HISTORY OF ASTROLOGY
JUDAISM & CHRISTIANITY
Nancy B. Detweiler, M.Ed., M.Div.
Say the word astrology in religious circles and I am most likely to hear the comment: “That’s pagan” or “We aren’t allowed to study astrology.”
In an effort to discover why an ancient, extremely accurate science is considered pagan and taboo by the present Judaeo-Christian community, I discovered some very interesting information. I offer a portion of that information in this article.
(Excerpt from my article “Astrology: Sacred Or Taboo?”)
Astrology and astronomy were established as sciences around 5000 B.C.E. in Chaldea and Babylonia.26 Many of the great names in the history of our world civilization were astrologers. Our Western history books simply call them philosophers, astronomers, doctors of medicine, theologians, politicians, mathematicians—ignoring the fact that astrology played a major role in their lives and thinking.
Born in 572 B.C.E., Pythagoras, as a result of his study of the heavenly configurations, knew the Earth is round. Many of our history books ignore this fact. Through his study of the stars and their relationship to humanity (the science of astrology), Pythagoras developed his doctrine of the harmony existing between the heavens and our planet Earth, the macrocosm of the universe and the microcosm of humanity. After his murder, Empedocles, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle continued the study of this doctrine.27 Aristotle taught that our planet is inescapably linked to the motions of the cosmos of which it is a member.28
From the earliest times, doctors of medicine are fascinated by the science of astrology. Hippocrates, born around 460 B.C.E. and known as the “Father of Medicine,” used astrology as the most scientific means of diagnosis available to the Greek physicians of his time. The Hippocratic School of Medicine focused on the study of the natal chart to determine the specific make-up of their parents.29 Galen, born in 30 C.E., is called the “Father of Experimental Physiology.” His treatise Prognostication of Disease by Astrology resulted in widespread knowledge of astrological medicine. A synthesis of medical thought and astrological medical knowledge, Galen’s books dominated the field of medicine for 1500 years.30
Born around 100 C.E., Ptolemy had the reputation for being the greatest astrologer/astronomer of all times. During Ptolemy’s day, “astrologia” and “astronomia” meant the same thing.31 His Tetrabiblos marked the culmination of astrological thought in the Graeco-Roman world. This book marked the end of the controversy concerning astrology. Tetrabiblos laid the foundation for the modern science of astrology. From that point on to the 17th century, astrology and medicine were allies.32
(Endnotes #26-32 refer to: Zohar, The History of Astrology)
Sometime before the 1st century, Jewish synagogues were formed. Their time of origin is unknown; however, by the 1st century they had become a well-developed part of Jewish culture. (Harper’s Dictionary of the Bible)
Astrology had played a role in Jewish history for at least the 2,000 years of the Age of Aries. Humanity assimilates the characteristics of the zodiac age in which they live. During the 2,000 years before Jesus incarnated (the Age of Aries), an important part of Jewish worship was animal sacrifice. The zodiac symbol for Aries is the ram. Ritual animal sacrifice ended when the Temple in Jerusalem was burned in 70 C.E. (A.D.) By then a new 2,000 years period—the Age of Pisces—had begun.
Jesus, a Jew, incarnated at the beginning of the Age of Pisces. The zodiac symbol for Pisces is the fish. Jesus called his disciples “fishers of men.” During the Roman persecutions of Christians, they adopted the symbol of fish as a means of communicating who they were. The fish continues as a symbol for Christianity to the present day.
Jesus pointed his disciples to the next New Age in Mark 14:13 and Luke 22:10. When it came time to prepare for the Passover Meal in Jerusalem, Jesus instructed his disciples: “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him” Since men did not carry water in Jesus’ time, this statement is meant for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. It is a signal that what is about to happen in Jesus’ life has implications for a later age. The Age of Aquarius is now dawning on Earth. The zodiac symbol for Aquarius is a man carrying a jar of water, pouring it out for a thirsty humanity. Jesus’ ministry was that of a Wayshower for humanity. He incarnated to show us the Way to Ascension at the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. The five major events in his life: birth, baptism, transfiguration, crucifixion, and ascension were physical demonstrations of our own individual pathway to ascension. 2012 marks the year in which Earth and her inhabitants are to ascend to higher planes of consciousness.
During the last centuries of the Piscean Age, both Jewish and Christian authorities have had trouble explaining why astrology was removed from their religious traditions. That fact that astrology was previously an integral part of both Judaism and Christianity is irrefutable.
“The basic philosophy of the astrologer is religious, regardless of the religious direction from which he seeks the truth. The basic philosophical thrust of astrology derives from the conviction that the human being, God, and the universe are in some way a unity; that man and universe, if you will, both swim in the sea of space-time whose substance is God.” (Rabbi Joel C. Dobin, To Rule Both Day And Night: Astrology in the Bible, Midrash, & Talmud)
The fundamental role astrology played in Judaism is evident in the mosaic depiction of the zodiac on the floors of ancient synagogues. We cannot look at the evidence and try to explain it away because the artwork does not reflect our own views. The Old Testament character, Daniel, was described: “There is a man in your kingdom who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father he was found to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners.” (Daniel 5:11) Daniel was an astrologer. The Wise Men who came to behold Jesus were astrologers.
The photos below reveal the ruins of the Hammath-Tiberias synagogue, used between the 3rd – 8th centuries.
The Mosaic Zodiac on the Floor of the Hammath-Tiberias Synagogue near Tiberias on the western coast of the Sea of Galilee
(Above photos made by Nancy Detweiler)
“That all-in-existence is subject to God’s will is an essential beginning for the astrologer: ‘One Creator, One Creation’ should be the mantra for every astrologer! For, combining this latest statement with its forerunner—then man, God, and universe are an essential unity—allows the astrologer to seek in the Heavens for the evidence of God’s will for mankind, which will help the individual person as well as the community realize and act on the basic religious statement: ‘Make Thy will, my will.’” (Rabbi Joel C. Dobin)
Mosaic of Zodiac on the floor of the synagogue at Zippori (Sepphoris) in lower Galilee. Each constellation is correlated with a month of the Hebrew calendar.
“Astrology revealed to me His order and His beauty, and His place for me in the Divine balance that links God, man, and universe into One Balanced Process which never ends in this or on other planes of awareness of life.” (Rabbi Joel C. Dobin)
Mosaic List of Zodiac Signs on floor of synagogue at Ein Gedi
Mosaic Floor of Synagogue at Ein Gedi lists all the signs of the zodiac and identifies their corresponding months of the Hebrew calendar. Ein Gedi is an oasis located west of the Dead Sea.
“Astrology helps man to understand God’s will and to put himself in balance with Divine and universal forces, thus enriching his life and experience.” (Rabbi Joel C. Dobin)
Mosaic of Zodiac on Floor of Synagogue at Ein Harod in the Valley Jezreel near Mt. Gilboa
Mosaic of Zodiac Signs on the Synagogue Floor at Beit Alpha dating to the Byzantine Period – 6th Century – located at the foot of the northern slopes of Mount Gilboa
“Astrology was so much part of Jewish life and experience and so well respected in our tradition and law that the abandonment of Astrology to follow the chimera of scientific linearality was one of the greatest religious tragedies that ever befell our people. For in so doing, we abandoned as well the mystical realities of our faith, our abilities to balance our lives and attain Unity, and we have created of our synagogues and temples arenas of contention for power and concern for financial sufficiency…. I write as an astrologer, seeking to turn all those whose various faiths have seemed to abandon them back to their own faith.” (Rabbi Joel C. Dobin)
Coming out of Judaism, the Christian religion maintained the essential role of astrology in the life of the early church.
Pope is enthroned under the authority of the zodiac. The zodiac sign of Leo – the Lion – is directly over the Pope’s head. Leo rules Rome, Italy, positions of prominence, crown jewels, gold, government buildings, monarchs, politics, presidents.
What appear to be cardinals, distinguished persons, and monks are receiving instruction in Astrology.
A Bible Study Course retailed by the Presbyterian Book Store located at Sixth Ave. & Wood Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Note Zodiac Signs on the Book Cover.
God Painting the Zodiac
Two fish in the center are the Piscean Age symbol for Christianity.
“Judging by the age of broken pottery found on the floor, the distinctive mosaic style, inscriptions citing Jesus and the apparent pre-Byzantine design, Israeli archaeologists say the structure is most likely a public place of Christian worship that dates to the mid 3rd or early 4th century.”
More excerpts from my article – “Astrology: Sacred Or Taboo”
The 13th century poet Dante taught that the primary moving force for both God and humanity is love. He believed the heavenly host of stars and planets turned under the radiating influence of love. For Dante, physical life is explained in terms of the spiritual.33
Roger Bacon, born in 1214, taught the stars are regulated by angelic intelligences. An individual’s personal nature is determined by the heavenly configurations at the time of birth. Medical astrology is valid because the functions of the physical body are determined by the influence of the stars.34
Born around 1224, Thomas Aquinas is still considered to be one the great Christian theologians. He placed importance upon the science of astrology in the study of natural science. According to Aquinas, God rules the inferior creatures—our earthly bodies—through superior creatures—the stars. Both Bacon and Aquinas believed the rational soul of humanity and the gift of freewill to be exempt from stellar influence.35
Paracelsus was the most renowned and controversial advocate of astrology during the 15th century. Paracelsus taught that activity within the cosmos affects all else. Though he recognized the influence of the stars, he did not believe they completely controlled the destinies of humanity. Instead, he felt that humanity has the capacity to transcend the astrological influence of the stars. The means by which humanity can transcend the stellar influence is wisdom, acquired by the direct study of nature.36
Jerome Cardan, born in 1501, was one of the best minds of his age. A great mathematician, physician, and astrologer, Cardan distinguished himself by the cautious way in which he approached his research, seeking to confirm his assertions with solid facts. Appointed professor of medicine at Pavia in 1547, his published works on algebra and astrology brought him fame throughout Europe.37
(Endnotes #33-37 indicate Zohar, The History of Astrology)
In 1586, Pope Sixtus V issued papal bull Coeli et terras condemning judicial (mundane) astrology. This condemnation has deprived Christians (Catholic and Protestant) from the esoteric wisdom found in astrology to this day.
More Excerpts from my article – “Astrology: Sacred Or Taboo”
Despite Vatican condemnation, astrology continued to influence the greatest of minds. Among these is Nostradamus, a physician and astrologer born in 1503. Two great English scientists and astrologers were Edmond Halley, born in 1656, and Isaac Newton, born around 1642. Their laws of motion provided a firm foundation for astrological computation. Francis Bacon, born in 1561, recognized the connection between celestial and terrestrial phenomena; however, he opposed the natal chart and consulting astrology for predictions. He declared astrology to be filled with superstition in his De Augmentis Scientiarum.38
The list of great minds continues. Shakespeare, an astrologer in addition to being a playwright, depicted his characters using astrology correctly. William Lilly, born in 1602, and Nicholas Culpepper, born in the early 1600’s, were physicians who used medical astrology. Though modern astronomers seek to ignore the fact, Copernicus, Kepler (the “founder of modern astronomy and astrology”), and Galileo were all astrologers.39
Galileo’s experience offers an excellent example of how the Church hierarchy has controlled the information available to the laity. Born in 1564, a great inventor, experimental philosopher, and astrologer, Galileo invented the telescope. As a result of the telescope, new scientific discoveries were made. Galileo attempted to reconcile these scientific discoveries with the Christian faith in a series of articles: “Letters of Sunspots,” “Letter to Castelli,” and “Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina.” His work was to no avail. In 1615, a group of eleven theologians pronounced Galileo’s belief in heliocentric theories absurd, heretical, and contrary to the Scriptures. In 1633, a papal court sentenced Galileo to prison. Galileo recanted belief in the Copernican theory that the Earth moves around the Sun and was placed under house arrest in the custody of a friend.40
Born in 1596, Descartes believed it important to record the positions of the planets at the moment of birth because immediately after birth, the brain tissues set themselves and conserve throughout life the first impressions they received.41
During the four hundred years since Descartes, the empirically based scientific community has sought to deny the validity of astrology. However, it has been unable to prove any falsehoods in astrological beliefs. Instead, an increasing number of scientists are actually studying the impact of the stars and planets upon humanity. They are even willing to speak out for astrology.42 In fact, scientific evidence now demonstrates that astrology works.43
World renown psychiatrist Carl Jung believed that “synchronicity” explains how astrology works. Planets do not cause certain events. Instead, they are symbols of cosmic forces. The patterns they form synchronize with events on our planet Earth. In later life, Jung used the natal chart as a tool for working with his patients.44
(Endnotes 38-42 indicate Zohar; #43-44 indicate Francis King, The Cosmic Influence)
What harm has been done by the condemnation of astrology?
Dane Rudhyar calls the individual natal chart our celestial name. It reveals who we are as unique expressions of God and the role we are to play in the unfolding of the overall Divine Plan for Earth’s humanity.
Without this knowledge, we can easily be manipulated and controlled. We accept ourselves—without question—as the sinful, robotic person we are taught we are. We feel separated from God and the rest of the universe. We wonder: “Is there a purpose in this life?” We ask: “Why does God treat me as He does?”
Esoteric astrology is based on the truth of reincarnation. St. Jerome declared Origen to be the greatest teacher of the Church after the apostles. St. Gregory of Nyssa called Origen the prince of Christian learning in the 3rd century. Origen taught the pre-existence of souls and reincarnation. In 553 C.E. (A.D.), the 5th Ecumenical Council condemned Origen and his teachings as heretical. “If anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinarius, Nestorius, Eutyches, and Origen, as well as their heretical books, and also all other heretics who have already been condemned and anathematized by the holy, catholic, and apostolic church and by the four holy synods which have already been mentioned, and also all those who have thought or now think in the same way as the aforesaid heretics and who persist in their error even to death: let him be anathema.” (Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, vol I, ed. Norman P. Tanner, page 119) Anathema is a “curse solemnly pronounced by ecclesiastical authority and accompanied by excommunication.” (Webster’s Dictionary)
Those early Church Fathers who taught or believed in reincarnation were declared heretics, excommunicated, and their books were burned. Other heretics faced horrible deaths, such as being burned alive. Why? Think about it. If you believe you will reincarnate in another body, you cannot be controlled by fear of an eternity in the fires of hell.
The Church existed to hold power over the people, to tell them what to believe rather than have them think for themselves. Control by fear is not possible if an individual knows who she/he is (astrology) and that he will reincarnate again and again. There is nothing to fear when we know Truth; therefore, Truth must be hidden from the people.
In the words of Allen Oken in his book Soul-Centered Astrology: A Key to Your Expanding Self: “The aspiration to Soul alignment—the endeavor to merge the personality life of external, material existence with the increasing inner experience of the Soul perceptions and the Life Force—creates a very different life perspective. In this respect, we are exploring and confronting those changes, transformations, and crises which are part of this natural path of union. There is a structure, rhythm, and series of Laws which are universal and intrinsic to the joining of the lower and Higher selves. These struggles and victories are different to each one of us in their outer forms, but absolutely united in their inner, essential energies and cyclic unfoldment. This is the nature of the relationship between the inner and the outer, the essence and the form, the esoteric and exoteric. We are One Essential Whole, expressing Itself through a limitless number of forms and varieties. Astrology—especially esoteric astrology, and the Soul Force Itself—seeks to give a structure and focus to this process of Self-realization.”
A Church focused on control of its members has no place in the life of those who are on their journey to Soul/Self-Realization.
The Protestant Church may have broken from the Catholic Hierarchy, but it has failed to correct its deprivation of esoteric astrology and reincarnation from its members. Protestants have also aborted their responsibility to teach self-knowledge as a unique expression of God. In so doing, it has been easy to teach Christians they are sinful and in need of a blood sacrifice to save them from the eternal fires of hell. Protestant, too, have controlled by fear.
As a result, two of the most loving expressions of Creator God’s caring for us—astrology and reincarnation—have been eliminated from the Christian religion.
P.S. In case you are thinking the Bible states astrology or divination is an abomination, I present a complete study of the biblical references in my article entitled “Astrology: Sacred Or Taboo” to be found at: http://pathwaytoascension.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/astrology-sacred-or-taboo/
The ancient science of Astrology is not condemned as an abomination; instead, the mis-use of it is condemned.