Portrait of Madame Blavatsky resized


No Religion Higher Than Truth

Astrology and Astrolatry

From Blavatsky Collected Writings
Vol. 14, pgs 342-352

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 ha lf-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)* [Footnote: * Sesostris, or Pharaoh Ramses II, whose mummy was unswathed in 1886 by Maspero of the Bulak Museum, and recognised as that of the greatest king of Egypt, whose grandson, Ramses III, was the last king of an ancient kingdom.]—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. Bailly, speaking with only an imperfect knowledge of the former, called Astrology, so far back as the eighteenth century, “The very foolish mother of a very wise daughter”—Astronomy. On the other hand, D.F.J. Arago, a luminary of the nineteenth century, supports the reality of the sidereal influence of the Sun, Moon and Planets. He asks:

Where do we find lunar influences refuted by arguments that science would dare to avow? * [Footnote: * Arago, Annuaire, 1833, p. 234, in de Mirville, Des Esprits, IV, 84.]

But even M. Bailly, having, as he thought, put down Astrology as publicly practiced, dares not do the same with the real Astrology. He says:

Judiciary Astrology was at its origin the result of a profound system, the work of an enlightened nation that would wander too far into the mysteries of God and Nature. † [Footnote: † Bailly, Histoire de L’astronomie ancienne . . . Paris, Chez de Bure, 2nd ed., 1781, p. 268, in de Mirville, op. cit., p. 87.]

A Scientist of a more recent date, a member of the Institute of France, and a professor of history, Ph. Lebas, discovers (unconsciously to himself) the very root of Astrology in his able article on the subject in the Dictionnaire Encyclopédique de France. He well understands, he tells his readers, that the adhesion to that Science of such a number of highly intellectual men should be in itself a sufficient motive for believing that all Astrology is not folly:

While proclaiming in politics the sovereignty of the people and of public opinion can we admit, as heretofore, that mankind allowed itself to be radically deceived in this only: that an absolute and gross absurdity reigned in the minds of whole nations for so many centuries, without being based on anything save—on the one hand human imbecility, and on the other charlatanry? How for fifty centuries and more can most men have been either dupes or knaves? . . . Even though we may find it impossible to decide between and separate the realities of Astrology from the elements of invention and empty dreaming in it, let us, nevertheless, repeat with Bossuet and all modern philosophers, that “nothing that has been dominant could be absolutely false.” Is it not true, at all events, that there is a physical reaction on one another among the planets? Is it not again true, that the planets have an influence on the atmosphere, and consequently at any rate a mediate action on vegetation and animals? Has not modern science demonstrated now these two points beyond any doubt? . . . Is it any less true that human liberty of action is not absolute; that all is bound, that all weighs, planets as the rest, on each individual will; that Providence [or Karma] acts on us and directs men through those relations that it has established between them and the visible objects, and the whole universe? . . . Astrology, in its essence, is nothing but that; we are bound to recognise that an instinct superior to the age they lived in guided the efforts of these men. As to the materialism and annihilation of human moral freedom with which Bailly charges their theory [Astrology], they have no sense whatever. All the great astrologers admitted, without one single exception, that man could react against the influence of the stars. This principle is established in the Ptolemaeian Tetrabiblos, the true astrological Scripture, in chapters ii and iii of Book I.* [Footnote: * Dictionnaire encyclopédique de France, p. 422: art. on Astrology by Ph. Lebas; quoted by de Mirville, op. cit., IV, 88-89.]

Thomas Aquinas had corroborated Lebas in anticipation; he says:

The celestial bodies are the cause of all that happens in this sublunary world; they act indirectly on human actions; but not all the effects produced by them are unavoidable. †[Footnote: † Summa, t. III, pp. 2, 29.]

The Occultists and Theosophists are the first to confess that there is white and black Astrology. Nevertheless, Astrology aspects by those who wish to become proficient in it; and the good or bad results obtained do not depend upon the principles, which are the same in both kinds, but upon the Astrologer himself. Thus Pythagoras, who established the whole Copernican system by the Books of Hermes, 2,000 years before Galileo’s predecessor was born, found and studied in them the whole Science of divine Theogony, of the communication with, and the evocation of, the world’s Rectors—the Princes or the “Principalities” of St. Paul—the nativity of each Planet and of the Universe itself, the formulae of incantations and the consecration of each portion of the human body to the respective Zodiacal sign corresponding to it. All this cannot be regarded as childish and absurd—still less “devilish”—save by those who are, and wish to remain, tyros in the Philosophy of the Occult Sciences. No true thinker—no one who recognises the presence of a common bond between man and visible, as well as invisible, Nature—would see in the old relics of Archaic Wisdom—such as the Petemenoph Papyrus, for instance—”childish nonsense and absurdity,” as many Academicians and Scientists have done. But upon finding in such ancient documents the application of the Hermetic rules and laws, such as

The consecration of one’s hair to the celestial Nile; of the left temple to the living Spirit in the sun, and the right one to the spirit of Ammon, * [Footnote: * De Mirville, op. cit., IV, 93.]

he will endeavour to study and comprehend better the “laws of correspondences.” Nor will he disbelieve in the antiquity of Astrology on the plea that some Orientalists have thought fit to declare that the Zodiac was not very ancient, being only the invention of the Greeks of the Macedonian period. For this statement, besides having been shown to be entirely erroneous by a number of other reasons, may be entirely disproved by facts relating to the latest discoveries in Egypt, and by the more accurate readings of hieroglyphics and inscriptions of the earliest dynasties. The published polemics on the contents of the so-called “Magic” Papyri of the Anastasi collection indicate the antiquity of the Zodiac.

The papyri discourse upon the four bases of the world, , the identity of which it is impossible, according to Champollion, to mistake with the Upholders of the World or  of St. Paul. It is they who are invoked with the gods of all the celestial zones, quite analogous, once more, with the spiritualia nequitiae in câelestibus of the same Apostle. *[Footnote: * “The principalities and powers [born] in heavenly places” (Ephes. iii, 10). The verse, “for though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many and lords many)” (I Corinth. viii, 5), shows, at any rate, the recognition by Paul of a plurality of “Gods” whom he calls “daemons” (“spirits”—never devils). Principalities, Thrones, Dominions, Rectors, etc., are all Jewish and Christian names for the Gods of the ancients—the Archangels and Angels of the former being in every case the Devas and the Dhyâni-Chohans of the more ancient religions.]
That invocation was frequently made in the proper terms and with the warnings the formula of which has been reproduced far too faithfully by Iamblichus, for us ever to refuse him any longer the merit of having transmitted to posterity the ancient and primitive Egyptian spirit. †[Footnote: † C.J.C. Reuvens, Lettre à M. Letronne . . . sur les papyrus bilingues et grecs, etc., Leyden, 1930. Cf. de Mirville, Des Esprits, IV, 93-94.]

As Letronne had tried to prove that all the genuine Egyptian Zodiacs had been manufactured during the Roman period, the Sensaos mummy is brought forward to show that:

. . . all the Zodiacal monuments in Egypt were chiefly astronomical. Royal tombs and funereal rituals are so many tables of constellations and of their influences for all the hours of every month. Thus the genethliac tables prove that they are far older than the period assigned to their origin . . . All the Zodiacs on the sacrcophagi of later epochs are therefore simply reminiscences or imitations of purely mythological tables. ‡ [Footnote: ‡ Reuvens and de Mirville, ibid.]

Primitive Astrology was as far above modern judiciary Astrology, so-called, as the guides (the Planets and Zodiacal signs) are above the lamp-posts. Berosus shows the sidereal sovereignty of Bel and Mylitta (Sun and Moon), and only “the twelve lords of the Zodiacal Gods,” the “thirty-six Gods Counsellors” and the “twenty-four Stars, judges of this world,” which support and guide the Universe (our solar system), watch over mortals and reveal to mankind its fate and their own decrees. Judiciary Astrology as it is now known, is correctly denominated by the Latin Church the

Materialistic and pantheistic prophesying by the objective planet itself, independently of its Rector [the Mlac of the Jews, the ministers of the Eternal commissioned by him to announce his will to mortals]; the ascension or conjunction of the planet at the moment of the birth of an individual deciding his fortune and the moment and mode of his death. *[Footnote: * St. Augustine (de Gen., Bk. III) and M. Delrio (Disquisitionum magicarum, Vol. IV, chap. iii) are quoted by de Mirville, [in Des Esprits, IV, 99] to show that “the more astrologers speak the truth and the better they prophesy it, the more one has to feel diffident, seeing that their agreement with the devil becomes thereby the more apparent.” The famous statement made by Juvenal (Satires, Vl, 562) to the effect that “not one single astrologer could be found who did not pay dearly for the help he received from his genius”—no more proves the latter to be a devil than the death of Socrates proves his daimôn to have been a native from the nether world—if such there be. Such argument only demonstrates human stupidity and wickedness, once reason is made subservient to prejudice and fanaticism of every sort. Most of the great writers of antiquity, Cicero and Tacitus among them, believed in Astrology and the realization of its prophecies; and “the penalty of death decreed nearly everywhere against those mathematicians [astrologers] who happened to predict falsely diminished neither their number nor their tranquility of mind.”]

Every student of Occultism knows that the heavenly bodies are closely related during each Manvantara with the mankind of that special cycle; and there are some who believe that each great character born during that period has—as every other mortal has, only in a far stronger degree—his destiny outlined within his proper constellation or star, traced as a self-prophecy, an anticipated autobiography, by the indwelling Spirit of that particular star. The human Monad in its first beginning is that Spirit, or the Soul of that star (Planet) itself. As our Sun radiates its light and beams on every body in space within the boundaries of its system, so the Regent of every Planet-star, the Parent-monad, shoots out from itself the Monad of every “pilgrim” Soul born under its house within its own group. The Regents are esoterically seven, whether in the Sephîrôth, the “Angels of the Presence,” the Rishis, or the Amshâspends. “The One is no number” is said in all the esoteric works.

From the Kasdim and Gazzim (Astrologers) the noble primitive science passed to the Khartumim Asaphim (or Theologians) and the Hakamim (or scientists, the Magicians of the lower class), and from these to the Jews during their captivity. The Books of Moses had been buried in oblivion for centuries, and when rediscovered by Hilkiah had lost their true sense for the people of Israel. Primitive Occult Astrology was on the decline when Daniel, the last of the Jewish Initiates of the old school, became the chief of the Magi and Astrologers of Chaldaea. In those days even Egypt, who had her wisdom from the same source as Babylon, had degenerated from her former grandeur, and her glory had begun to fade out. Still, the science of old had left her eternal imprint on the world, and the seven great Primitive Gods reigned for ever in the Astrology and in the division of time of every nation upon the face of the earth. The names of the days of our (Christian) week are those of the Gods of the Chaldaeans, who translated them from those of the Âryans; the uniformity of these antediluvian names in every nation, from the Goths back to the Indians, would remain inexplicable, as Sir W. Jones thought, had not the riddle been explained to us by the invitation made by the Chaldaean oracles, recorded by Porphyry and quoted by Eusebius:

To carry those names first to the Egyptian and Phoenician colonies then to the Greeks, with the express recommendation that each God should be invoked only on that day that had been called by his name. . . .
Thus Apollo says in those oracles: “I must be invoked on the day of the sun; Mercury after his directions, then Chronos [Saturn], then Venus and do not fail to call seven times each of those gods.” *[Footnote: * Preparatio Evangelica, I, xiv.]

This is slightly erroneous. Greece did not get her astrological instruction from Egypt or from Chaldaea, but direct from Orpheus, as Lucian tells us.†[Footnote: † Peri tes astrologies, 11.] It was Orpheus, as he says, who imparted the Indian Sciences to nearly all the great monarchs of antiquity; and it was they, the ancient kings favored by the Planetary Gods, who recorded the principles of Astrology—as did Ptolemy, for instance. Thus Lucian writes:

The Boeotian Tiresias acquired the greatest reputation in the art of predicting futurity. . . . In those days divination was not as slightly treated as it is now; and nothing was ever undertaken without previous consultation with diviners, whose oracles were all directed by astrology. . . . At Delphos the virgin commissioned to announce futurity was the symbol of the Heavenly Virgin, . . . and Our Lady.

On the sarcophagus of an Egyptian Pharaoh, Neith, mother of Râ, the heifer that brings forth the Sun, her body spangled with stars, and wearing the solar and lunar discs, is equally referred to as the “Heavenly Virgin” and “Our Lady of the Starry Vault.”

Modern judiciary Astrology in its present form began only during the time of Diodorus, as he apprises the world. * [Footnote: * Historical library, Bk. II.] 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 Firmânus 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† [ Footnote: † [Alternate spelling: Hadrian.]] , 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.‡ [Footnote:‡ All these particulars may be found more fully and far more completely in Champollion-Figeac’s Egypte moderne, p. 101.]  Judiciary Astrology is used to this day by the Kabalists; and Éliphas Lévi, the modern French Magus, teaches its rudiments in his Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie. But the key to ceremonial or ritualistic Astrology, with the teraphim and the urim and thummim of Magic, is lost to Europe. Hence our century of Materialism shrugs it shoulders and sees in Astrology—a pretender.
Not all scientists scoff at it, however, and one may rejoice in reading in the Musée des Sciences the suggestive and fair remarks made by Le Couturier, a man of science of no mean reputation. He thinks it curious to notice that while the bold speculations of Democritus are found vindicated by Dalton,

. . . the reveries of the alchemists are also on their way to a certain rehabilitation. They receive renewed life from the minute investigations of their successors, the chemists; a very remarkable thing indeed is to see how much modern discoveries have served to vindicate, of late, the theories of the Middle Ages from the charge of absurdity laid at their door. Thus, if, as demonstrated by Col. Sabine, the direction of a piece of steel, hung a few feet above the soil, may be influenced by the position of the moon, whose body is at a distance of 240,000 miles from our planet, who then could accuse of extravagance the belief of the ancient astrologers [or the modern, either] in the influence of the stars on human destiny.* [Footnote: * Le Musée des sciences, p. 230, as quoted by de Mirville, Des Esprits IV, 85-86.]

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