Of all the arts which have originated in ancient magian wisdom astrology is now the most misunderstood. No one believes any longer in the universal harmonies of nature and in the necessary interlacing of all effects with all causes.
Moreover, true astrology, that which connects with the unique and universal dogma of the Kabbalah, became profaned among the Greeks and among the Romans of the decline.
The doctrine of the seven spheres and the three mobilies, primitively issuing from the sephirotic decade, the character of the planets governed by angels, whose names have been changed into those of Pagan divinities, the influence of the spheres on one another, the destiny attached to numbers, the scale of proportion between the celestial hierarchies corresponding to the human hierarchies—all this has been materialised and degraded into superstition by genethliacal soothsayers and erecters of horoscopes during the decline and the middle ages.
The restoration of astrology to its primitive purity would be, in a sense, the creation of an entirely new science; here let us attempt merely to indicate its first principles, with their more immediate and approximate consequences.
We have said that the astral light receives and preserves the impressions of all visible things; it follows from this that the daily position of the heaven is reflected in this light, which, being the chief agent of life, operates the conception, gestation, and birth of children by a sequence of apparatuses naturally designed to this end.
Now, if this light be sufficiently prodigal of images to impart to the fruit of the womb the visible imprints of a maternal fantasy or appetite, still more will it transmit to the plastic and indeterminate temperament of a newly-born child the atmospheric impressions and diverse influences which, in the entire planetary system, are consequent at a given moment upon such or such particular aspect of the stars.
Nothing is indifferent in nature; a stone more or a stone less upon a road may break or completely modify the destinies of the greatest men or even the largest empires; still more must the position of this or that star in the sky have an influence on the child who is born, who enters by the very fact of his birth into the universal harmony of the sidereal world.
The stars are bound to one another by the attractions which hold them in equilibrium and cause them to move with uniformity through space. From all spheres unto all spheres there stretch these indestructible threads of light, and there is no point upon any planet to which one of them is not attached.
The true adept in astrology must, therefore, give heed to the precise time and place of the birth which is in question; then, after an exact calculation of the astral influences, it remains for him to compute the chances of estate, that is to say, the advantages or hindrances which the child must one day meet with by reason of position, relatives, inherited tendencies, and hence natural proclivities, in the fulfilment of his destinies. Finally, he will still have to take into consideration human liberty and its initiative, should the child eventually come to be a true man, and to isolate himself by an intrepid will from fatal influences and from the chain of destiny.
It will be seen that we do not allow too much to astrology, but so much as we leave it is indubitable; it is the scientific and magical calculus of probabilities.
Astrology is as ancient as astronomy, and indeed it is more ancient; all seers of lucid antiquity have accorded it their fullest confidence; now, we must not condemn and reject in a shallow manner anything which comes before us protected and supported by such imposing authorities. Long and patient observations, conclusive comparisons, frequently repeated experiences, must have led the old sages to their decisions, and to refute them the same labour must be undertaken from an opposite standpoint.
Paracelsus was perhaps the last of the great practical astrologers; he cured diseases by talismans formed under astral influences; he distinguished upon all bodies the mark of their dominant star; there, according to him, was the true universal medicine, the absolute science of nature, lost by man’s own fault, and recovered only by a small number of initiates.
To recognise the sign of each star upon men, animals, and plants, is the true natural science of Solomon, that science which is said to be lost, but the principles of which are preserved notwithstanding, as are all other secrets, in the symbolism of the Kabbalah.
It will be readily understood that in order to read the stars one must know the stars themselves; now, this knowledge is obtained by the kabbalistic domification of the sky and by the understanding of the celestial planisphere, recovered and explained by Gaffarel. In this planisphere the constellations form Hebrew letters, and the mythological figures may be replaced by the symbols of the Tarot. To this same planisphere Gaffarel refers the origin of patriarchal writing, and in the chains of starry attraction the first lineaments of primitive characters may very well have been found, in which case the celestial book would have served as the model of Henoch’s, and the kabbalistic alphabet would have been the synopsis of the entire sky.
This is not wanting in poetry, nor, above all, in probability, and the study of the Tarot, which is evidently the primitive and hieroglyphic work of Henoch, as was divined by the erudite Guillaume Postel, is sufficient to convince us hereof.
The signs imprinted in the astral light by the reflection and attraction of the stars is reproduced, therefore, as the sages have discovered, on all bodies which are formed by the conjunction of that light.
Men bear the signs of their star on their forehead chiefly, and in their hands; animals in their whole form, and in their individual signs; plants in their leaves and seed; minerals in their veins and their grain.
The study of these characters was the entire life work of Paracelsus, and the figures on his talismans are the result of his researches; he has, however, left us no key to them, so that the astral kabbalistic alphabet with its correspondences still remains to be done; as regards publicity, the science of unconventional magical writing stopped with the planisphere of Gaffarel.
The serious art of divination rests wholly in the knowledge of these signs. Chiromancy is the art of reading the writing of the stars in the lines of the hand, and physiognomy seeks the same or analogous characters upon the countenance of its inquirers. As a fact, the lines formed on the human face by nervous contractions are determined fatally, and the radiation of the nervous tissue is absolutely analogous to those networks which are formed between the worlds by the chains of starry attraction.
The fatalities of life are, therefore, written necessarily in our wrinkles, and a first glance frequently reveals upon the forehead of a stranger either one or more of the mysterious letters of the kabbalistic planisphere. Should the letter be jagged and laboriously inscribed, there has been a struggle between will and fatality, and in his most powerful emotions and tendencies, the individual’s entire past manifests to the magus; from this it becomes easy to conjecture the future, and if events occasionally deceive the sagacity of the diviner, he who has consulted him will remain none the less astounded and convinced by the superhuman knowledge of the adept.
The human head is formed upon the model of the celestial spheres; it attracts and it radiates, and in the conception of a child, this it is which first forms and manifests. Hence the head is subject in an absolute manner to astral influence, and evidences its several attractions by its diverse protuberances.
The final word of phrenology is to be found, therefore, in scientific and purified astrology, the problems of which we point out to the patience and good faith of scholars.
According to Ptolemy, the sun dries up and the moon moistens; according to the kabbalists, the sun represents rigorous Justice, while the moon is in sympathy with Mercy. It is the sun which produces storms, and, by a kind of gentle atmospheric pressure, the moon occasions the ebb and flow, or, as it were, the respiration of the sea.
We read in the Zohar, one of the great sacred books of the Kabbalah, that “the magical serpent, the son of the Sun, was about to devour the world, when the Sea, daughter of the Moon, set her foot upon his head and subdued him.”
For this reason, among the ancients, Venus was the daughter of the Sea, as Diana was identical with the Moon. Hence also the name of Mary signifies star or salt of the sea.
To consecrate this kabbalistic doctrine in the belief of the vulgar, it is said in prophetic language: The woman shall crush the serpent’s head.
Jerome Cardan, one of the boldest students, and, beyond contradiction the most skilful astrologer of his time—Jerome Cardan, who, if we accept the legend of his death, was a martyr to his faith in astrology, has left behind him a calculation by means of which any one can foresee the good or evil fortune special to all the years of his life. His theory was based upon his own experiences, and he assures us that the calculation never deceived him.
To ascertain the fortune of a given year, he sums up the events of those which have preceded it by 4, 8, 12, 19, and 30;
- the number 4 is that of realisation; * 8 is the number of Venus or natural things; * 12 belongs to the cycle of Jupiter, and corresponds to successes; * 19 has reference to the cycles of the Moon and of Mars; * the number 30 is that of Saturn or Fatality.
Thus, for example, I desire to ascertain what will befall me in this present year 1855; I pass in review the decisive events in the order of life and progress which occurred four years ago; the natural felicity or misfortune of eight years back; the successes or failures of twelve years since; the vicissitudes and miseries or diseases which overtook me nineteen years from now, and my tragic or fatal experiences of thirty years back.
Then, taking into account irrevocably accomplished facts and the advance of time, I calculate the chances analogous to those which I owe already to the influence of the same planets, and I conclude that in 1851 I had employment which was moderately but sufficiently remunerative, with some embarrassment of position; in 1847 I was violently separated from my family, with great attendant sufferings for mine and me; in 1843 I travelled as an apostle, addressing the people, and suffering the persecution of ill-meaning persons; briefly, I was at once honoured and proscribed. Finally, in 1825 family life came to an end for me, and I engaged definitely in a fatal path which led me to science and misfortune.
I may therefore suppose that I shall this year experience toil, poverty, vexation, heart-exile, change of place, publicity, and contradictions, with some eventuality which will be decisive for the rest of my life; every indication in the present leads me to endorse this forecast. Hence I conclude that, for myself and for this year, experience completely confirms the precision of Cardan’s astrological calculus, which, furthermore, connects with the climacteric years of ancient astrologers.
This term signifies arranged in scales or calculated on the degrees of a scale. Johannes Trithemius in his book on Secondary Causes has very curiously computed the return of fortunate or calamitous years for all the empires of the world. In the twenty-first chapter1 of our Ritual we shall give an exact analysis of this work, one even more clear than the original, together with a continuation of the labour of Trithemius to our own days and the application of his magical scale to contemporary events, so as to deduce the most striking probabilities relative to the immediate future of France, Europe, and the world.
According to all the grand masters in astrology, comets are the stars of exceptional heroes, and they only visit earth to signalise great changes; the planets preside over collective existences and modify the destinies of mankind in the aggregate; the fixed stars, more remote and more feeble in their action, attract individuals and determine their tendencies; sometimes a group of stars combine to influence the destinies of a single man, while often a great number of souls are drawn by the distant rays of the same sun.
When we die, our interior light in departing follows the attraction of its star, and thus it is that we live again in other universes, where the soul makes for itself a new garment, analogous to the development or diminution of its beauty; for our souls, when separated from our bodies, resemble revolving stars; they are globules of animated light which always seek their centre for the recovery of their equilibrium and their true movement.
Before all things, however, they must liberate themselves from the folds of the serpent, that is, the unpurified astral light which envelopes and imprisons them, unless the strength of their will can lift them beyond its reach.
The immersion of the living star in the dead light is a frightful torment, comparable to that of Mezentius. Therein the soul freezes and burns at the same time, and has no means of getting free except by re-entering the current of exterior forms and assuming a fleshly envelope, then energetically battling against instincts to strengthen that moral liberty which will permit it at the moment of death to break the chains of earth and wing its flight in triumph towards the star of consolation which has smiled in light upon it.
Following this clue, we can understand the nature of the fire of hell, which is identical with the demon or the old serpent; we can gather also wherein consist the salvation and reprobation of men, all called and all successively elected, but in small number, after having risked falling into the eternal fire through their own fault.
Such is the great and sublime revelation of the magi, a revelation which is the mother of all symbols, of all dogmas, of all religions. We can realise already how far Dupuis was mistaken in regarding astronomy as the source of every cultus. It is astronomy, on the contrary, which has sprung from astrology, and primitive astrology is one of the branches of the holy Kabbalah, the science of sciences, and the religion of religions.
Hence upon the seventeenth page of the Tarot we find an admirable allegory—a naked woman, typifying Truth, Nature, and Wisdom at one and the same time, turns two ewers towards the earth, and pours out fire and water upon it; above her head glitters the septenary, starred about an eight-pointed star, that of Venus, symbol of peace and love; the plants of earth are flourishing around the woman, and on one of them the butterfly of Psyche has alighted; this emblem of the soul is replaced in some copies of the sacred book by a bird, which is a more Egyptian and probably a more ancient symbol. In the modern Tarot the plate is entitled the Glittering Star; it is analogous to a number of Hermetic symbols, and is also in correspondence with the Blazing Star of Masonic initiates, which expresses most of the mysteries of Rosicrucian secret doctrine.
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