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Blavatsky Net - Theosophy

This site focuses on Madame Blavatsky and her teaching - Theosophy. It features an introduction to Theosophy, study aids, research tools, original text, supporting evidence, membership, and visitor interaction.


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Astrology

Dear Member of Blavatsky Net,

During the course of the debate between the Darwinists and the supporters of intelligent design (ID) it has been curious to me to see how the issue of Astrology has occassionally been pushed forward.

During the legal trial in Pennsylvania the lawyer for the Darwinists managed to get the defendant for ID to admit what was considered damaging. The defendant admitted that his definition of a theory was so broad that it would allow for even the study of astrology. Various journalists trumpeted this admission as showing the unscientific nature of ID and its adherents. Perhaps it did damage ID in the eyes of some - or more likely, confirm their prejudces.

Earlier in the year Newsweek ran a denigrating cartoon in response to the "teach both sides" argument. It showed a series of blocks in which scientific truth was juxtaposed against the seeming unscientific alternative. The last block, and presumably the most decisive one, showed an astronomer condescendingly noting astrology. In a whiff of superiority the reader is supposed to scorn the seemingly unscientific alternatives.

In thinking about this though, I think the Darwinists have a point. If they were to be so open-minded as to permit consideration of ID, they would be obliged to have an open mind toward other issues as well. So if they don't want to have an open mind in any direction then they should not have an open mind toward ID. It is a Pandora's box of things they won't like.

These Darwinists are nevertheless profoundly mistaking their proper position. They are confusing objectivity with materialism. Scientists should be objective. They should look squarely at the evidence. Preconception should not blind them. They should go where the evidence leads. That kind of objectivity is good. But instead they opt for materialism - thinking it the same as objectivity. Sticking with materialism they count all realities beyond matter and energy as unscientific. Facts that would go beyond their known materialistic world of principles are a priori disallowed. But it is objectivity they should value, not materialism. They are different.

So in response, this newsletter is about astrology.

Blavatsky has a number of positive things to say about astrology. Some of those will be put forward. In important aspects they are quite different from generally accepted views on the subject. However, first I should say something about proof.

PROOF

There are a few ways to prove the truth of astrology for yourself. The first is the hardest and the best. Spend a few years reading astrology books. Emerse yourself in the concepts and the approach. Apply the ideas to yourself. Check the ability of astrology to predict the future. To check your grasp of the ideas, and for additional insight, have a professional do some readings for you.

In my observation this process shows that astrology is real. Once one learns these things, an endless stream of confirmations will follow for as long as you care to watch.

Of course that takes time, energy and thought. So I will suggest a much faster and easier route to determine the truth of astrology for yourself - despite the court hearings in Pennsylvania and the condemnations from the press.

First gain the cooperation of your spouse or a close companion in order to try an experiment. For each of you separately, obtain a computer produced astrological reading based on your birth time and location. Once you have them, go through the two reports together - page by page and even paragraph by paragraph. The advantage of this experiment is that you know each other well. Even though you have much in common you will likely be sufficiently different for the success of this experiment. Now the key part - for each page in each report objectively decide if you can assign it properly to one person or the other. My prediction is that at a percentage much higher than chance, you will allocate the individual pages to the proper individual. And that, from a computer produced report.

There are some large scale studies available that validate the reality of the effects of astrology. Perhaps some future newsletters will be devoted to these more formal proofs.

The invention of the computer has contributed significantly to developments in this field. Astrological researchers have been able to confirm and refine, even extend, the principles of astrology because the computer greatly facilitates making many charts and analyzing the findings statistically.

Because of these computer developments, when we read Blavatsky's views on astrology we can know that popular astrology has been significantly refined since she wrote. Nevertheless - she speaks of another level of knowledge associated with this field that is quite beyond our current common understanding.

________

BLAVATSKY ON ASTROLOGY

Some summary statements from Blavatsky on the subject.

Besides the great neglect into which astrology has fallen during the last two centuries, it is a science far more difficult to master than the highest of mathematics; yet, notwithstanding all, we assert again that, whenever studied conscientiously, it proves the claims of its proficients correct. (BCW vol III)

In its days, astrology was greatly honoured, for when in able hands it was often shown to be as precise and trustworthy in its predictions as astronomical predictions are in our own age. (Stars and Numbers)

ANCIENT civilization saw nothing absurd in the claims of astrology, no more than many an educated and thoroughly scientific man sees in it today. Judicial astrology, by which the fate and acts of men and nations might be foreknown, [hardly] appeared, nor does it even now appear, any more unphilosophical or unscientific than does natural astrology or astronomy-by which the events of so-called brute and inanimate nature (changes of weather, &c.), might be predicted. For it was not even prophetic insight that was claimed by the votaries of that abstruse and really grand science, but simply a great proficiency in that method of procedure which allows the astrologer to foresee certain events in the life of a man by the position of the planets at the time of his birth. (Stars and Numbers)

Primitive Astrology was as far above modern judiciary Astrology, so-called, as the guides (the Planets and Zodiacal signs) are above the lamp-posts. (Astrology and Astrolatry)

_______

THE STUDY OF INITIATES

For Blavatsky, the knowledge of astrology refers to much more the term generally means today. It is part of the knowledge of the initiates of old.

The books of Hermes Trismegistus contain the exoteric meaning, still veiled for all but the Occultist, of the Astrology and Astrolatry of the Khaldi. The two subjects are closely connected. Astrolatry, or the adoration of the heavenly host, is the natural result of only half-revealed Astrology, whose Adepts carefully concealed from the noninitiated masses its Occult principles and the wisdom imparted to them by the Regents of the Planets-the "Angels." Hence, divine Astrology for the Initiates; superstitious Astrolatry for the profane. St. Justin asserts it:
From the first invention of the hieroglyphics it was not the vulgar, but the distinguished and select men who became initiated in the secrecy of the temples into the science of every kind of Astrology - even into its most abject kind: that Astrology which later on found itself prostituted in the public thoroughfares.
There was a vast difference between the Sacred Science taught by Petosiris and Necepso - the first Astrologers mentioned in the Egyptian manuscripts, believed to have lived during the reign of Ramses II (Sesostris) - and the miserable charlatanry of the quacks called Chaldaeans, who degraded the Divine Knowledge under the last Emperors of Rome. Indeed, one may fairly describe the two as the "high ceremonial Astrology" and "astrological Astrolatry." The first depended on the knowledge by the Initiates of those (to us) immaterial Forces or Spiritual Entities that affect matter and guide it. Called by the ancient Philosophers the Archontes and the Cosmocratores, they were the types or paradigms on the higher planes of the lower and more material beings on the scale of evolution, whom we call Elementals and Nature-Spirits, to whom the Sabaeans bowed and whom they worshipped, without suspecting the essential difference. Hence the latter kind when not a mere pretence, degenerated but too often into Black Magic. It was the favorite form of popular or exoteric Astrology, entirely ignorant of the apotelesmatic principles of the primitive Science, the doctrines of which were imparted only at Initiation. Thus, while the real Hierophants soared like Demi-Gods to the very summit of spiritual knowledge, the hoi polloi among the Sabaeans crouched, steeped in superstition - ten millenniums back, as they do now - in the cold and lethal shadow of the valleys of matter. Sidereal influence is dual. There is the physical and physiological influence, that of exotericism; and the high spiritual, intellectual, and moral influence, imparted by the knowledge of the planetary Gods.

_______________

MORE RECENT HISTORY

Modern judiciary Astrology in its present form began only during the time of Diodorus, as he apprises the world.* But Chaldaean Astrology was believed in by most of the great men in History, such as Caesar, Pliny, Cicero - whose best friends, Nigidius Figulus and Firmānus Tarutius, were themselves Astrologers, the former being famous as a prophet. Marcus Antonius never traveled without an Astrologer recommended to him by Cleopatra. Augustus, when ascending the throne, had his horoscope drawn by Theagenes. Tiberius discovered pretenders to his throne by means of Astrology and divination. Vitellius dared not exile the Chaldaeans, as they had announced the day of their banishment as that of his death. Vespasian consulted them daily; Domitian would not move without being advised by the prophets; Adrian was a learned Astrologer himself; and all of them, ending with Julian (called the Apostate because he would not become one), believed in, and addressed their prayers to, the Planetary "Gods." The Emperor Adrian?, moreover, "predicted from the January calends up to December 31st, every event that happened to him daily." Under the wisest emperors Rome had a School of Astrology, wherein were secretly taught the occult influences of the Sun, Moon, and Saturn.erne, p. 101. (Astrology and Astrolatry)

... Omens were studied by all imperial Rome, as much, if not more than they are now in India. Tiberius practised the science; and the Saracens in Spain held star-divination in the greatest reverence, astrology passing into Western Europe through these, our first civilizers. Alphonso, the wise king of Castile and Leon, made himself famous in the thirteenth century by his "Astrological Tables" (called Alphonsine); and his code of the Siata Purtidas; and the great astronomer Kepler in the seventeenth, the discoverer of the three great laws of planetary motions (known as Kepler's laws) believed in and proclaimed astrology a true science. Kepler, the Emperor Rudolph's mathematician, he to whom Newton is indebted for all his subsequent discoveries, is the author of the "Principles of Astrology" in which he proves the power of certain harmonious configurations of suitable planets to control human impulses. In his official capacity of Imperial astronomer, he 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 then engaged. No less than himself, his friend, protector and instructor, the great astronomer Tycho de Brahe, believed in, and expanded, the astrological system. He was forced, moreover, to admit the influence of the constellations on terrestrial life and actions quite against his will or wish, and merely because of the constant verification of facts. (Stars and Numbers)

______________________

INDICATOR NOT CAUSATIVE AGENT

One of the distinctive astrological assertions of Blavatsky is that the stars do not "cause" events. Rather they only "indicate" them. Here is one of her most extensive explanations of that distinction.

The Egyptian episcope ("overseer"; our English word "episcopal" is derived from the name of this ancient pagan stargazer) discovered that in the morning, shortly before sunrise, in June, he could see in the east the brightest fixed star in the heavens, and immediately after thus seeing the star the Nile would overflow. Having witnessed the phenomenon for many successive years, he laid it down as an axiom that this star indicated the overflow of the Nile, no one thinking of disputing him; for the cause should be traced to the melting of the snow in the mountains of Africa. Now, suppose someone - a sceptic - had heard of this idea of a star causing the Nile to overflow, what an opportunity it would have afforded for heaping scorn and ridicule upon the poor episcope! Yet the episcope would have continued to observe the same phenomena year after year; and being called "moon-struck," a "fool," etc., would not have changed his opinion in the least. Now all the hubbub on this point would arise from ignorance on the part of the sceptic just as nine-tenths of all the disputes and quarrels arise. Teach the man that the appearance of that star at a particular time and place in the heavens indicated, not caused the overflow of the Nile, and he would have ceased to call the episcope an idiot and liar.

The intelligent reader must now see the point at which we aim - namely, that in astrology the stars do not cause our good or bad luck, but simply indicate the same. A man must be a psychologist and a philosopher before he can become a perfect astrologer, and understand correctly the great Law of Universal Sympathy. Not only astrology but magnetism, theosophy and every occult science, especially that of attraction and repulsion, depend upon this law for their existence. Without having thoroughly studied the latter, astrology becomes a superstition. (BCW vol iii)

In the next she elaborates more on the distinction between the stars as causative agents vs the stars as indicators. And she ends with an explanation quite beyond our modern astrologers as to why a child might be born with a favorable chart!

No more than Mr. Darasha Dosabhoy do we believe astrology capable of predicting every trifling event in our life, any accidental illness, joy or sorrow. It never claimed as much. The stars can predict (?) no more unforeseen events than a physician a broken leg to a patient who never stirs from his house. They show a lucky or unlucky life, but in general features, and no more. If our friend was unsuccessful with every astrologer he met, we know at least a dozen of well- educated men who were forced to believe in astrology as its predictions came to pass in every case. A large volume would be necessary to explain in detail the understanding of this ancient science, yet a few words may serve to correct one of the most glaring errors concerning it, not only current among the masses, but even among many who understand and practice astrology, namely, that the planets make us what we are, their good and evil aspects causing fortunate and unfortunate periods. Says a Professor of Astrology, W. H. Chaney: "Take to the unphilosophical astrologer the horoscope of a boy born with Sagittarius rising, Jupiter in the same, on the ascendant, in exact trine to the Sun and Leo, with other favourable configurations, and instantly he would declare that the boy would become a great man, a Prince, a President - and so would I. But the astrologer might insist that all this good fortune was caused by the boy having been born under such fortunate aspects, whereas I should look beyond the birth for the cause, and should probably discover, that, before his conception, his parents had been away from each other for weeks or months, during which both lived a life of perfect chastity; that they were very harmonious, in excellent bodily health, their intellects clear, their minds cheerful, and their moral natures strong." (BCW vol iii)

_________

IMPORTANCE

In the study of the Secret Doctrine by Blavatsky we often refer to the three fundamental principles presented in the Proem of that book. On page 15 we read:

This second assertion of the Secret Doctrine is the absolute universality of that law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow, which pysical science has observed and recorded in all departents of nature.

I can think of no better evidence for exhibiting the universality of periodicity than the study of astrology. The planets move in elipses and these are a form of periodicity. Taken together they offer almost unlimited variation. And they appear to reveal some unknown cyclic law of nature. The third object of the Theosophical Movement is to investigate the unexplained laws of nature. If anyone wanted to investigate astrology it would certainly be consistent with that third object of the Theosophical Movement.

Reed Carson



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