Monday, August 20, 2007

Background in Astrology

Best way to understand the topic is to read what experts have said about the history of Astrology. Then I will add my comments.

In Anacalypsis, on Page 5, Godfrey Higgins, talks about the Great Deluge mentioned in Hindu and Zorastrian scriptures, in Babylonia Tablets, and in Jews Old Testament, which is also part of mythology in Christian Bible and Islam Koran, on the cycle of Nero and the cycle of 7 days week:

Our information of the historical transactions which it is supposed took place previous to the catastrophe (Note 2), and its attendant flood, which destroyed the ancient world, is very small. Mons. Bailly has observed, that the famous cycle of the Neros, and the cycle of seven days, or the week, from their peculiar circumstances, must probably have been of antediluvian invention. No persons could have invented the Neros who had not arrived at much greater perfection in astronomy than we know was the state of the most ancient of the Assyrians, Egyptians, or Greeks. The earliest of these nations supposed the year to have consisted of 360 days only, (continued on page 6)

Note 2: This catastrophe has been thought by many of the moderns to have arisen from a change of the direction of the earth's axis, and a simultaneous; or perhaps consequent, change of the length of the year from 360 to 365 days. The change of the axis was believed among the ancients by Plato, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Diogenes, Lencippus, and Democritus. Vide book ii. ch. iv. vi. of THOMAS BURNET'S Archceologia. Philosophica.

He continues in Page 6:

when the inventors of the Neros must have known its length to within a few seconds of time—a fact observed by Mons. Bailly to be a decisive proof that science was formerly brought to perfection, and therefore, consequently, must have been afterward lost. There are indeed among the Hindoos proofs innumerable that a very profound knowledge of the sciences was brought by their ancestors from the upper countries of India, the Himmalah mountains, Thibet or Cashmir. These were, I apprehend, the first descendants of the persons who lived after the deluge. But this science has long been forgotten by their degenerate successors, the present race of Brahmins. The ancient Hindoos might be acquainted with the Neros, but I think it probable that Josephus was correct in saying it is of antediluvian discovery; that is, that it was discovered previous to the time allotted for the deluge. And it is a curious circumstance that we receive this tradition from the people among whom we find the apparently antediluvian part of the book, or the first tract of the book, called Genesis, about which I shall have much more to observe in the course of this work.

The other cycle just now named, of the seven days or the week, is also supposed by Bailly to be, from its universal reception, of equal antiquity. There is no country of the old world in which it is not found, which, with the reasons which I will now proceed to state, pretty well justify Mons. Bailly in his supposition.

In my Preliminary Observations, and in my treatise on The Celtic Druids, I have pointed out the process by which the planetary bodies were called after the days of the week, or the days of the week after them. I have there stated that the septennial cycle would probably be among the earliest of what would be called the scientific discoveries which the primeval races of men would make.

Throughout all the nations of the ancient world, the planets are to be found appropriated to the days of the week. The seven-day cycle, with each day named after a planet, and universally the same day allotted to the same planet in all the nations of the world, constitute the first proof, and leave no room to doubt that one system must have prevailed over the whole. Here are the origin and the reason of all judicial astrology, as well as the foundation upon which much of the Heathen mythology was built. The two were closely and intimately connected. It is the object of this work to trace the steps by which, from the earliest time and small beginnings, this system grew to a vast and
(continued on Page 7)

He continues on Page 7, talking on the history of Astrology:

towering height, covering the world with gigantic monuments and beautiful temples, enabling one part of mankind, by means of the fears and ignorance of the other part, to trample it in the dust.

Uncivilized man is by nature the most timid of animals, and in that state the most defenceless. The storm, the thunder, the lightning, or the eclipse, fills him with terror. He is alarmed and trembles at everything which he does not understand, and that is almost everything that he sees or hears.

If a person will place himself in the situation of an early observer of the heavenly bodies, and consider how they must have appeared to him in his state of ignorance, he will at once perceive that it was scarcely possible that he could avoid mistaking them for animated or intelligent beings. To us, with our prejudices of education, it is difficult to form a correct idea of what his sensations must have been, on his first discovering the five planets to be different from the other stars, and to possess a locomotive quality, apparently to him subject to no rule or order. But we know what happened; he supposed them animated, and to this day they are still supposed to be so, by the greatest part of the world. Even in enlightened England judicial astrologers are to be found.

I suppose that after man first discovered the twenty-eight day cycle, and the year of 360 days, he would begin to perceive that certain stars, larger than the rest, and shining with a steady and not a scintillating light, were in perpetual motion. They would appear to him, unskilled in astronomy, to be endowed with life and great activity, and to possess a power of voluntary motion, going and coming in the expanse at pleasure. These were the planets. A long time would pass before their number could be ascertained, and a still longer before it could be discovered that their motions were periodical. The different systems of the ancient philosophers of Greece and other countries, from their errors and imperfections, prove that this must have been the state of the case. During this period of ignorance and fear arose the opinion, that they influenced the lot of man, or governed this sublunary world; and very naturally arose the opinion that they were intelligent beings. And as they appeared to be constantly advancing towards and receding from the sun, the parent of life and comfort to the world, they were believed to be his ministers and messengers. As they began in some instances to be observed to return, or be visible in the same part of the heavens, they would naturally be supposed by the terrified barbarian to have duties to perform; and when the very ancient
(continued on Page 8)

He continues on Page 8, talking on the history of Astrology:

book of Job 1 represents the morning stars to have sung together, and all the sons of God to have shouted for joy, it probably does not mean to use merely a figurative expression, but nearly the literal purport of the language.

In contemplating the host of heaven, men could not fail soon to observe that the fixed stars were in a particular manner connected with the seasons—that certain groups of them regularly returned at the time experience taught them it was necessary to commence their seed-time or their harvest; but that the planets, though in some degree apparently connected with the seasons, were by no means so intimately and uniformly connected with them as the stars. This would be a consequence which would arise from the long periods of some of the planets—Saturn, for instance. These long periods of some of the planets would cause the shortness of the periods of others of them to be overlooked, and would, no doubt, have the effect of delaying the time when their periodical revolutions would be discovered; perhaps for a very long time; and, in the interim, the opinion that they were intelligent agents would be gaining ground, and receiving the strengthening seal of superstition; and, if a priesthood had arisen, the fiat of orthodoxy. From these causes we find that, though in judicial astrology or magic the stars have a great influence, yet that a great distinction is made between them and the planetary bodies; and I think that, by a minute examination of the remaining astrological nonsense which exists, the distinction would be found to be justified, and the probability of the history here given confirmed. As it has been observed, though the connection between the planets and the seasons was not so intimate as between the latter and the stars, yet still there was often an apparent connexion, and some of the planets would be observed to appear when particular seasons arrived, and thus after a certain time they were thought to be beneficent or malevolent, as circumstances appeared to justify the observers' conclusions.

Of the different histories of the creation, that contained in the book, or collection of books, called Genesis, has been in the Western parts of the world the most celebrated, and the nonsense which has been written respecting it, may fairly vie with the nonsense, a little time ago alluded to, of the ancient learned men of Greece and Rome. This book professes to commence with a history of the creation and in our vulgar translation it says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." But I conceive for the word heavens the word planets ought to be substituted. The original for the word heavens is of great consequence. Parkhurst admits that it has the meaning of placers or disposers. In fact, it means the planets as distinguished from the fixed stars, and is the foundation, as I have said, and as we shall find, upon which all judicial astrology, and perhaps much of the Heathen mythology, was built. After man came to distinguish the planets from the stars, and had allotted them to the respective days of the week, he proceeded to give them names, and they were literally the Dewtahs of India, the Archangels of the Persians and Jews, and the most ancient of the Gods of the Greeks and Romans, among the vulgar of whom each planet had a name, and was allotted to, or thought to be, a God. The following are the names of the Gods allotted to each day: Sunday to the Sun, Monday to the Moon, Tuesday to Mars, Wednesday to Mercury, Thursday to Jupiter, Friday to Venus, and Saturday to Saturn: and it is worthy of observation, that neither Bacchus nor Hercules is among them, on which I shall have an observation, to make in a future part of this work. In almost every page we shall have to make some reference to judicial astrology, which took its rise from the planetary bodies. The Sun, I think I shall shew, was unquestionably the first object of the worship of all nations. Contemporaneously with him or after him succeeded, for the reasons which I have given, the planets. About the time that the collection of planets became an object of adoration, the Zodiac was probably marked out from among the fixed stars, as we find it in the earliest superstitions of the astrologers. Indeed, the worship of the equinoctial sun in the sign Taurus, the remains of which are yet found in our May-day festivals, carries it back at least for 4,500 years before Christ. How much further back the system may be traced, I pretend not to say.

After the sun and planets it seems, on first view, probable that the moon would occupy the next place in the idolatrous veneration of the different nations; but I am inclined to think that this was not the case. Indeed, I very much doubt whether ever he or she, for it was of both genders, was an object of adoration at all in the very early periods. I think it would be discovered so soon that its motions were periodical, that there would be scarcely any time for the error to happen; for I cannot conceive it possible that it should have been thought to be an intelligent being after once its periodical nature was discovered.