version of the story, as found in the Gospel of Luke. With this, all reference to the magi, their gifts, Herod, and even our Christmas Star have disappeared. Instead, we are presented with shepherds and a harking angel.

What would the early Christian writers make of this muddle and how might it effect our thinking about the Christmas Star?

_________________

Until Ignatius of Antioch ( c. 35 or 50 CE – 89-117 CE), there was no Christmas Star, at least not in its current incarnation. It was with his Letter to Ephesians that the star as we now know it first appeared in an early marketing campaign for Christianity. In the view of Ignatius, the ‘star’ in question was a miracle not a predictable planetary configuration, a sign from the heavens that with the birth of Christ, mankind was set free from the historical bonds of magic and (astrologically inspired) fate.

A star shone forth in the heaven about all the stars: and its light was unutterable, and its strangeness caused amazement; and all the rest of the constellations with the sun and moon formed themselves into a chorus about the star…

From that time forward every sorcery and every spell was dissolved, the ignorance of wickedness vanished away…

Letter to Ephesians (19:2-3) – Lightfoot Translation

Following the lead of Ignatius, Origen (184 -253 AD), another early Christian writer, introduced the idea that the inspirational heavenly event in question was indeed not planetary in nature but instead a comet.

We consider that the star that was seen ‘at its rising’ was a new star, and not like any of the normal celestial bodies…

We have read in the book called Concerning Comets by Chaeremon the Stoic that at times comets have appeared when good events were about to occur.

Why would it be a great surprise that a star should have appeared at the birth of one who was going to introduce new ideas to the human race and to reveal his teaching not only to Jews, but also to Greeks, and to many barbarian nations in addition?

Now I would point out with respect to comets that there is no prophecy about comets in circulation stating that such and such a comet would appear at the rise of a particular kingdom or at a particular time. However, the star which appeared at Jesus’ birth had been prophesied by Balaam, recorded by Moses, when he said ‘A star shall appear out of Jacob, and a man shall rise up out of Israel.’

Contra Celsum 1:58-59

With this, both Balaam and the pericope of Matthew are covered. Even better, in 5BC, well within the required time frame, astronomers in China, had recorded a bright comet constellation of Capricorn in 5BC.

Here’s additional Biblical support for the comet theory:

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. And another portent appeared in heaven: behold a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne.

Revelations 12: 1-5 (RSV)

The argument is that only a comet could appear as herein described. Indeed, Balaam’s mysterious reference to a ‘star’ and ‘scepter’ also fits to the appearance of a comet in the sense that at a key state of its apparition, a comet would look like a scepter.

Yet another biblical passage adds support:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light: those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.

Isaiah 9: 2 (RSV)

Probably no one has done more to promote the comet hypothesis than Giotto di Bondone (1266/17 – 1337), the medieval Italian artist. His fresco entitled ‘the Adoration of the Magi’ in Padua portrayed the Christmas Star as a comet.


But if we are to embrace the comet theory, it appears we must also forgo the pericope in Luke with its shepherds and announcing angel. Indeed, might that not be what Ignatius wanted? And quite how are we to accommodate, the mother of Jesus, giving birth with the moon under her feet as described in Revelations?

Astrology

The Christmas Star (Part II)

The Christmas Star is one of the holiday season’s most fascinating and enduring stories. Yet even today, astronomers remain uncertain as to the precise nature of the heavenly event that inspired it.

In a series of blog posts, I’ll be reviewing some key pieces of evidence supporting several of the most likely contenders along with some traditional and not so traditional interpretations.


Yesterday, we investigated the messianic biblical prophecy of Balaam (Numbers 24.17) and how it may be connected, through the Magi, to one of the strongest contenders, a triple Saturn/Jupiter conjunction in Pisces in 06/07 BC.

Yet, because such conjunctions are not really all that rare, the question then became whether or not something else might have been going on.

____________

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) suggested that there was.

After witnessing a conjunction of the three superior planets, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in 1603, Kepler calculated that this event also occurred in 06/07 BC. Given that this happens only once in 796.4 years, it seems a better fit to the long-awaited ‘star’ prophesied by Balaam. Better yet, it provides evidence for the Western tradition that there were three magi who visited Jesus after his birth.

Interestingly, nowhere in the Bible does it specifically state that there were three magi. This notion must, however, have come from someplace and Hellenistic astrological thinking of the time might provide a clue.

Not only was there a triple conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter but now we have three powerful planets involved in what Ptolemy (c. 87-150) called a doryphory, or a train of important planetary attendants in service to one of the two luminaries (i.e. the sun or the moon). The very nature of the planets comprising a doryphory is that they bring useful gifts to the luminary, and, in the case of our magi, the gifts brought to the luminary (the son or Sun), Jesus, the new king, were three: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

And lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy: and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew 2:9-11 (RSV)

With the Matthean pericope, featuring the gift-bearing magi, the plot thickens as we now must account for King Herod.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him.’

Matthew 2: 1-3 (RSV)

Historically, it is accepted that Christ was born during the lifetime of Herod, which is generally acknowledged to have died around 04 BC. So far, so good because the conjunction of the three superior planets that so impressed Johannes Kepler, occurred prior to the death of Herod in 06-07 BC. This would also seem to support theory of the triple conjunction of Jupiter/Saturn that otherwise fit in with Balaam’s prophecy. If we recall, that triple conjunction is clearly noted to have also occurred in 07-06 BC.

Yet when we delve deeper, we also learn that prior to visiting Bethlehem, our wise men, or Magi, first visited Herod. Doubtless when Herod asked them to locate the child and then return with the news so that he too could worship the child, they were pleased. But after having paid homage to the child and delivered their gifts, they ‘departed to their own country by another way’, having been tipped off ‘in a dream not to return to Herod’. Later, according to the Matthean pericope, Herod was not best pleased with this turn of events and ordered the death of ‘all male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under’.

Clearly the Magi and Herod are key players in the story as reported by Matthew although there is little or no historical evidence that Herod actually ordered the reported infanticide. Furthermore, there is even a suggestion that Herod and the Magi (three or not) do not form part of this picture at all. Not only that but, the star seems to have disappeared altogether, potentially replaced by a shining angel.

And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and their were filled with fear.

And the angel said to them, ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to a all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to another ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this this that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

Luke 2:8-20 (RSV)

These two biblical accounts could not be more different. Luke’s is humble, peaceful, and low-key in direct contrast to that of Matthew which is driven by the high political stakes tension of Herod’s reaction to the new born child.

What will early Christian writers make of all this?

The plot thickens more.

Astrology

The Christmas Star (Part I)

The Christmas Star is one of the holiday season’s most fascinating and enduring stories. Yet even today, astronomers remain uncertain as to the precise nature of the heavenly event that inspired it.

In a series of several blog posts, I’ll be reviewing some key pieces of evidence supporting several of the most likely contenders along with some traditional and not so traditional interpretations.


Let’s get started:

‘… a star shall come forth out of Jacob and a scepter shall rise out of Israel…’

Numbers 24.17 (RSV)

This is the messianic prophecy of Balaam (a diviner in the Torah) who, according to Ambrose of Milan (330-397) and Origen of Adamantius (184/5-253/4), was an ancestor of the race of Magi, an ancient priestly caste flourishing on the eastern edge of the Roman Empire.

Evidence suggests the Magi had long awaited the fulfillment of their ancestor’s prophecy. According to the writings of Strabo (43 or 63 BC – c 24 CE), just prior to the birth of Christ the official duties of the Magi included the election of the king of the Parthian empire (a major political power in ancient Iran). Hence not only were Balaam’s Magi sky-watching priests (experts in Mesopotamian astrology) but they also had considerable experience in the business of kingmaking.

Since the Sumerian period ( 3500-2300 BC) planetary tables recorded on clay tablets predicted the future movements of the planets and one such tablet dated from 08 BCE listed a forthcoming Jupiter/Saturn conjunction.

For Balaam’s star prophecy to be fulfilled, the birth of Christ needed to be at night even though at the time, all divine births (i.e. Augustus and Nero) were linked with solar deities and needed to occur at either sunrise or noon. The triple conjunction of Jupiter/Saturn in 07-06 BC was a highly anticipated sky event the fit the bill. Both planets were easily seen by the naked eye in the night sky yet in Mesopotamian astrology,  both Jupiter and Saturn were associated with powerful solar deities  (Marduk and Ninib, accordingly).

Not only that, but this conjunction occurred in the constellation of Pisces, the one of the most ancient of the twelve zodiac signs (first appearing on an Egyptian coffin lid dated c. 2,300 BC) which has since become most closely associated with the Christ.


If one looks closely at the glyph of Pisces, you’ll find that one fish is moving upwards whilst the other is moving parallel with the earth plane.


The symbolism here has been characterized as a formal embodiment of spirit, the penetration and materialization of spirit into the world of duality and form.

And the Word [of God] became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

John 1: 14 (RSV)

As you can see, this all is quite tempting.

Yet conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn are of themselves not really so rare, occurring every 20 years. True, a triple conjunction makes it a bit more rare and adding in that it would happen in Pisces would make it even more rare. But then Balaam doesn’t seem to have stipulated the necessity of Pisces any more more than he specified that Jupiter/Saturn had to be involved.

So was this particular celestial the subject of Balaam’s ancient prophecy?

Or was something else going on?

Astrology

A Day of Thanksgiving & the Pilgrim’s Pride

In the United States, today is Thanksgiving – a day to give thanks – as well a day to remember the pilgrims who arrived there in 1620. This small band of men and women endured many hardships in order that they might practice their own religion without persecution and for that, we continue to applaud them.

Whilst you’re digesting your turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie, might you be interested in delving deeper?

Sure, why not – let’s give it a try.


I think it no accident that the pilgrims in question set out from England with the start of a new Jupiter/Pluto cycle:

  • Pluto = fanaticism, obsession, compulsion, and power.
  • Jupiter = relaxed liberalism, tolerance and good will.

Jupiter most certainly can be taken to suggest the strongly-held religious beliefs of the Pilgrims with Pluto representing the Church of England, which after many gyrations (Catholic/Protestant and back again), they found to be impossibly corrupt.

Little wonder.


With the death of Elizabeth I (who had restored the country to Protestantism after the death of her Catholic half-sister, Mary I), James I of England (James VI of Scotland) took the throne. He had been baptized Roman Catholic but was a practicing Protestant and so the Catholic/Protestant conflict raged on.

Initially, Elizabeth I had taken the position of Moderate Protestantism, a comprise that took the middle ground and allowed the Catholics to practice their religion, as long as they kept their heads down. This was too much for some but not enough for others and so eventually after 1580, the noose around the necks of the Catholics was tightened by the government, whether Elizabeth liked it or not.

Willingly or otherwise, James took the same approach, reinforcing ever more strict penalties against the Catholics whilst at the same time seeking a Spanish wife for his son, Charles, which understandably fueled fears that Catholicism would be the state religion again. By 1620, the situation had become impossible. If the Catholics were too bold and brash and mystical for some tastes, Luther and Calvin and the religions they’d spawned were too mean and harsh for others. The government was expected to intervene (again), and it did effectively becoming, at least in regards to religion, a police state.


This is the essence of the Jupiter/Pluto cycle, political power struggles, intense beliefs, and fundamentalism, as a response to fear and uncertainty.

The last Jupiter/Pluto cycle that commenced in 2007 is drawing now to a close. Consider any and all similarities between that time and that experienced by those pilgrims when in 1620, they’d finally had enough.

Next consider that the next Jupiter/Pluto cycle commences in March 2020 in addition to a heavy-hitter conjunction between Pluto/Saturn (the need for endings) in Capricorn in January 2020. The pilgrims did not have to deal with Pluto/Saturn but we will. To give you a taste of what that might entail, consider that a Pluto/Saturn cycle in Capricorn has not occurred since January 1518, just two months after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg. Thus began the Protestant Revolution that not only radically changed the face of world politics but also fueled those pilgrims to leave home.


Can we expect to see another wave of pilgrims, setting off from regimes they find too intolerant for their taste? Your guess is as good as mine but I’m willing to bet that we’re already seeing the beginning of it with immigrants fleeing…ah, but then you don’t necessarily want to reflect on that on a day of thanks giving do you or, then again, maybe you do?!

Astrology

UK General Election / 12 December 2019

Summary

All change! The end of the current Conservative status quo is in sight but it won’t be pretty. Expect reputations ruined and careers terminated in a flurry of victimization, dirty deals, and scapegoating. The people will have soundly voted against the current government but things will not turn out as they’d hoped or expected. This heralds a brand-new day in British politics, a completely new cycle. Optimism abounds but, unfortunately, is short-lived.

Discussion

The key to this chart (set for when the polls close) is the close conjunction of Venus/Pluto/Saturn in Capricorn in the 5th house. Also, of note is that earlier in the day there was a full moon – i.e. when the Sun and Moon are in complete opposition.

  • The Saturn/Pluto cycle is about the need for endings – the status quo is no longer viable and is swept away to make room for a new political order for the future.
  • This conjunction of Saturn/Pluto comes exact in January 2020 but be prepared for the outcome of this election to set the tone for what is later to come.
  • The last time there was a Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn was in January 1518, just two months after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg and began the Protestant Revolution that radically changed the face of world politics. The Catholic Church, the then prevailing ‘big government’ had abused its power too many times and so came to an end.
  • Capricorn symbolises not only government and similar bureaucratic structures like the Catholic Church but more specifically conservative governments/structures.
  • Put all this together and it’s likely that we will see the end of the current Conservative government, which arguably has also abused its power.
  • That Venus (which speaks to a nation’s resources) is involved suggests that current Conservative policies re: the national resources has come to an end.
  • Add to that all that planetary energy in the 5th house which among other things is linked with financial speculation and we can expect that current Conservative policies (or those individuals/institutions behind them) that have basically been throwing the ‘dice’ with the nation’s resources will be resoundingly finished. Was the NHS (National Heath Service) really up for sale under the current Conservative administration?
  • The new world-order that is in the making from the ‘ashes’ of the soon-to-be failed Conservative policies might well have something to do with the very prominent Jupiter/Uranus trine (hope/possibility/optimistic rebellion) which also touches the 5th house and the 9th house (foreign relations). Interestingly, the Jupiter/Uranus trine ties very tightly in with the Ascendant, or the cusp of the 1st house, which speaks to the national identity and outlook. We can see the fruits of the whatever was unleashed at the start of this current Jupiter/Uranus cycle in 2010, with the UK general election that is known as ‘the day that changed politics forever’ when the Conservatives (David Cameron) were forced to form a government with the Lib Dems (Nick Clegg). Perhaps this is an indication that the electorate is again so unhappy with any of the party manifestos that a coalition government will again be necessary?
  • It is also worth noting that earlier in the day, there was a full moon. As is often the case, the full moon often serves as the trigger of planetary patterns. In this regard, the voters/common people (Moon) are in OPPOSITION to the sitting government (the Sun) and this has manifested in an outcome that quick frankly, not many will have expected.
Astrology

Female US President?

Will Elizabeth Warren become 1st US female president?


SUMMARY

Probably, but because the chart itself is in questionable territory, if Ms Warren were to become president, the road leading to that position will take unpredictable and highly emotional – COMBUSTIVE – twists and turns.


FIT for PURPOSE

The Moon in this chart is in the Via Combusta.

  • In many horary circles, this would suggest the chart is unfit to be read.
  • Others suggest that the chart is worth reading to get the lay of the land but the issue involved is likely very unsettled – i.e. combustible, literally likely to blow up.
  • Still others suggest that the Via Combusta Moon acts like Moon conjunct Uranus, suggesting sudden, unpredictable and contrary twists and turns. 

DETAILS

Keeping the above warning in mind, let’s see where this chart might take us.

  • With Taurus on the cusp of the 7th house, Warren is symbolised by Venus who is very strong in Libra, a sign that she rules.
  • The US presidency is symbolised by Mercury because the cusp of the 10th house is Virgo, a sign ruled by Mercury.
  • Mercury moves faster than Venus and so the two will not make the desired conjunction.
  • Luckily using a technique known as translation of light, the separating aspect of Mercury and Venus can still be made good. In this case, the Moon – which moves faster than both Mercury and Venus – carries the ‘light’ from Venus to Mercury, rather like the passing of a baton in a relay race. This brings Venus and Mercury favourably back into connection again. The classical application of this technique requires that Venus (the slower planet) must receive the translating planet (Moon) in one of its essential dignities which it does (Venus rules Libra).
  • This means that – YES – Ms Warren will indeed become the 1st female president of the United States if, and only if, this chart is fit for purpose to be read.
  • The aspects made overall by the Moon in a horary chart tell the unfolding story:
    • The first aspect made by the Moon was a conjunction with the Sun which is not favourable. Any planet coming in direct close contact with the Sun is ‘burned’ and suffers grave misfortune. Perhaps this is indicative of what appears to some as the ‘sacrifice’ of Joe Bidden by the Democratic party in respect to what is quickly being referred to as #ukrainegate. 
    • The next aspect made by the Moon was a square to Saturn which is pretty much bad for everything and especially bad for all things Saturnine, which includes governments. 
    • The next aspect that will be made by the Moon is a sextile to Jupiter, which indicates a favourable time for decision-making as well as legal transactions. Keeping in mind this chart is about Ms Warren and her bid for the presidency, this might suggest that the Democratic party will decide to endorse her instead of Biden as the legal challenge relating to #ukrainegate tips in her favour.
    • The next and final aspect that will be made by the Moon is a conjunction with Mercury which will be favourable for communications, contracts, and commercial transactions. Might we be expecting a message from the Democratic party leadership endorsing Ms Warren in the next 10 days or possibly 10 weeks?
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