THEOSOPHY, Vol. 44, No. 5, March, 1956
(Pages 226-231; Size: 18K)

ASTROLOGY IN PERSPECTIVE(1)

Though the planets may have no hand in changing the destiny of man, they may indicate his destiny.
--MODERN APHORISM
ASTROLOGY is the science which defines the action of celestial bodies upon mundane affairs, and claims to foretell future events from the position of the stars. True Astrology is a mathematical science which indicates what particular causes will produce certain effects. Its antiquity is such as to place it among the very earliest records of human learning. It remained for a long time a secret science in the East, and belonged to the inner schools. In days of old, astronomy was synonymous with astrology, and the great astrological initiation took place in Egypt at Thebes, where the priests perfected, if they did not wholly invent, the science. The etymological meaning of the word astrology is almost the same as that of astronomy; and there was no clear definition made between the two branches until the time of Galileo. Previously, most students of the movements of heavenly bodies had been more or less astrologers.

Astrology is a science as infallible as astronomy itself, with the condition, however, that its interpreters must be equally infallible. It is this sine qua non condition that has always proved a stumbling block to both. The two sciences are related like soul and body, i.e., astrology is to exact astronomy what psychology is to exact physiology. In astrology and psychology one has to step beyond the visible world of matter, and enter into the domain of the transcendent spirit.

The Egyptians and Chaldees were among the most ancient votaries of astrology, although their modes of reading the stars and the modern practices differ considerably. Astrology was early developed in Egypt, but chiefly flourished in Chaldea, whose star-gazers were so famous that the name Chaldee came to be used as identical with astrologer, not only in the scriptures, but also by classical writers. The Egyptians claimed that Belus (of the dynasty of the King-Gods) which became the Bel of the Chaldees, had belonged to the land of Chemi (Egypt), and had left it to found a colony from Egypt on the banks of the Euphrates. There a temple ministered by priests in the service of the "lords of the stars" was built, the said priests adopting the name of Chaldees. Two things are known: (a) that Thebes in Egypt claimed the honor of the invention of astrology; and (b) that it was the Chaldees who taught that science to other nations. If later on the name of astrologer fell into disrepute, in Imperial Rome -- where the science was much practiced -- and elsewhere, it was owing to the fraud of those who wanted to make money by means of that which was part and parcel of the sacred science of the Mysteries. Ignorant of the latter, they evolved a system based entirely upon mathematics, instead of transcendental metaphysics, and having the physical celestial bodies as its upadhi or material basis.

Yet, notwithstanding persecutions which thereafter took place from time to time, the number of the adherents of astrology among the most intellectual and scientific minds was always very great. The Arabs revived it along with astronomy. The Saracens of Spain held star-divination in the highest reverence, astrology passing into Western Europe through these, our first civilizers. In its day astrology was shown to be as precise and trustworthy in its predictions as astronomical predictions are in our own age. Alphonso, the wise King of Castile and Leon, made himself famous in the thirteenth century by his "Astrological Tables" and his code of the Siata Purtidas. The great astronomer Kepler in the 17th century, the discoverer of the three great laws of planetary motions, believed in and proclaimed astrology as a true science. Kepler, to whom Newton is indebted for all his subsequent discoveries, was mathematician to Emperor Rudolph, and in his official capacity of Imperial astronomer is historically known to have predicted to Wallenstein, from the position of the stars, the issue of the war in which that unfortunate general was engaged. His friend, protector and instructor, the great astronomer Tycho de Brahe, believed in and expanded the astrological system. He was forced to admit the influence of the constellations on terrestrial life because of the constant verification of facts.

Once the probability, or even the possibility of an occult influence exercised by the stars upon the destiny of man is admitted, astrology becomes no less an exact science than astronomy. The earth and all that lives in it are known to be very seriously affected by what takes place on the sun. How much more important the solution of that other mystery -- the undoubted affinity between man and the stars -- an affinity believed in for countless ages and by the most learned among men. According to Theosophical teaching, every race in its evolution is said to be born under the direct influence of one of the planets. The first germ or seed of that which grew later into the Tree of Astrology, is contained in the following statement: "Our earth was created or fashioned by terrestrial spirits, the 'Regents' (thereof) being simply the supervisors." The "Regents" pertain to cosmic evolution and the seven Planets in direct astral and psychic communication with our earth. Humanity, it is said, is divided into seven distinct groups and their subdivisions, mental, spiritual, and physical. Hence the seven chief planets, the spheres of the indwelling seven spirits, under each of which is born one of the human groups which is guided and influenced thereby. There are only seven planets (specially connected with our earth) and twelve houses (Constellations), but the possible combinations of their aspects are countless. As each planet can stand to each of the others in twelve different aspects, their combination must, therefore, be almost infinite. As infinite, in fact, as the spiritual, psychic, mental, and physical capacities of the men on earth, each of which varieties is born under one of the seven planets and one of the said countless planetary combinations.

A true understanding of planetary influences would involve a realization of man's nature in all his constituents, in every principle and element which are those of the solar system to which he belongs. Each of us is a copy of the great Universe. Each of us is connected with every class of beings. Our destiny is "written in the stars" and the chief features of one's life will always be in accordance with the "Constellation" one is born under, or with the characteristics of its animating principle. But fatalism implies a blind course of some still blinder power, and man is a free agent during his stay on earth. The popular idea seems to be that the planets and stars exercise a certain influence upon the destiny of man, which the science of astrology can determine, and that there are means within the reach of that science which can be used to propitiate the "evil stars." This crude notion, not philosophically understood, leads to two unscientific fallacies: (1) to the idea of fatality, or the idea that man has no free will, and (2) that the laws of nature are not immutable since they can be propitiated. The truth, Theosophically stated, is that man cannot escape his ruling destiny, but has the choice of two paths that lead him in that direction. There are external and internal conditions which affect the determination of our will upon our actions, and it is within our power to follow either of the two.

The theory of the sidereal influence on man was enunciated by all the medieval philosophers. "The stars consist equally of the elements of earthly bodies," says Cornelius Agrippa, "and therefore the ideas attract each other." Mesmer in 1775 wrote: "There exists a mutual influence between the heavenly bodies, the earth, and living bodies." Paracelsus says that man is composed of myriads of magnets which attract from their prototypes in the greater cosmic field. "Man," he says, "lives within the invisible world comparable to the yolk in an egg. The chicken grows from the white of the egg and man is nourished by the chaos. Within man are the sun and moon, the planets and all the rest of the stars and also the chaos." This is in accord with the injunctions of the ancient Rishis that before the disciple could proceed he had to learn to see in himself all the planets and stars and beings, the microcosm containing in embryo all that filled the greater macrocosm. "Paracelsus demonstrates that in man lies hidden a 'sidereal force' which is that emanation from the stars and celestial bodies of which the spiritual form of man -- the astral spirit -- is composed ... thus there exists a mutual attraction between the two, both being magnets." He explains that the moon in particular may exercise a very bad influence, especially at the time of the new moon, "which may be very injurious for persons whose astral bodies possess magnetic elements that will attract that influence, and the conjunction of the moon with certain other planets may make her influence still more injurious. For instance, a conjunction of the moon, Venus, and Mars may give rise to the plague; a conjunction with Saturn to certain acute diseases, etc., but no evil influence can develop a disease where the germ of that disease does not already exist." And "no one needs to care for the course of Saturn; it neither shortens nor lengthens the life of anybody."

To make the working of Karma, in the periodical renovations of the universe, more evident and intelligible to the student when he arrives at the origin and evolution of man, he has to examine the esoteric bearing of the Karmic cycles upon universal ethics. The question is, do those mysterious divisions of time called Yugas have any bearing upon, or any connection with human life? Even exoteric philosophy explains that these perpetual circles of time are ever returning on themselves, periodically. There are cycles of matter and cycles of spiritual evolution. The exoteric cycles of every nation are derived from and depend upon sidereal motions. The latter are inseparably blended with the destinies of nations and men. And as the sidereal motions do regulate and determine events on earth, so do these events find themselves determined by even simple astronomical computations.

Scientists today record the periodical events of meteors and comets, and prophesy, in consequence, earthquakes, meteoric showers, the apparition of certain stars. Are they soothsayers for all that? No, they are learned astronomers. Why, then, should occultists and astrologers, as learned, be disbelieved when they prophesy the return of some cyclic events on the same mathematical principle? Their forefathers and predecessors, having recorded the recurrence of such events in their time and day, throughout a period embracing hundreds of thousands of years, the conjunction of the same constellations must necessarily produce, if not quite the same, at any rate similar effects. Yet, in the prognostication of such future events, all foretold on the authority of cyclic recurrences, there is no psychic phenomena involved. It is neither prevision, nor prophecy, no more than is the signalling of a comet or star, several years before its appearance. It is simply knowledge and mathematically correct computations. Eastern Initiates claim that they have preserved records of the racial development and of events of universal import ever since the beginning of the Fourth Race.

The fate of the individual, as that of the future, had always a supreme interest and led to the association exoterically, and the knowledge esoterically, of cosmos and man. Belief in and cultivation of astrology was common to the ancient world; in Babylonia, Greece, Rome, in India, China and Egypt it was an adept science. Its influence and scope have been brought into connection with practically every known science which has survived from the past -- botany, chemistry, geology, anatomy, medicine. Colors, metals, stones, plants, drugs, and animal life of all kinds were associated with the planets and placed under their tutelage. The Zodiac was (exoterically) considered as the prototype of the human body, the different parts of which all had their corresponding sections in the Zodiac itself. Kepler, in our 18th century, carried in himself the conviction that each planet was the seat of an intelligent principle, and that the planets are all inhabited by spiritual beings, who exercise influence over other beings inhabiting more gross and material spheres than their own, especially our earth. Yet Kepler was not an astrologer, but a wise astronomer. Kepler's spiritual starry influences were superseded by the vortices of the more materialistic Descartes. Similarly the vortices of the latter and his astronomical doctrines may some day give place to the true archaic teachings and ancient structure underlying ASTROLOGY -- namely, to the intelligent magnetic streams which are directed by the Anima Mundi, the Soul of the World.

The place of Astrology being laid down in outline, its import to society and the individual in relation to the larger life and destiny of the human family clearly illustrated, should one endeavor to become an astrologer? Such should become his endeavor. Astrology is as much the study of inner man as of inner cosmos. But books which pretend to give rules will not become his true monitors. The theosophically inclined are directed toward more comprehensive effort, and are told first of all to try to discover the fine line of duty that is their own path. They should leave the astrologers of today who are more at sea than any other mystics, "to con over a Zodiac which is out of place and calculate with tables which delude with the subtle power that figures have to lie when the basis of calculation is wrong."

"We must recollect that the ancients always considered the 'ambient' -- or the entire heavens -- at birth, as being that which affected man, and that planets were only the pointers or indices showing when and where the influence of the 'ambient' would be felt. They have thus come to leave out influences cast by powerful stars which often produce effects not to be sought for under planets. The planets were held to be only foci 'for the influence of the whole ambient,' having however a power of their own of a secondary nature exercisable when the ambient influence was weak.

"When London was burned a mighty star -- not a planet -- had rule, and Napoleon was prefigured by a star also, his fall being due to the aspects of the heavens as a whole. Similarly, the vicissitudes of this globe will not be shown by any planetary scheme, but by certain stars that fix the destiny of this poor Earth."


COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:

The face of external nature teaches the lesson with calm superiority. Nature will not have us fret and fume. She does not like our benevolence or our learning much better than she likes our frauds and wars. When we come out of the caucus, or the band, or the Abolition convention, or the Temperance meeting, or the Transcendental club, into the fields and woods, she says to us, "So hot? my little sir." 


--EMERSON

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