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The Decline of Astrology and The Christian Cult

The Decline of Astrology and The Christian Cult


Astrologers and scientists are virtually opposed in their beliefs about the validity and testability of astrological principles. The Christian religion has long opposed astrology simply because of its pagan associations and the "Magical" interpretation of the material world it imparts. Because of this split between the pagan origins of science, and the Christian demand for adherence to canonized interpretations of the Bible, science was born from the natural sciences continued efforts to understand the physical world, and Christianity's rejection of the philosophical interpretation of that knowledge. Christianity insisted on interpretation of the evidence, hence a schizophrenic split in the collective sociological psyche was the result. Astrology fell into disfavor not because of any scientific evidence, but because of the rejection of any interpretation of physical phenomena by the Church powers. However, coherence theory in philosophy demands that paradigms fit together in a cogent way and are only valid if they do so. Discussed are the ramifications of these historical developments and their effect on academia.

No two belief systems have had a larger effect on the history of the world than Christianity and Astrology. However, before the start of the Christian era, the entire world saw itself reflected in, and supported by, nature. This was the primary thrust of paganism which understood the animation of matter by spirit and included astrology as one way to "read" that spirit. Hence, the astral religions of the Babylonians and Mesoamericans were based on the idea that one could communicate with spirit through the spirit's own manifestations--the physical world. Christianity one the other side of the coin evolved into the cult of denying and discounting physicality in its zeal to defeat paganism. Hence, the development of science was the direct result of the need to understand physicality without offending the power of the church. Most myths around the world share archetypal references such as the astral religion and nature worship, and there are few if any myths of origin and ancestry throughout the world that do not contain the elements of astral divination and reverence for the heavens.

There are also fewer myths than this that do not contain the concept of transcendence or resurrection from death. We can see through historical developments that as the power of the church increased, the fear of making physical phenomenon connections to spiritual understandings increased. Is it this concept then, that created the conflict that remains to this day between what were once companion concepts in the human understanding of the power of spirit and soul e.g., science and myth? Is the dichotomy of science and religion the result? Why, as a collective consciousness, does the populace of earth maintain two separate belief systems so fervently defended, so profoundly contradictory and polarized as religion and science? What happened historically that allowed a populace to be blinded by the glitter of a version of reality likened to Oz, via an obvious collective fantasy that coherency theory clearly refutes? The most coherent merging of the two constructs is astrology, it is both the parent of the dichotomy and orphaned paradigm of the divorce.

By why did the Christian cult need to embrace theories that placed God above and apart from the created world? Early on Christianity allowed astrology to co-exist with it because it was a rising cult and needed support from whatever believers it could get. Astrology was pervasive. We see the original belief in astral religion and the remnants of this acceptance in Genesis 1, 14:

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.

God said let them be for signs, and yet we are later instructed not to do so by clergy. It would take 300 years before the "authorities" of the Christian cult could reverse this statement; 300 years before they could garner enough support for redefining the original document and intent. In the first two centuries of the early church, there is little if any mention of astrology, and no attitude or attack on astrology at all. (4) Christianity survived and triumphed partly because of the power issues and condition of the Roman empire in the third and forth centuries. The other mystery religions of Mithraism and Manichaeism did not appeal to women and lower classes. Christianity allowed women and lower classes a seductive and continued appeal, because the life of its founder in poverty and persecution. These are appeals using psychology for control of the hopes of the disenfranchised and powerless for something beyond their hopeless conditions of the present.

The first real condemnation of astrology by the church comes in the Council of Laodicea between 364-67 C.E.; it makes a distinction between mathematici and astrologi, implying a need to separate the real astrologers from the frauds based on horoscopic calculation methods. Here we see the beginnings of the branching of science, because of the need to investigate truths about physicality while not challenging dogmatic beliefs. The primary condemnation that arose eventually from the Christian perspective was in terms of astrology's implication of fate and that astrology was incompatible with Christian doctrines of free will and moral autonomy in the judicial aspect of astrology, or the exact prediction of human behavior. This also would appeal to those with little power, as it gave them hope of liberation from their situation rather than being born under a "bad sign or star". But we have already determined that the pagan idea was communication with the spirit or the attempt to divine messages from it, not define it as unalterable fated circumstance. It is the psychological implication of the locus of control that is what truly incites this incompatibility and contains the objectionable power, not the technique. Many aspects of the Arabic philosophical contributions throughout history are also rejected by the Christians, but curiously, we see here in the Zoroastrian perspective once again, the Christian cult embracing aspects of certain beliefs systems throughout history that reinforce control by the cult:

The political and cultural universalism of the Persian empire had its counterpart in the emergence of a higher religion, Zoroastrianism, which contained both monotheistic and dualistic elements and emphasized the individual's capacity to choose between good and evil. Named for its founder, the Persian prophet Zoroaster, who lived in the sixth century B.C., this religion taught belief in Ahura Mazda-the Wise Lord-god of light, justice, wisdom, goodness, and immortality. In addition to Ahura Mazda, however, there existed Ahriman, the spirit of darkness who was evil and destructive; Ahriman was in conflict with the ultimately triumphant Ahura Mazda. People were free to choose whom they would follow. To serve Ahura Mazda, one had to speak the truth and be good to others; the reward for such behavior was life eternal in paradise, the realm of light and goodness. Followers of the evil spirit could be cast into a realm of darkness and torment. In contrast to the traditional religions of the Near East, Zoroastrianism rejected magic, polytheism, and blood sacrifices.
This "good and evil" aspect of Zoroastrianism is embraced by the Christians and incorporated into the religion as one of its central features. But who determines what is "good and bad"? Do we need psychology degrees to assume that most individuals would not wish to be "cast into a realm of darkness and torment"? Now instead of choices generated through communication with spirit (divination), we enter a "battle" with dark and light. So where does free will choice enter in?

There is none. This is a false choice illusion, a creation of a psychosocial element in history that amounts to of a new chain schedule of reinforcement for social control by "spiritual leaders" who are assumed to have privileged knowledge by which we are guided to the "proper" behavior. The idea here is a very simple one, the introduction of guilt and doubt in one's own personal actions and essential beingness as a control factor for use by those in "authority." No longer can we consult the world around us, but must consult those in authority who hold special places in an imagined battle of hierarchies between "good and bad".

Rome is recognized historically for its highly developed propensity for political and social control, and it was Rome that solidified the Christian cult's control and power by making it equal in power to governmental hierarchies--to their own eventual regret. So obvious is the need for control in the Christian cult, that Popes vied with Emperors for control of the Roman empire, and so pervasive is the remnant of this idea today that we still refer to the idea of discussing religion or politics as taboo if we wish to remain friendly with others or to maintain groupthink.

But how did these social structures of Christianity move from the intent by the Christ to illuminate other-worldly awareness without discounting the physical world, to motives of social control? Heinrich Zimmer (1890-1943) said it well: "The best things can't be told: The second best are misunderstood." The second best are misunderstood because, as metaphors and poetic symbols of concepts that cannot be told, they are misread prosaically as referring to tangible facts. Then In this particular case, there was a purposeful misinterpretation of the entire concept of divination behind the astrological premise by the Christian cult, in effect cutting off the individual from the power or personal responsibility to be able to communicate with the divine in order to ascertain the divine's wishes and intentions -- or in psychological terms -- now telling the individual what they must be and how they must be it. This power was now secured and in the hands of the clergy.

The disingenuousness of any theological or political premise is in the degree of following it encourages. Quite simply, because to the degree the following is encouraged is equally the degree of disempowerment experienced by the populace under that dogma. Hence, those who subscribe to the Christian cult groupthink, allow others -- in hierarchical fashion -- to take responsibility for their own creative introspection and discount their own interconnectedness with the ALL. In this sense both astrology and the Christian cult were being leveled to the status of literal from the metaphorical which is what allows divination, insight, and communication with the ALL to occur:
"It is believed that Jesus, having risen from the dead, ascended physically to heaven (Luke 24:51), to be followed shortly by his mother in her sleep (Early Christian belief, confirmed as Roman Catholic dogma on November 1, 1950). It is also written that some nine centuries earlier, Elijah, riding a chariot of fire, had been carried to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11). Now, even ascending at the speed of light, which for a physical body is impossible, those three celestial voyagers would not yet be out of the galaxy. Dante in the year AD 1300 spent the Easter weekend in a visit to hell, purgatory, and heaven; but that voyage was in spirit alone, his body remaining on earth. Whereas, Jesus, Mary, and Elijah are declared to have ascended physically. What is to be made today of such mythological (hence, metaphorical) folk ideas? Obviously, if anything of value is to be made of them at all (and I submit that the elementary original idea must have been something of this kind), where those bodies went was not into outer space, but into inner space. That is to say, what is connoted by such metaphorical voyages is the possibility of a return of the mind in spirit, while still incarnate, to full knowledge of that transcendent source out of which the mystery of a given life arises into this field of time and back into which it in time dissolves. It is an old, old story in mythology: of the Alpha and Omega that is the ground of all being, to be realized as the beginning and end of this life. The imagery is necessarily physical and thus apparently of outer space. The inherent connotation is always, however, psychological and metaphysical, which is to say, of inner space. When read as denoting merely speufied events, therefore, the mirrored inward images lose their inherent spiritual force and, becoming overloaded with sentiment, only bind the will the more to temporality. There is a beautiful saying of Novalis: "The seat of the soul is there, where the outer and the inner worlds meet."

This literalness would generate conflict after conflict in first the Aristotelian cosmology, and then the Platonic. Leading up to these philosophical confrontations was the expansion and spread of Christianity. Because the Christians were originally a sect of the Judaism, they were tolerated more by the Romans, but as they differentiated their religion in search of converts, they took themselves out of the protection of this revered older religion. This also turned into a competition for converts with the Jews which accelerated animosity between them, with the Christians vilifying the Jews for not accepting Christ when he came. The Jews became more and more separated from the Christian cult and found it easier to exist without conflict in the east and the Islamic society that was tolerant of monotheistic religions. Astrology in the east survived with the Arabic cultures, and in the west Aristotelian views and Christian views evolved with the establishment of the first Universities such as Oxford and Cambridge in the 12th Century. The Arabic and Jewish philosophers in the east held that stars were very strong concentrations of ether and reflected the light of the sun, so these considerations remained strong in the minds of Medieval cultures.

By 1118 C.E. the birth of Manuel Komnenos ran concurrent with the first translations of the Arabic astrological works leading up to his being chosen by his father through "signs and tokens" that he would be the best choice to be crowned Emperor of the east with an astrological chart as record for that coronation. (16) His use of astrology is evident, even making sure an astrologer was present during his wife's labor of one of his son's birth to ensure an accurate recording of the birth data. His arguments in defense of astrology against a letter from a monk of the imperial Pantokrator monastery in Constantinople is evidence that it was never science that sought the demise of astrology, but religious dogma and need for control that spawned a more separate science out of necessity to account for the continued exploration and understanding of the physical universe while side-stepping condemnation from those with the power of the church.

"Most honored father, your letter which has been entrusted to my highness was read through to me at once. Just as you supposed, it consisted of an attack against the science and art of astrology, composed from passages from authoritative writings The letter, worthy of a simple monk, was not written in a well planned and logical manner, but rather altogether ignorant and inaccurate. It is clear that the monk who wrote it does not have any erudition nor is he a sensible scholar in accordance of our holy teachings and its interpreters. At any rate it seemed to my highness at first best to not reply to the letter, but to restrain myself from taking offense in all matters. However I also wished fully to assure you who are hesitant in regards to the more serious doctrines and in regards to the matters with which a man who is receptive to thought and knowledge concerns himself. Also you inappropriately and in many ways overturn the creation which has been rightly ,and harmoniously made and set in order by God, (and for this reason, it is in need of much study). You have not discerned correctly the practice of astrology, but included together under a single name the ill-omened practices as well, which wrongly are supposed to be the subjects of astrology, since you considered the stars as ensouled and for this reason the making of charms and invocations which very attempt is unholy and rejected by all wise men. Even if you has not laid this matter out, still my highness was moved to a defense and to the composition of the present letter. All the more, because you called heretics those persons who pursue the science of astrology, my highness defends the truth itself and these people. Because you have excluded them from the community of Christians, my highness writes to you that nothing which has been introduced by God is useless to the life of men and is to be rejected, but everything was introduced and came to be by His providence so as to be useful for the life of man. (but rather by those who suppose these matters thus or otherwise, if these matters seem of little account or not). If at least in the case of the slightest objects, that is plants and roots and fish and rocks, indeed if there is a purpose even for a heap of soil, how much more in the case of that heavenly and very beautiful body and of the celestial bodies in it, God put into this group what was useful for the constitution of the objects there."

At this time in history we see astrology being defined as an art and science without hesitation. We also see the same problems then as in modern times, of the ignorant seeking to denounce astrology from simple superstition rather than any thorough working knowledge of the subject. The authoritative writings Manuel references are the revered Greek texts on astrology of then and now. He points out that God created the art of astrology as a tool to understand the workings of the creation and not a superstitious belief of the stars having souls and therefore used for making "charms and invocations" which he points out is unholy.

The very fact that he has to defend anything as holy or unholy is a very powerful indication of the hold Christianity had over the value judgments of the culture in which we read these documents. Likewise, the fact that the church preoccupies itself over the centuries condemning astrology (and Aristotelianism 1210, 1215, 1231, 1245, 1270, 1277) by itself indicates that astrology was alive and well and powerful enough to evoke such condemnations. The church seeks to be the gatekeeper: Everything must pass inspection by those in "authority." During this timing the accumulated and revered Greek classical knowledge is now being superstitiously denigrated simply for the sake of control over the rubes, who, because of the deterioration of the education levels over the centuries were more gullible than ever to accept such punishment and limitation from a few in authority.

The early Roman empire occupied a special place in Christianity because both Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom there. Rome was were supposedly where Christ told Peter (Petra in Greek means rock) "on this rock I will build my church", hence, the Bishop of Rome was head of the Catholic church because this passage was argued to mean that Jesus chose Peter as his successor. The contortions that the Christ's supposed words are spun into to gain control and power still are used to this day, and demonstrate the danger of allowing those with less than spiritual concerns on their mind to determine just what metaphor means. But the interpretations of the New Testament are undergoing new and challenging tests.

THE WORLD IN FRONT OF THE TEXT: OUR CULTURE

"I have come to the conclusion that the Bible is only a specific instance of a general problem in reading literature: we read every writing through the experience of earlier readers. There exists a whole world of earlier readings between us and any text not our exact contemporary. And the simple truth is we will never be able to read these texts in the same way we would have had there not been these earlier interpretations, even if we read against the grain and try to subvert them. Even so we would be reacting to those readings. The best we can hope is to be aware of how earlier interpretations shape our own perceptions of the text. We should be aware, for example, that beginning already in the second century and culminating in the monumental work of Augustine (345-430 CE), the fifth-century North African bishop, people began to read the New Testament writings as if they were philosophical treatises, drawing out their implied theology. Since Augustine it has been nearly impossible to read these documents without considering their supposed theology. This theological reading evolved throughout the Middle Ages into a very elaborate system that envisioned four levels of meaning in every text: the literal, the symbolic, the ethical, and the spiritual....All four levels of meaning were bound up into a comprehensive philosophical-theological system, coming to magnificent expression in the works of Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century (1225-1274).


In 1277 Thomas Aquinas was condemned in Paris along with 219 propositions of Aristotelian cosmological precepts. The abuse of power in the church would not go unnoticed, and there would be consequences for each attempt by the church to usurp power, so that by 1517 the wholesale rejection of the Catholic church in much of northern Europe coincided with Marsilio Ficino's translation of Platonic and Hermetic teachings and reaffirmation of Hellenistic astrology. This along with the concept of humanism (the proper study of man is man) would be key factors in the ignition of the Renaissance and the development of science.

The 12th century was the main phase of translations of Arabic material (as the Greek was disappearing) which added greatly to the scientific revolution that would occur later. One of the precursors of empirical science was Roger Bacon (1215-1292) who logically presented powerful arguments against the notion that astrology was necessarily deterministic. He argued that men's natural dispositions can be affected by the heavenly bodies as they are in climactic conditions; but it does not follow that all of their actions are determined.

Bacon was a strange mixture. In spite of his attacks on the theologians, he was, in some ways, an extremely credulous man. He believed, for example, that God had revealed the secrets of Nature to the Jews, that their secret teaching had been transmitted, by way of the Chaldeans and Egyptians, to Aristotle, and that it could be recovered, given the requisite moral and mental qualities. Again, he inclined to the apocalyptic view expounded by Joachim of Fiore in the twelfth century and tried to prove that the coming of Antichrist was imminent. He was also interested in astrology and alchemy.

And so, even the precursors of "empiricism" must look for moral and mental qualities that would pacify the church to justify speculation. These conflicts rooted in power were to continue for centuries. The sharpest conflict was during the century after reformation, a time when the church itself was being reconstructed from the lingering effects of the abuse of power. The astrological conflict with the church stemmed from the contradictions between astrological and Christian explanations of phenomena such as storms and earthquakes. Seen by the Christian perspective as manifestations of God's secret purposes allowed control of collective and personal perspective to remain with the religious leaders. These events were seen by astrologers as fated "good or bad" luck events based on astrological configurations, and detracted from the locus of psychological control by the church assigning power to the astrologer rather than the clergy.

"Foreknowledge, whether of religious history or of human behaviour in general, was a perquisite of God alone, and it was presumptuous to usurp such a prerogative. 'If a man shall undertake by the stars to foretell future events, which are accidental, dependent on the wills of and actions of men,' declared the Independent divine, William Bridge, 'he doth plainly step into the chair of God.' "God," said John Gaule, 'hath resumed the foreknowledge and foreshewing of things future to himself; and hath discharged . . man from all such curiosities and presumptions; and hath expressly forbidden us . . . both the consulting with and assenting to them.'"

But the Churches own abuse of sacraments by devising all sorts of "rules" in order to separate the money and possessions from its faithful acted as a catalyst in the sixteenth century where another shift occurred with the new readings of biblical literature proposed by the Protestant reformers. These reformers sought to strip away many of the institutionalized interpretations that had grown up as the effect of the power of the clergy in the previous centuries, reading instead for an understanding of personal salvation. Hence, the reformation.

Now the Renaissance followed once the power of the church had been shaken. The core philosophy now moved to humanism with a resurgence in the interest of the Greek classical literature, wherein the human individual development is treasured--as it should be. Marsilio Ficino translates Plato, Plotinus, and the Corpus Hermeticum at the request of Cosimo Medici, and immediately the fear of control recently perpetrated by the church with its influence, triggers the same rash of criticisms of astrology. But the astrologers affected by this would be the authors of the Astronomical revolution. Inspired by the resurgence and introduction of Plato, Hermeticism and Plotinus, Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler and Galileo would develop a new cosmology driven by the astrological Greek notions. But still, we see these great logicians and astrologers cowering before the church while rebirthing the search for truth:

To His Holiness, Pope Paul III, Nicholas Copernicus' Preface to His Books on the Revolutions

I can readily imagine, Holy Father, that as soon as some people hear that in this volume, which I have written about the revolutions of the spheres of the universe, I ascribe certain motions to the terrestrial globe. they will shout that I must be immediately repudiated together with this belief. For 1 am not so enamored of my own opinions that I disregard what others may think of them. I am aware that a philosopher's ideas are not subject to the judgement of ordinary persons, because it is his endeavor to seek the truth in all things, to the extant permitted to human reason by God. Yet I hold that completely erroneous views should be shunned. Those who know that the consensus of many centuries has sanctioned the conception that the earth remains at rest in the middle of the heaven as its center would. I reflected. regard it as an insane pronouncement if I made the opposite assertion that the earth moves.

If we see this much fear generated simply by the suggestion of the difference in mechanics of physical motions, what would be the response to the questioning of theological position and interpretations of the Bible? Astrology was an integral part of the Astronomical Revolution, and yet academicians today purposely exclude these facts from the education process.

Johannes Kepler was conceived on the 16th of May, 1571, at 4:37 a.m. and born on the 27th of December at 2:30 P.M. Such minutely kept dates remind us that Kepler lived in an age when "astronomer" still meant "astrologer" and when the word scientist had not yet been invented. Like many of the world's greatest scientists, including Ptolemy and Copernicus, Kepler had a profound feeling for the harmony of the heavens: although he rejected most of the traditional details of astrology, he believed in a powerful accord between the cosmos and the individual.

And yet, based on the rebirth of the classical knowledge, steeped in astrological foundation from the beginning of history and beyond, the fear of disrupting the status quo of the Christian cult, foster parent of the classical literature, perpetrators of the crusades---remains. Universities typically leave out any notion of the profound place of astrology in the history of the world, in cultural developments, plays, dance, music. Had the Greeks been so threatened by Babylonian astrology? No, it was refined and enhanced by the Greeks. Had the Arabic world been so threatened when it translated the ancient works? No, it advanced and improved and invented new methods of application. Did the Chinese--who could cover the earth with their populace develop a belief system of dominance and intolerance? Has any cult in recorded history been so ruthless as to destroy the entire history of a people such as the Spanish invasion of Mesoamerica in 1500?, destroy and overtake the entire populace of native Americans in North America?

All of this historical evidence presented lends credence to the psychological recognition of the split of religious doctrine and earthly physics into what we now define as the polarized dogma of both "science and religion" -- the direct result of the fear still present in this Renaissance. Still present, was the power of the church to punish those whose discoveries challenged the cannons of the church. Such a threat to open discovery and blossoming of intellect was not present in classical Greece. Hence, the decline of astrology was not the result of scientific debunking, for science in the classical sense never had such rigid dogma and power structures behind it to do so.

Nor does the true skeptic hold such rigid and incoherent dictates that drive his discovery of new knowledge. The reality of our present day level of intellect and cosmological theological quest for insight, is that no rebirth has fully occurred, hence no Renaissance has been completed, because the notion outlined in the first paragraph of this work regarding coherency theorists' recognition that "An empirical belief is true if and only if it coheres with a system of other beliefs, which together form a comprehensive account of reality" has not been yet reached. The level of science has so outstripped the awareness of cosmological purpose and the journey of humanity into inner space, that we live in an endless parade of marketing and economic manipulation laden with emotive fallaciousness designed to lure us from one economic decision to another. Where has the awe filled examination of a summer sky that drove the query to begin with gone? It can now be viewed in a few clicks on your computer minus the fresh air. Academia and financiers drive this collective reality.

Driven by the zeal of Christian dogma and the need for control through the centuries, the discounting and disregarding of astrology by academia as the integral part of that comprehensive reality that ties the polarities and dichotomies together to bring us back to full exploration with a coherent classical level in the modern era, is no less ludicrous than accepting the advice of the wizard of "Oz" to "ignore that man behind the curtain". Because until we do acknowledge it and advance the spiritual to meet the technological, none of us will ever truly find our way home.




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