Italians have never needed much encouragement to believe in a wisdom of the stars, but if you want to prove astrology to the average layperson today, arguably the best and easiest way is via the new study of asteroids. One scarcely needs to know or understand astrology to absorb their evidence. Asteroids truly help describe not just persons but even the characteristics and concerns of nations and peoples.
I will demonstrate this through the fascinating case of modern Italy which became a republic after being a kingdom on 10th June 1946 (at 6 pm in Rome) thus finally realizing earlier nationalist aims begun by Mazzini in the nineteenth century. Italy is an ideal test case because it has an abundance of asteroids that can be applied to its pattern and famous figures. But in a few paragraphs I shall first set the scene by briefly describing salient features of the nation’s chart from the traditional standpoint that emphasizes planets and houses and against whose pattern the asteroids appear and interact with such great descriptive accuracy against chance.
Italy’s sun resides in the sign of Gemini, the Twins and division. This reflects how ever since Romulus and Remus there has been something of a civil war or at least competition taking place through the Italian peninsula. City has been against city, north against south, the Papal states against the rest. Even Italian art is a story of many rivalries between artists. But Gemini is also the sign of language and the late achieved Italian nationhood would entail imposition of a single language upon the peninsula’s numerous dialects. Even before nationhood, the country’s Renaissance was itself very much a linguistic revolution dependent upon the discovery and translation of ancient texts. Nationhood finally settled upon a language, one based on the Florentine employed by the Gemini poet Dante. Gemini is also the sign of the hands and no country in the world has more by way of a language of signs through the hands.
The national sun is conjuncted by the natural ruler of futuristic Aquarius, Uranus, a pointer to independence even to the point of anarchy, originality and the periodic flashes of a Renaissance type genius. The national sun is in the eighth house of secrets and the hidden, of sex, death – Italy loves big funerals and has drivers with something of a death wish! – shared resources and debts. Italy is full of secrets and has been home to a variety of secret societies and financial scandals. Yet most things will surface and become visible eventually. With the sun and all the planets in the upper half of the birth pattern, the nation is essentially extravert, ideas and feelings are demonstrated and shown.
Self-image, image before the world, national mythos and the body of the people will nonetheless all be described by the first house with its rising/ascendant sign. This is Scorpio, typically the sign of sex, death, mysteries, the occult (Renaissance magus Marsilio Ficino was a Scorpio) and mega power. Positively this has something to do with Italians feeling themselves to be inheritors of the Roman empire which bore its power across the world beneath the eagle of Scorpio. Italy celebrates the traditional birth of Rome under opposite sign, Taurus, but the long lasting empire was of the Taurus/Scorpio axis.
Scorpio rises at 17 degrees to define the first house, but the national moon representing emotions, home, women and mothers falls behind the ascendant angle at 4 Scorpio somewhat obscured in the twelfth house of dreams, films, loss, the unconscious and mysticism. With the moon here, home has something private and absolute about it and might actually be lost (as through massive emigration and natural disaster) while women could be seen as the great mystery and/or a notable sex object especially in this also films-associated sector.
The most personal emotions run deep and strong and could at worst be vengeful (the Italian vengeance drama is celebrated) and despite popular ideas about Latin temperament, Italians are not wholly spontaneous – Italian watcher John Hooper even writes of “the people who don’t dance”, (they don’t just jump up and down like Spaniards to express joy, they prefer a little more dignity and calculated effects). Scorpionic Italy can be serious and it’s obviously the Italy of Mafia and ecclesiastical mysteries, the shadowy and at times coarser and angrier side of an otherwise physically and temperamentally bright and polite society, indeed so bright many might doubt intense Scorpio could ever possibly rise and assume the defining role it does.
The seeming contradiction of a national brightness hiding an also essential dark is due to the exact aspect of a genial Jupiter at 17 Libra to the 17 degree Scorpio ascendant angle. Added to which the national Jupiter is in a robust fortunate trine aspect to the 19 Gemini national Sun. Jupiter in Libra aspecting both ascendant and sun and from the eleventh sector of friends, hopes and wishes, bespeaks style, refinement, optimism, the arts, l’amore, a disinclination to fight, elements of dolce vita, a certain will to be happily idle (dolce fa niente) and both to establish and ignore many laws. Italian-American Heritage month falls in Libra’s month, October. This Libran Jupiter is definitely a major key to at any rate the most visible and popular side of Italian character and culture.
By contrast, it’s not the eighth house that carries the sun nor the eleventh that carries Jupiter but the ninth house of beliefs and religion which contains Jupiter’s opposite: serious Saturn. It’s a planet without natural affinity for the house (Jupiter is the ninth’s natural affinity). Its position bespeaks especially Catholicism as bastion of order and tradition not to say some ongoing national difficulties with, even cynicism around, an often politicized religion which via the Great Mother sign of Cancer inclines to Marian devotion. Catholicism is Roman Catholicism, and anticipating the concern here with the asteroids, it is noticeable that Saturn aspects Romulus, builder of Rome’s first temple. Only because Jupiter (whose highest octave is religious and philosophical) is so strong in the national chart does Italy work with the Saturnian nature of the predominant faith to the extent it does.
The ninth house always covers aspects of a nation’s legal profile, especially its judges. Saturn here points to the notoriously slow dealings of the national legal system and its relative ineffectiveness in punishment of crime, a situation helped by the mentioned Jupiter in Libra, sign of laws, which in its negative expression can simply inflate the number of legal dealings at the same time as it may indulgently permit too many loopholes. Close to Saturn from just inside the previous eighth sector, Venus’ conjunction to Saturn signals various things, including that love/eros in Italy is related to a few mama mia complexes (the phenomenon of mammoni sons) rather as in Israel Venus in Cancer bespeaks some yiddishe momma issues. However, three planets in Cancer including quick witted, inventive Mercury and within conjunction of a world point (0 Cancer) and then with even Essen (Ger.food) in the sign, clearly announces the importance of food and dining for the entire culture and its world fame besides.
Finally I note that the celebrated drama and grandeur of Italy, the tendency where possible to build a palace rather than a house, a cathedral rather than a church, is linked to a Leonine factor. Both Mars and Pluto fall in Leo in the ninth house, Mars being within conjunction of a destiny, reputation and leadership related Midheaven angle also in Leo – big building Mussolini was a Leo – and conjunct the fixed star Regulus, a bestower of honours and fame. More could be said, but this is enough to supply the main features of the chart in traditional, planetary terms.
SEEING THROUGH THE ASTEROID WINDOW
Although as in striking instances given presently a national chart will recapitulate a cultural past, obviously it describes what is developing at the time of birth. For Italy this was the nation’s new expression in 1946 as a republic; any asteroids in the first house of image and mythos are therefore significant for that. The chart affirms the republican ideal whose chief founder and exponent was if anyone Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872). Accordingly asteroid Mazzini rises in the first house at O Sagittarius, sign of theories and ideals and he is followed at 6 degrees by Unitas the principle beloved of nationalist theory. This pair have been preceded at 23 Scorpio by Verdi, whose operas early functioned as a national unifier. His chorus of the Hebrew Slaves in Nabucco, rapidly became an anthem for the national independence and unification movement now finding new expression. But Italians are anyway a people who sing – of freedom, love or whatever. Asteroid Chant (Fr. Song) rises behind Verdi at 5 Sagittarius close to the Unitas the nation desires and from where it makes almost to the minute perfect aspect to a 5 degree Libran Neptune, ruler of anything musical. In short, it’s a signature for a people of opera in their past, present and future. Monteverdi with whom opera seriously begins, rises just within the first at 15 Sagittarius.
Even so, the rising Scorpio that defines the first house surely puts its stamp on the whole by the way it contains asteroid UmbertoEco, author of the complex murder mystery, The Name of the Rose rising at 28 Scorpio (and even in trine to asteroid Rosa in the eighth house of death!). Below him, still just within the first house and reflecting an image some have of Italy less as home of the cheerful enthusiast than the radical cynic or even nay-saying melancholic behind the smiles, is a conjunction of Renaissance philosopher Machiavelli with tragic, Romantic era atheist poet Leopardi at 12 and 13 Sagittarius respectively.
As stressed, modern Italian identity is unusually based upon discovery and imposition of a language. Language and writing are related to the third house whose affinity is with the third sign, Gemini. It’s surely against chance that we find in precisely this house asteroid Manzoni whose classic novel The Betrothed, virtually established what form Italian must assume, namely an updated version of the Florentine Tuscan dialect employed by Dante. Dante’s crucial move to use the vernacular rather than Latin was anticipated by St Francis of Assisi who wrote poetry in Umbrian. If Francis can stand for St Francis (and he likely should since there is no other asteroid could be used and he widely conjuncts Clara besides), then Francis is just within the third house at 27 of original Aquarius . From there he also opposes the Midheaven of any national leadership which for such an anti-establishment figure seems correct.
There are two other points of relevance in this third house. Though late developed, Italian is one of the Romance languages whose roots are in Latin. So we find asteroid Roman is strong and pointing to novelty at 0 Aquarius in this house of language. Interestingly too its cusp is conjuncted by Pinocchio, a book which though now internationally famous as a child’s fairytale, some consider to be something of an adult’s fairytale that portrays important elements of the national character.
Sometimes obviously, sometimes subtly, national pictures will recapitulate cultures and character (a principle wonderfully exemplified in the chart for modern Israel whose Solomon is conjuncted by The Part of Wisdom). For Italy what may be the most striking case is how asteroids Dante and Vergilius form conjunction in the eighth house at 25 Gemini. The conjunction is remarkable seeing that, as is well known, Dante employed Virgil as his literary model and spiritual mentor who conducts him through Hell and Purgatory, Virgil’s Aeneid itself having conducted its readers to Hades. Both poets fall in the eighth house which can cover for any debt, death, hell and transformation issues. Yet neither asteroids are in the house of national language with Manzoni. But again, and remarkably against chance, at 25 degrees they are making exact quincunx aspect (150 degree ) to Manzoni and a meaning of that aspect is “adjustments must be made”. Precisely adjustments are what Manzoni would deliver in forming modern Italian out of the tradition of Dante.
Due to the great amount of information available, for brevity’s sake I shall select and divide up material into three sections 1) politics and the land, 2) art and creativity 3) Philosophy, Faith and Values.
POLITICS AND THE LAND.
The enduring division of Italy along with its mafia and secretive side is well reflected in the way Puglia (a major underdeveloped region of the south at 18 Virgo is in direct stress square aspect to the national sun. In rather the same way Sicilia (Sicily) at 4 Leo is in exact stress square to the nation’s Scorpio moon. This suggests the island’s long history and cultural identity is at risk of being undermined by hidden forces, not least because at 27 Scorpio, Palermo, a major centre of Mafia, makes stress square to the Midheaven of leadership and destiny – the government can be beholden to hidden forces! Italy’s Gemini sun “rules” the Leo destiny/career/leadership Midheaven, but Gemini itself being a mutable sign, this potentially encourages frequent changes in government and leadership following 1946. Although no asteroid for South exists, the long standing North/South tension seems reflected in the way that asteroid Nord (North) at 17 Taurus exactly opposes the national ascendant, in some respects an opposition to the general interest, the body of the people at large.
There is no asteroid for Milan unless Mediolanum, its Latin name, but this happens to be both in semi-sextile aspect (often deemed a financial aspect) to Nord from 18 Aries and in opportunity sextile aspect to the native sun. So Milan can drive the necessary economic machine but not necessarily to the benefit of the South. At the same time Milan/Mediolanum is perennially a, or the, major creative hub of Italy in arts, science, industry and also religion – even western Christianity as exemplified by Roman Catholicism was largely formed by Ss Augustine and Ambrose working in ancient Milan in the century after the Edict of Milan had made Christianity legal. Suitably Augustinus at 19 Leo in the religion house sextiles the national sun at 19 Gemini and trines Mediolanum at 18 Aries a sign of Augustine’s enduring influence on attitudes and policies.
The fourth sector of any chart is the place of origins, ancestors, home and its territory, the land itself. Italy’s origins house contains Italia at 0 of oceanic Pisces. This seems relevant to being a largely sea-girt peninsula much of whose traditional wealth derived from sea trade. Within the same house is Roma at 13 Pisces, an indication Italy is the descendant of imperial Rome. (The great classicist Petrarch called his homeland of many warring states Italia simply because the Romans once called the peninsula by that name). The more specifically Christian legacy is represented by San Pedro at 23 Pisces. Here St Peter is not simply a forefather in faith but one who gives his name to an actual piece of land as far as St Peter’s basilica and the related Vatican territory is concerned and so, unsurprisingly, San Pedro trines the crucial religion house Saturn, a suggestion of Papal states or property. With Aquarius (accidents, surprises) on the fourth cusp exactly opposed from fiery Leo by Vesuvius (itself loosely conjunct Etna), some disposition to natural disaster seems to attach to the land and at any time Italy might come to an end it would likely be through fire, quake and volcano.
ART AND CREATIVITY.
Anything to do with the arts, especially visual arts, is associated with Venus. There is accordingly significance in the fact that Venus at 21 Cancer (the chief sign for painting) at the end of the eighth house is bracketed by Saturn at 23 Cancer in the ninth of Religion and Vaticana in the eighth of shared resources at 19 Cancer. What all this means is that the artists and their art will have a special relation to the church as patron and also to the ancient classical world (Saturn) drawing upon its traditions and ideals. Since however the eighth is the house of eros, it follows sex, or at least the sensuous, will colour the arts in everything from the way that the artist’s mistress might portray a Madonna or the baroque style engage sensation.
Creativity itself is generally of the fifth house so it seems relevant that within it at 19 Aries is asteroid Imago with its implication – despite Dante, Verdi et al including the novelist Moravia whose asteroid falls on this degree, – for the supremacy of the visual in Italian creative endeavour.
There are obviously lacunae, but many names in Italian art and music have their asteroid. One would need a very thorough knowledge of art and biography to interpret each position, some are clearer than others. Asteroid Bernini at 6 of original Aquarius connected by trine to Neptune (any dreams) at 5 Libra marks the sculptor who more than any other realized the beauty of motion and dream in marble. Michelangelo, all of sculptor, painter, poet and architect, is in the house of destiny and reputation as undoubtedly one of Italy’s most completely iconic figures at 14 Virgo from where he connects by trine – just – to another Renaissance genius, Leonardo at 16 Capricorn. The latter’s rather unexpected sign and position (second house) likely reflects the heavy scientific input (Capricorn) to his work and his concern with money and pay for his work (second house). In terms of real connection however, through their work on St Peter’s it is notable that Michelangelo connects to High Renaissance architect Bramante by semi-sextile (a meetings/connections aspect) at 13 Leo.
If Italian painting may be said to begin with Cimabue and Giotto, then that seems reflected in the way that at 0 and 11 of Gemini respectively this pair introduced some of the realism, humanism and expression of this mutable sign away from the pure fixity of the Byzantine art of icon and mosaic which has more natural affinity with the previous sign of “fixed” Taurus.
Overall, like Michelangelo and Leonardo, leading Italian artists tend to take the middle degrees of a sign from around 13 to 18: Leopardi 13 Sagittarius, Vivaldi 14 Gemini, Monteverdi 15 Sagittarius, Puccini 16 Aries, Fellini 17 Cancer, Botticelli 18 Aries. If they don’t there’s some reason like the brilliant but unfortunate Tasso at 24 of shocking Aquarius in the writing house opposite Mars, an aspect involved with the misfortunes of his madness and painful dealings with authorities. Rebel and virtual criminal Caravaggio at 9 Taurus is almost predictably in exact stress square to the power and religion factor of Pluto at 9 Leo in the religion house. Raphaela (originally asteroids were registered in female form) conjuncts the leadership Midheaven itself conjunct the star of fame, Regulus. This has to reflect not just Raphael’s extreme popularity internationally (reproductions of his Sistine Madonna in so many Catholic homes), but the unusually easy favour he enjoyed as an artist with precisely the papacy and leaders. (No asteroid I know of for Italy or elsewhere covers for Pope or Papacy unless at 17 Aquarius for Italy and 19 Capricorn for the Vatican it’s possibly the father asteroid Abbe, a matter that may become clearer over the next couple of years as Italy and Vatican undergo distinct challenges).
Still more descriptive is Petrarca’s 23 Aries in the creative fifth house in tense square to Catholicism’s Saturn at 23 in the religious/philosophical ninth. This suggests the poet’s controversial Christian humanist theory against late medieval religion that Christianity in some respects continues and fulfils the classical world, a theory that helped facilitate the Renaissance synthesis. By contrast Petrarca trines Ungaretti at 23 Sagittarius. In the last century Ungaretti reformed Italian poetry (towards Modernism) as Petrarch in his generation helped reform poetry through especially the Sonnet form.
It could be harder to understand why Pavarotti (in stress square to Verdi !) and Paganini are in the “religious” sector, but as that house also covers principles (philosophy) this may be pointing to questions Pavarotti’s personal life and career raised (including as regards the commercialization of opera), while the dissolute Paganini was always seen as evil and believed to have sold his soul to the devil, a question for religion, certainly. An odd ball heretic philosopher who likewise raised questions for religion, Giordano Bruno, makes his way into the ninth via the Giordano asteroid. Paganini was heterosexual, but if so many notable culture heroes like Michelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli, Donatello and more recently such as Visconti, Versace, Zeffirelli and Pasolini have been gay this must be referred to the national sun conjunct Uranus. A symbol at one level of intellectual brilliance and difference at another, Uranus often points to homosexuality. The Renaissance was born in the exceptionally gay-friendly Florence while only today more information is emerging about the practice of same-sex marriages in Renaissance Rome. Definitely Italy is not to be described through Casanova (though for better or worse he is so iconic he does make it like Michelangelo to the tenth sector of national reputation).
What is most distinctive about Italian art of all kinds is a certain urge towards the ideal and beautiful. This is supported by especially two factors. First that asteroid Bella (beautiful) at 16 Gemini is conjunct the national Uranus (its genius, the exceptional) at 17 (and more loosely the sun at 19) and then trine Jupiter at 17 of Libra, the often artistic sign of good form and balance. La bella figura is what Italy and Italians seek to present. They will also speak la bella lingua. Beauty rules and also poetry, or at least the poetizing of things because Poesia at 28 plus of Pisces is within conjunction of the 0 degree Aries (a world point) cusp of the fifth house of general creativity (and any love affairs….and yes, Italy does have Amor in the house!). This is beauty that can go international and which in modern times would spawn a major fashion industry. However, the Bella word and concept unusually defines the ethics of Italy almost replacing the ethical with the aesthetic judgement. E bello, (it’s beautiful/lovely) also means it’s good within a language where bueno (good) as in buongiorno is not that strong. And this leads to the final and most complex issue of what Italians really think and believe. It’s a fascinating subject in which my observations are influenced by two notable recent studies, John Hooper’s The Italians and Tobias Jones’ The Dark Heart of Italy (broadcaster and journalist Jones is a Scorpio with his sun conjunct Italy’s moon –he can tell you a few things!).
PHILOSOPHY, FAITH AND VALUES.
The chart shows two forms of Italian philosophy. With Philosophia conjunct the Italian sun, arguably the core philosophy may be simply the Italian way of life itself. Formal philosophy however is represented by ThomasAquinas at 19 Cancer exact conjunct Vaticana which last still pronounces under that philosopher’s influence which in some respects means under the influence of Aristotle too. The universe of Dante is set out and judged following certain ethical principles of Aristotle which don’t in all cases correspond to either biblical or common sense. Aquinas also had a strong line on beauty but associated it rather with the intellect and recognition of harmonies than the senses as such. Dante would famously declare “beauty awakens the soul to act” . If what’s good is assessed against what looks good, (or even measured against abstract reason and the intellect), can what’s right be quite known? The spirit which is unique to humans as opposed to the soul (biblical nephesh which even animals possess in order to exist), may need more than beauty. Warning signals against recourse to the easy subjective aesthetic judgement is supplied in the way that Italy’s Lucifer (the devil as light) at 17 Cancer makes exact semi-sextile, a meeting aspect, to precisely Bella and exact easy trine to the imagination-defining ascendant.
A hint that Italy might actually be somewhat confused about good and evil is offered by the conjunction in the philosophy sign Sagittarius of asteroids Goode at I degree and Veritas at 2 degrees, with Malus (Bad) at 1 degree. Conjunctions are very for or against something, a mark of harmony or conflict depending – here it’s clearly conflict (in the way that Plato and Boccaccio conjunct at 29 Cancer are like reason against instinct, gay against straight etc!). Further confirmation of some conflict and confusion is given by the way Christen (Ger. Christians) at 8 Leo in the religion house makes easy trine to Malin (the devil as darkness)) at 8 of religion/philosophy sign Sagittarius. Apart from the fact that this likely reflects how it is in Italy exorcism has been revived and is more taught and used among Catholics in Italy than anywhere, it also implies it might be easy to deceive Christians about what’s right and wrong in and out of religion. Like Pinocchio’s nose which grows with every lie, untruth is perhaps one of the greatest problems for Italy compounded as it is, to follow Hooper, by a tendency towards free flowing fantasy, not necessarily malicious but which can make up reality as it goes. The same kind of extravagance can cast so many veils over the facts you may never quite get to the bottom of any major scandal or crimes as Jones demonstrates – even history with its facts is called storia in Italian!
The crucial influence of untruth whether deliberate or more fanciful, seems shown by asteroid Lie conjunct Christian strong on the descendant angle directly opposing the rising – the body of people, their image and mythos. Since conjunctions are very harmonious or conflicted, this could mean either there are too many Christians who lie, or more likely that from the seventh house of war and peace the Lie is the great enemy of national life so that Christians need to fight its power, though they will put themselves against the body social if they do so, much as those who fight the Mafia have their problems.
What do Italians really believe? It’s an intriguing question. Hooper cites statistics which reveal Padre Pio (no asteroid) is vastly more prayed to than Jesus and even the traditionally favoured Virgin. Maria at 20 Cancer conjuncts Venus at 21 and thus she haunts the imagination through numerous images everywhere displayed and sold throughout Italy. Years of life in Italy persuade Jones that Italians are so concerned with the saints, relation to God hardly exists. It’s almost too democratic! If so, again our data provide some clues how and why this situation comes about. With asteroid Credo in pragmatic, conservative Capricorn in opposition to the Venus/Saturn conjunction associated here with Catholicism, it looks as though Italians are liable to be challenged by and will sustain a love/hate relation to Catholicism, but we can go a bit further…..
Asteroid Theotes (God or Godhead) is caught in one of those conflicted conjunctions, this time at 13 Sagittarius with virtual and actual atheists Machiavelli and Leopardi; but from the struggles of this bed of doubt it makes a trine to Isa (Ar. Jesus) at 14 of regal Leo in the religion house. It’s a connection which would support all and any Christ the King type images. Otherwise, and influenced by ubiquitous images of crucifixion and pietà, Jesus gets associated almost more with death than life. Indeed, what regularly functions as the Christ asteroid, namely Christa (traditionally most asteroids have been registered in feminine form), is found conjunct Requiem in the death house in the sign of the mother, Cancer – clearly a signature for the widespread pietà and Stabat Mater images! Despite this and suggestively, the asteroid Spirit does conjunct Christa possibly reflecting traditions like that of Gioacchino da Fiore who looked towards a Christian age of the Spirit.
I subscribe and for empirical reasons to the view that in their highest octaves the three outer “generational” and “spiritual” planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) symbolize the persons of the Trinity in any strictly religious frame of reference with Pluto symbol of the Creator/Father. Suitably for a Catholic nation, Pluto in the religion house stands in one sense for God. And since Pluto is also Italy’s chart ruler (because Scorpio rises) God rules or at least haunts the people’s mind as ultimate Plutonic power or fate. But Pluto does not connect with Theotes, rather it’s conjunct two asteroids, Fantasia and Aristoteles (though that is meaningful as I will indicate). In similar non-connection, neither Jesus nor even Maria feature as notable figures in terms of actual salvation – asteroid Salavat (Ar. Salvation) at 4 Leo is unrelated whether to Jesus or Mary and is in stress square to the national moon. Relations with God are liable to be left to the mystics; and given Amor in the fifth of love affairs in aspect to the Plutonic deity symbol, this love can finish unusually sensuous as in the case of Blessed John of Verna who kept kissing and being kissed by Jesus or Angela of Foligno whom the Holy Spirit assured her she was more sweet to him than any in the vale of Spoleto!
Harmonious with the bureaucratized nature of Italy, the intercessor figure tends to be one to whom one takes petitions rather than relates more spiritually. Despite the suggestively spiritual Logos conjunct the verbalizing national sun, Italians are more a people of the image (Imago) than the book. Religious cultures of the book are more inclined to approach faith in terms of paradox and the interaction of persons and minds following narrative account of salvation history. Noticeably, one of the two bible asteroids Biblioran (Old Testament) from 19 Sagittarius opposes the national sun and Logos.
If today the saints still assume importance and are even what the national religion is largely about, it is not simply because they are the natural extension of a traditional Marian devotion. It’s rather more because common images of God render their involvement almost imperative. With God conjunct Fantasia, deity can receive some of that fantasia highlighted by Hooper. There can be all manner of popular speculation on the character of the divine; however and more officially, the image of deity remains essentially that of Dante via Aristotle, i.e. the Unmoved Mover with which the Paradiso ends. Dante’s God is “love”, but with it he scarcely any prophetic, biblical or paternal deity to oversee or interact with history or know “every sparrow that falls”. That’s more for his servants the saints! And Dante’s souls, saintly or otherwise, are such free agents it is effectively they, not God, who choose, and very largely work out, their own salvation, without any suggestion of Pauline predestination involved. Ironically it’s the classicist Petrarch who is in some respects more Christian than Dante, God being addressed by him as Father.
There is so much material to detail and interpret where Italy’s chart is concerned that one must leave it incomplete; but it is appropriate to do so where Dante leaves the Paradiso, with a declaration before ultimate mystery and pointing to the stars. Except that in this instance we could cite the biblical statement. “The night skies utter knowledge” (Ps 19:2). It has never been very clear what this means, but while scientists and even religious authorities unite for their different reasons to dismiss astrology as any proper study, I suggest that especially the new micro-astrology of asteroids brings us nearer to understanding what night skies uttering knowledge is likely to mean.
A net article recently caused me to recall something long forgotten, namely that St Patrick and also St Columba are supposed to have forecast the flooding of Ireland before “the last day”. To the extent that geographically Ireland is something of a bowl with its interior bog lands near or below sea level I suppose a great ocean flood was never impossible. (The above picture derives from records of the rather ghastly floods of 2015) . But a wipe out? Does this mark just fantasy or spurious prophecy?
For little more than idle amusement I switched on the 1949 foundation chart for modern Ireland to see if there was anything remotely suggestive of such a fate. I was surprised by what I found using especially the new evidence of name, place and concept asteroids which are found to be unusually descriptive and effective. Might the ancient prophecy be encoded there? In this instance you don’t even need to be an astrologer to appreciate what I saw and form your opinion.
A nation’s destiny and reputation is linked to its tenth house. In Ireland’s tenth sector sits Neptune, planetary symbol of any floods. This Neptune is then conjuncted by the asteroid Fini (French for finite and finished) and Fini is meaningful. It was for example definitely involved in the sudden unexpected retirement of Pope Benedict.
I then observe Neptune and Fini exist in tense axis opposition to the asteroid Flood. This in turn is in exact degree aspect to Oceana (ocean flood?). Perhaps more significantly Flood is closely conjunct asteroid Atropos. Though astrologers don’t often speak of it, it’s generally accepted nowadays that Atropos is much involved in highly fated events and death patterns. And then the Flood/Atropos combo is in exact so-called stress square to the drowning asteroid, Ophelia, itself in a water sign (Cancer) in Eire’s death house.
The fourth sector in which Flood/Atropos are placed represents the nation’s land and territory. Also its weather conditions and any places of ending like graves. The cusp of this house is exactly conjuncted by Patrice. There is no Patrick or St Patrick asteroid but Patrice is French for Patrick. So might this encode Patrick speaking for the nation’s endings?
WHAT WAS THE SAINT THINKING AND WHAT SHOULD WE?
If Patrick ever made the forecast attributed to him, we may well ask what he meant about an event seven years before “the last day” and with a disaster deemed a favour. It looks like his scribes or those who remembered him had insufficient knowledge of “the last things”.
It looks as though Patrick believed Ireland would disappear before the so-called Tribulation or Revelation’s seven year rule of the Antichrist which itself is not, strictly speaking, followed by “the end of the world”. It would simply be the end of the era. Christ’s advent destroys the rule of the Antichrist and inaugurates a millennial rule through Israel. It signals neither the end of the world nor the Last Judgement, only the end of the world as people at the time would know it and a judgement of nations only – if such occurred within our times plainly it would correspond astrologically to the end of the age of Pisces which Christ’s birth introduced.
St Patrick evidently thought if Ireland drowned (and tsunamis would involve almost instant death as flood walls hit) that this was a deliverance of sorts from the pains of the Tribulation period with its temptations to take the damning “Mark of the Beast”. The fact that the mentioned Patrice makes exact tension square to Achristou, an asteroid I’ve long found associated with Satanism and Antichrist themes, could just encode such a train of thought.
NOT TO FORECAST BUT…
No astrologer in their right mind would or should forecast such extreme events as the Patrick prophecy envisages. The most they might affirm is that various time periods exist that held potential for heightened danger.
However….for those who crave a frisson and would wish to relate the whole idea to our times, one could state this much. The late Catholic Seeress, Jeane Dixon, celebrated especially for forecasting JFK’s death, claimed to have had vision of the birth of the Antichrist – she even maintained the entire purpose of her life and gifts was to receive especially that vision. Undeniably the birth pattern for the time was both unusual and suggestive.
If Dixon wasn’t deluded and the person of her visions happens to exist, then I would be confident he must greatly advance and almost certainly appear before the world in late 2017 or early 2018. If not then, never, since there would be lesser opportunity before he was too old to make sufficient, persuasive impact. But the same kind of eclipses and transits that favour Dixon’s false prophet – one of them hits on Ireland’s Saturn – bespeak some difficulty for Ireland. Difficulty and stress, certainly, but that’s not the same as saying certain wipe out!
I am thus not prepared to forecast that 2017/2018 marks Ireland’s final rendez-vous with destiny, but having said that I retain the suspicion that the Patrick forecast could actually be encoded for Ireland and manifest some day.
[ This article was proposed to a couple of leading Irish papers earlier this year when I was visiting Ireland. Both refused. I believe this belongs to the rabid, dismissive secularism of the new Irish elite which has no time for even just mysteries ; also a kind of parochialism which no longer considers the Irish diaspora has any use or meaning and can be safely ignored ]
Unlike a lot that swirls around the Bard, the latest Shakespeare news is true and I can confirm the theory of a Shakespeare skull theft including that a certain Frank Chambers did offer bounty to grave robbers in 1794 to do the deed.
A programme broadcast in UK on Channel 4 on 26th March (but only recently played here on Australia’s SBS), prompted me to check out the mystery and I find it all astonishingly fits. Radar has discovered disturbance near the head area of the remains of Shakespeare and at a level of three feet, the depth reported in a long dismissed seemingly gothic tale in Argosy magazine of 1879 concerning a tomb raid on the head.
I have long claimed that the Stratford Shakespeare was the true Shakespeare and that I had the true working birth chart of the Bard (11.20 am on April 23rd 1564 with 19 degrees of theatrical Leo rising). I did so long before using techniques of the new astrology that embraces such as name asteroids. These bespeak an intelligent universe for the accuracy of data they provide and which in this case includes the name Chambers.
But let’s start conventionally with planets and houses. It was one of several signs that originally assured me I was on the right track of the birth that Uranus of the odd, eccentric and surprising would be in religions sign Sagittarius in the fourth house of the last resting place. This looked to cover the notorious oddness of the blessing and curse Shakespeare placed on his grave with regard to the moving of his bones. I didn’t bother to go into the matter more than that. However….
The sign on the 4th house cusp of the grave place is not Sagittarius but Scorpio of the mysteries. Scorpio’s ruler is Pluto and it falls in the Bard’s eighth house – the death and secrets sector ( an eclipse had fallen in that sector conjunct its Pluto prior to the March broadcast, a promise of secrets to be unlocked). In that sector Pluto is in Pisces whose own ruler is Neptune…..a Neptune which for Shakespeare is degree exact opposite that eccentric grave-indicating Uranus in Sagittarius. And Neptune rules any disappearances. So would something disappear from that grave? Obviously with Scorpio, Pluto and the eighth involved the matter would be well shrouded in the very thick of mystery, but the chances for theft and disappearance would be distinctly increased.
SHAKESPEARE DATA FROM THE INTELLIGENT UNIVERSE
When dealing with asteroids you have to assume the universe is intelligent and that at some level all languages are one and that God is not an Englishman. There is no asteroid for head but there is one for Kopf or Kopff (German for head). Kopf is at 17 Virgo in the Bard’s house of money and possessions The long dismissed story about Chambers is that through the encouragement of bounty he was able to encourage grave robbers to enter the grave in Stratford’s Holy Trinity church and himself later tried to sell the head for the equivalent of 300 pounds though it seems there were problems and an attempt to return the head. Whatever, Kopf in the possessions sector and opposite the natal Pluto at 15 helps with cover-up if not with finances.
That Chambers is the natural culprit is shown by the way that at almost 3 degrees of Cancer his name is making easy fortunate trine to Shakespeare’s grave place cusp which is at 3 of Scorpio. Chambers can get away with it. The sheer improbability of the precise connection I turn up has to be relevant. Chambers himself does not conjunct a truth asteroid, he was obviously a cheat, but he does aspect one – the truth about him can be known.
The theft occurred in 1794. Suitably this was the year that slow Neptune which rules any disappearances was transiting in the early degrees of Scorpio which means affecting the sensitive 3 degree cusp of the grave place. There is no need to imagine the skull was detached at the time of burial as some would have it, the grave was disturbed in 1794.
A BROADCAST WELL TIMED FOR THE TRUTH
The timing of the broadcast on the new discoveries (26th March this year at 8 pm in London) in itself points to something of real significance being finally revealed.
The timer of events, the moon, at 12 degrees of Scorpio (i.e. passing within the chart’s grave zone) was challengingly opposite the bard’s sun at 12 Taurus. Viewers are faced with secrets and mysteries about him and death.
Highlighting the subject, transiting Mars was exact to the degree on Shakespeare’s odd Uranus in Sagittarius that defines his burial place and which had been acted upon (Mars) probed, half entered if only by radar.
Transiting Jupiter….the register of truth in any issue….was at 16 Virgo conjunct Kopff and thus opposite the natal Pluto in the death house, while opener of secrets Pluto was itself at 17 Capricorn perfectly trine the 17 degree natal Kopff. Don’t doubt the truth was given.
In stress square aspect to Jupiter but in perfect trine to Shakespeare’s Mercury (itself in Aries, sign of the head) Saturn was in Sagittarius at 16 degrees. This has implications for the solving of a long-term (Saturnian) mystery but probably also that the trail and the truth of the matter cannot proceed much further than this. Saturn so often ends things and though we can always hope, I suspect we won’t get beyond Chambers to what happened next and where. Or not for another long time.
The desideratum in this case would now be an asteroid aspecting Kopf and with the name of a town or region. I can at least affirm that won’t be London. It falls in Shakespeare’s sixth of work, appropriately so since it’s where he would labour and make his name. And actually his Shakespeare name, rather unusually for a notable person, is in the same work sector from where, especially since it ‘afflicts” his Midheaven angle covering reputation, strongly suggests he really didn’t want or greatly like his association with theatre. He simply used his work to become the major Stratford landowner he successfully aspired to become.
Shakespeare lies buried in a Protestant church. Was he a Catholic? In sympathy I should say yes, including because Vaticana is in direct aspect to his Jupiter (any religious beliefs). However asteroid Roman, if that can cover Roman Catholic, like the Shakespeare name it conjuncts (Shakespeare 4, and Roman 3 of Aquarius), oddly afflicts his career/reputation Midheaven (as well as his family and endings house, the 3 Taurus, 3 Scorpio axis). This suggests he could find the Catholic association inconvenient to his career so that pragmatically he changed it at some point. Uranus in Sagittarius would itself assist any breaks and ruptures in the sphere of religion and beliefs during he course of a life.
Had Shakespeare ever been abroad especially to Catholic Italy, the land in which so many of his plays are set? Italia is in his career house in close aspect to his writer’s Mercury which, as the latter is in the house of anything foreign and distant,the ninth, major travel is quite likely, though it might be only that he met a lot of Italians in London and read a lot of foreign material, but all things considered I think it’s likely he travelled at some point.
Reverting to the mystery of the skull theft, we can only finish by saying that Mercury is the planetary symbol not just of communications and communicators but of any thieves. The fact that Shakespeare’s rapid, no blots writing which owes something to Mercury in Aries is in precisely Aries, sign of the head, always made it rather more likely that not just his pen but his head would prove commercial to some people. And of course he had written hauntingly of skulls “poor Yorick etc.
GREATER MYSTERIES AND INCONVENIENT TRUTHS….
I am not a Shakespeare scholar but the data and insights I have on the world’s greatest dramatist are minor against the spectacular range of information I have about Christ whose birth data I have long possessed in radical development of one particular line of expert inquiry launched a few decades ago by two noted astronomers.
I am permitted to be bemused if not irritated that the discoveries about Shakespeare, important though they undeniably are, manage to get past Channel 4 when the much more detailed and exciting information I have so long held about Christ could never get through the door there despite my qualifications as writer, doctor of religious studies and astrologer. (True there are plenty of others to blame like the Church Times who unforgettably waived me away with “We know all there is to know about Jesus, we don’t need to know about the Magi”). Years ago a documentary film company advised me to speed things by going first through the head of religion at Channel 4. Despite the recommendation I was never able to get so much as an email or one moment of phone time out of the person concerned despite promises his secretary made to me. So often one is up against the merely busy dismissiveness of too many people in media. I suffered it recently from someone organizing religion for the ABC here in Australia. “I’m sorry, I’m too busy to discuss this”. Period. In short “no room at the inn” and don’t come back either.
Next month I reckon to launch an updated version to Amazon of my book on these findings which controversially has never been published despite an editor of a leading house describing the material as “groundbreaking, fascinating and publishable” So why wasn’t it published? Answers please, although in this case I believe I know why.
There are reasons for the current decline in the popular standing of Christianity. Some of them, like the shocking modern record of priestly paedophilia are reasonable, others less so; for if the church is not innocent neither is the world. But amid the pattern of shifting sympathies we have to recognize a growing impatience with Christian intransigence on some issues that have become more vital today than previously.
Why, people wonder, and especially when America’s churches have long supported separation of church and state, should recent years have shown quite the level of outraged, conservative legal opposition to gay rights and abortion that has been evinced? If churches had been generous to the welfare of an often bullied, discrimination-ridden gay minority, would LGBT rights ever have become the self-righteously protested demand they now are? If churches had been less ready to criminalize or excommunicate traumatized, raped women or those whose lives were in danger, would “a woman’s right to choose” have become quite the secular feminist issue it now is? And whatever one’s convictions, shouldn’t there have been more latitude towards especially those not church affiliated? So what too often looks like an inflexible, political boss church (now sometimes protesting it is martyred because its beliefs are no longer protected) has itself partly to blame for a worsening PR situation.
But….. today a new kind of intransigence looks set to spark further alienation and confusion. And this time the quarrel is more fundamentally around faith and its rights and with unavoidable implications for personal rights and free speech in society more generally. This time the subject, even if a materialistic world ignores it, is “salvation” – who has or will have it.
TALK OF SALVATION CENSORED
We shall be hearing increasingly about this subject because, even if and when the theme is ignored by secular society, the related question of free speech can’t be so but rather affects everything. So we can’t afford to get this wrong. There is increasing pressure in the once Christian West from Russia especially but even England, to prevent Christians from witnessing to their faith – in almost any way. Don’t wear a cross, don’t offer to pray for patients, don’t invite people to church (short of government permission in Russia), don’t hand out literature lest anything from people’s multicultural to their Muslim to their gay or their feminist feelings be offended. And so on. In America a sheriff has recently had to hand over 41K to atheists for the misdemeanour of promoting Christianity on a department Facebook page though apparently some of the posts were as innocent as “living today is best done with a lot of prayer”. Recently an American duty marine was court marshalled for not removing from a work cubicle a verse from the bible that didn’t even mention God or Christ! There’s a relentless slide towards silencing. (Some months ago it prompted a poem from me https://goo.gl/VmUPtA )
This is a controversial situation of some real gravity. Democracy and liberal society ultimately depend upon free speech. This is why for the greater good it may be preferable that a few sensitivities be hurt than that society and the laws indulge the merely offended through whose actions freedom of speech can be gradually eroded in favour of thought police and rigid PC values.
The rights of faith or belief must be respected. To the extent they reach into matters of conscience that everywhere feeds the most basic sentiments of freedom and independence, they should enjoy some special, careful protection if need be before what is closer to what’s inconvenient or hurtful to the feelings of minorities (which is not to say the latter are unimportant). It’s not good enough, it’s even shocking, that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has advised Christians not to speak about their faith now unless asked. Nothing could be further from NT counsels to preach the gospel to the whole world (it’s Christ’s own last commission Matt 28:19) and even to “proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or not” (2 Tim 4:2) and right now is not any favourable time.
PERSONS AND IDEAS DIFFICULT TO DEFEND
That said, plainly there are believers who would defend a right to something like “insistence” from attitudes and belief positions so extreme it helps bring the entire matter into disrepute. Although a distinct minority, there is a kind of uncompromising, aggressive evangelist, professional or lay, who on supposedly biblical grounds more or less sends to perdition anyone who resists their message. Just as free speech would not be best defended by appealing the rights of flat earthers to be heard in prime time, it would be better if protection of religious rights not have to expend too much energy defending the most absolute expressions of doom, gloom and damnation. But just what is the argument around “salvation”, one that threatens to increase as multiculturalism and the global village expand?
It is now trendy, liberal and many would maintain only good-neighbourly “inclusive”, to maintain universalist views with regard to belief. All religions are deemed essentially equal and the same: we all worship the same all-loving God (even if the Buddha denied the existence of any God/Creator and nowhere does the Koran assert that God is love) and everyone, unless the very worst, are heaven bound by default (although all religions have always had some version of Hell/Hades). We may call this (or at least its new pop version) the Rob Bell view of religion – its case is argued for by that ex-evangelical in his bestselling Love Wins favoured by the New Ager Oprah Winfrey. The doctrine can sound generous and intend well except that it now threatens to make an excluded enemy of dissenting voices.
Against this and as its polar opposite is pitched a conservative and would-be biblical position to the effect that only those who believe in Jesus can make it to heaven and escape the hell fires and this because Jesus died not as early Christians maintained principally to ransom us from Satan and the powers of evil, but primarily to satisfy the wrath of his Father’s offended honour (an emphasis deriving from the twelfth century St Anselm).
This would seem like bad news for vast populations of humankind who have never even heard of Jesus and plain distressing to converts who are invited to believe they will never see or know their forebears again unless perhaps glimpsed through the flames of hell. We can call this the Choo Thomas view of salvation after a Korean-American woman visionary’s claims in her bestselling Heaven is so Real. Her love of Jesus was so intense and her heaven so real and experienced over a series of improbably frequent trips there with Jesus, that she was somehow able to come to terms with being shown her mother, a good woman who didn’t know about Jesus, screaming in torment……
DOES CHRISTIANITY HAVE ANY MIDDLE PATH ON “SALVATION”?
…….Something has to be wrong here, wrong with both parties in almost any way academically, theologically, spiritually, humanly. Putting my theologian’s cap on for a moment, what would I say?
Undeniably the second, conservative position has some scriptural basis as in the above quote from Acts, and certainly Jesus took perdition seriously – there are more references by him to hell than to heaven. The gospel is supposed to be preached in order to help save people from death and the damnation which in Jesus’ times, in the form of a dark and hopeless Hades, was more or less the default post-mortem destination even among pagans. (Elysian fields were reserved for the favoured few). Just because Jesus taught radical love and forgiveness it is absurd of the present Pope to maintain as in his recentThe Joy of Love (understandably being criticized by leading Catholics), that damnation is not even in “the logic” of the Gospel. It surely is and backed up by all sorts of dire warnings like the famous “what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his own soul?”.
Even so, no reasonable or feeling person will readily accept the alternative to universalism, namely that almost everyone is doomed and damned and even like Choo’s mother in and for their ignorance amid the accidents of their birth in historical and cultural terms.
The astonishing thing is that even those most fundamentalistically attached to what “God’s Word” has to say, don’t really absorb what it does say, seemingly incapable of taking any hint and making even and especially any common sense deductions from the text. At least three New Testament statements invite us to understand there is something like a middle path between the two mutually exclusive options. The three I would cite (I could cite more) all derive from Christianity’s St Paul, himself the first and most fervent missionary of the faith who insisted he would do anything and go anywhere to save souls even exclaiming “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor 9:16).
DAMNATION NOT SO ABSOLUTE
First and in the sermon at Athens the apostle declares: While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he calls all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).
With this statement alone (which follows upon a quote from a pagan poet to the effect we are all God’s offspring and live and move and have our being in God), we are given some hint that up to a point ignorance does excuse. The drama of salvation begins once Christ and redemption are actually proclaimed. This moreover seems consistent with the fact Jesus’ strongest warnings as in John’s gospel about unbelief and dying in one’s sins etc are addressed in the first instance to those with whom he had direct dealings like hostile religious leaders.
Second, although Christ may not be known, conscience always is.
When Gentiles who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these though not having the law, are a low to themselves. They show that the law is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when according to my gospel, God through Jesus Christ will judge the secret thoughts of all.
At least some people are thus self-excused before God and in some fashion via Law/Conscience. (By “Law” the apostle must mean the Ten Commandments or the general sense of the Law since pagans couldn’t be expected to intuit things like why not to ingest shell fish and many regulations that Jesus himself had already discarded for the new message and era!). The nearest gospel parallel to this position would be in the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matt 25 where the sheep (often interpreted as being nations rather than individuals) discover they have been serving Christ without knowing it through what is effectively conscience. Obviously however individuals would be less likely and would find it harder to follow true conscience where the gospel had not been preached as intended. (Supposing you had been born into a tribe of spirit worshipping head hunters!)
Third, there was the early Christian custom of baptism for the dead. (1Cor 15:29) mentioned in the course of Paul’s disquisition on the resurrection and the necessity of belief in it.
If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?
This is a verse either much ignored or disputed though it should be obvious enough what it is about. New converts didn’t want to think their forebears were automatically lost to them and to God; so they claimed them, baptizing by proxy and St Paul doesn’t object to the custom. This is very different to the situation where, as often happened in missionary zones in the great Victorian era of expansion, converts were made to reject, or feel they had abandoned, everything and everyone that had gone before them. Instead, early Christians’ allegiance didn’t damn their entire past but could even hope instead to redeem it. (I suggest that Choo Thomas for her understanding about her mother and much else was deluded, even a species of false prophet).
While we can’t now know exactly what was practiced and understood as regards the Corinthian baptism, it surely belongs with the spirit of one of the stranger and often ill translated of Jesus’ statements, one which seems to imply that up to a point it would be possible to “claim” persons for heaven itself (assuming they weren’t rank unrepentant sinners). The point is made in Luk 16:9 cited here in the NLT translation which seems to have the right sense.
“Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly money to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home”.
No reference here to the merit, faith, repentance, being born from above or born again etc that the gospels would have us believe Jesus taught as vital items of truth and salvation.
TRUTH IN PARADOX
As in much else in the New Testament and writings of St Paul, the truth about “salvation” resides somewhere in a paradox. In this instance the paradox is that even though true redemption is from Christ alone and that at death many are at real risk of separation from God (the real meaning of the “wrath| of God) due to sin or unbelief, this does not mean that divine judgement is so completely arbitrary or formula bound that it cannot make independent decision, especially in the case of genuine ignorance of what should be believed and done in life.
To deny this possibility is to deny that God can read the heart as St Paul affirms or to dismiss Abraham’s rhetorical question “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”. God must be free to make decisions even though in turn mortals would be unwise to presume on divine mercy. (Attitudes like “if I’m good enough it’ll be OK” or “to err is human, to forgive is divine” aren’t truly spiritual where judgement of a whole life and souls are concerned!).
A BOTH/AND READING OF AN IGNORED GOSPEL
All this and more should be clear enough, but the Bible is insufficiently studied today; or rather is so academically studied it is almost high jacked over issues like the dating and authorship of its various parts while it is inadequately appreciated on a more readerly level as Wisdom literature. The latter approach would absorb the many paradoxes which shouldn’t be lightly dismissed rationalist style as “contradictions” on an either/or basis but rather as information often given on a both/and basis.
But if the bible is insufficiently or improperly read today, likewise the gospel, originally described as “the power of God to salvation ( Rom 1:16) is rarely preached. Increasingly it is said even by Popes to be about “compassion”, social justice and “mercy” (which of course it is), but any honest reading must conclude it is primarily about repentance and right belief addressed to what Jesus would call (and would certainly today call) “an evil and adulterous generation”.
Belief as the driver of attitudes and actions always matters, always has concrete effects. The average universalist doesn’t understand this, not even today as regards, for example, the effects of Islam’s promise of certain paradise solely for those who are martyrs in jihad, (a strong motivation for some to be radicalized and reckless!).
All faiths make entry to their heaven dependent upon merit earned except Christianity which makes it free to the believer with only the degree of reward dependent upon merit. Yet today it could finish an offence if not crime against PC multiculturalism for Christians to point out to non believers that their faith is based on “amazing grace” and not effects of karma, yoga practices, devotion to jihad etc. But such is now virtually the situation. Statements of even true and obvious fact must hide themselves. In the global village that long ago the Roman Empire also appeared to be, its own version of multiculturalism was seen by early Christians as a providential opportunity to proclaim. Today’s global village is seen as mandating, when not outright silence, at most the easy option of “dialogue”, as opposed to proclamation lest anyone be hurt in the exercise of compare and contrast.
I am not a Catholic, but those Catholics who declare Pope Francis a heretic are essentially correct when he declares proselytization “the worst thing of all”. Really? Practically, not just religiously, this is nonsense because where free speech disfavours the frank declaration it is short sighted to imagine society will allow even “dialogue” for long. Dialogue doesn’t even exist in Muslim majority nations today from Afghanistan to Turkey and it has never really been tolerated. In Pakistan Christian woman Asia Bibi has been imprisoned on death row for years now for the “blasphemy” of defending her faith against the abuse of Muslim women who refused her water at a well. Re the notorious Bibi case see https://goo.gl/Xsf3cc
Pope Benedict properly appealed for Bibi’s release….as our politicians should be doing, as the people of London who voted in a Pakistani supposedly a defender of human rights should be doing. But Pope Francis is is not known to have intervened or protested, simply looking on in appalled silence at the testimony of Bibi’s relatives to their anguish. Beyond periodic lament for martyred Christians, the Pope’s vision cannot reach to the challenge of dealing with a widespread Islamic intransigence in persecution that the secular West as a whole prefers to ignore …..at the same time as it bends over backwards to accommodate Muslim rights and sensitivities otherwise and to accuse any critics of Islam of “Islamophobia”. (Currently there is even talk in California of introducing a Muslim appreciation month). The Pope persists in speaking of “our Muslim brethren” and their religion of peace as though no fundamental problem existed or as though Muslims of the Ahmadiyya branch of Islam were the only true kind. (This often persecuted Islamic minority deemed heretical refuses violence and doesn’t believe Mohammed was their faith’s final prophet) .
Last year the complaint of a British Muslim women had a colleague dismissed from the workplace for the “bullying” crime of describing her faith and inviting someone she supposed to be her friend to a church. To undermine a Christian right to declare beliefs is a fundamental and disturbing new denial of all personal rights and freedom of speech, one which will eventually hurt even those secularists who for the meantime might be pleased to silence a few nuisance believers. (Actually secular humanists are becoming concerned they may not be free to criticize Islam as they would wish).
BELIEF WILL ALWAYS MATTER
And so the trendy heaven-for-all universalism threatens to become servant of a new and uncontrolled PC censorship. As a doctrine it has no basis in any known faith but is a development of Enlightenment Deism and optimistic, mainly free church generalizations upon Christian notions of love and mercy that New Ageism has made its own. It creates as many problems as it solves because it begs the question should such as of the serial killer, the child abuser or a Hitler go unpunished, and can and would God permit sin, especially unrepented, into where it could only corrupt? (According to popular Conversations with God author, Neale Donald Walsh, Hitler is in heaven because there’s nowhere else to go!). Can we really imagine Hitler rejoicing in heaven and would we really want it? And if sin and its effects cannot be self-cured, change must depend upon grace, which means it also depends upon faith which means it requires some measure of right belief.
And right belief according to Jesus is not the cop out or irrelevance some imagine, but rather the work we should do (Joh 6:29), something we grow into. Believing is itself something people do. This is why there is no automatic or total, faith versus works contradiction between the gospel declarations about the importance of faith and the fact that at the Last Judgement (which applies to all peoples of all ages and backgrounds) they are judged by what they have done. (Rev 20:13).
Even if we take this more “middle path” position regarding salvation, for the modern reader of the biblical texts other questions of a purely theological nature still impinge . It can be questioned why if hell exists as the alternative to heaven should it be eternal, forever punishing “merely” finite transgressions? One answer and a short one could be that hell exists like heaven outside time in an eternal present. But such questions are beyond present scope and even relevance – ( I broach difficult themes of the kind in some of my writings like The Great Circle: Asia, David and God Consciousness.( https://goo.gl/oI543k) but most would agree those laying stress on what used to be called “the last things” and wanting an assured public hearing should give more a bit more thought to the underlying rationale of the claims they make.
But wherever you believe souls are bound, if you believe souls exist….. one certainty is that the largely post-Christian materialistic West is in terrible trouble. It believes so little on the spiritual plane that it risks accepting almost anything or being imposed upon by almost anyone. Ironically, what to some may seem an irrelevant concern with an outdated concept – “salvation” – is set to be crucial to how society will manage freedom more generally. Salvation entails a promise of freedom. Correctly and sanely guarding the concept is an important guarantee of ongoing freedom at more than one level.
I admit to have felt stumped as regards predictions, or even just seeing sufficient synchronicities in the face of what is going on around Jupiter, the “fireworks” currently issuing from it and the arrival of the Juno probe giving unprecedented new insights into the nature of the planet.
Last blog I listed nine reasons why even the well known Billy Graham is wrong, as most believers from evangelicals to Catholics usually are, about “horoscopes” (i.e. astrology). It is in any case also the fact that I have long claimed not only to know when Jesus was born but to have data so accurate that it still works to this day as regards Jesus issues.
Even so I admit I had no idea what might be forecast this time, or even in this instance if anyone should be looking for a relevant Jesus event that corresponded to unusual visible as opposed to just transit activity around Jupiter at this time.
Jupiter is the planet of religion, faith, belief, hope and grace and like many, but for rather more reasons, I have long claimed Jupiter is the star of Bethlehem itself. And as I write (July 16th here in Australia) Jupiter by transit is within a degree to exact conjunction with the birth sun of Jesus –it’s exact next week. With or without things to see, by rights something very Jupiterian should occur around Jesus. But what?
I hadn’t been aware until today what that might be when I derived some information from the same Christian Post that carried the Graham article earlier this month, namely that during this last week, over this weekend especially and next week there is the Together 2016 event or Just Jesus rallies.
The major weekend event aims to draw around a million to the Washington DC region – the hope is that this will be the single largest gathering in American history in service of “revival”. The idea is a general exaltation of Jesus with worship and prayers for revival everywhere but especially in America. Washington would seem like the fated global site for such an event since the Washington asteroid (Washingtonia) is within a degree of conjunction with Jesus’ natal sun!
Jupiter is inclusive so most denominations are joining in and represented – even the Pope has been engaged to pray. The plan has been in preparation for the last ten years and more seriously for the last four. The emphasis hardly seems very Trinitarian and arguably the world and “revival|” might need more emphasis upon creation and the almost forgotten or ignored Creator/Father. Still, the Jesus emphasis is harmonious with specifically a Jupiter event. Jupiter is involved very much with Jesus as Messiah
With restrictive Saturn currently transiting in Sagittarius, (the sign of all and any organized religion), contrary anti-revival news is not surprising and it challenges all the Jupiter linked event aims at. One thinks for example of the draconian laws signed in by Putin of Russia this last week which forbid any talk of religion without state permission and even private home worship rendered dangerous for all except Russian Orthodox. Then there is nowadays the endless tale of horrors in the persecution of Christians everywhere from Pakistan to North Korea which the secular post-Christian West, more concerned with subjects like transgender rights, cruelly and inexcusably ignores.
So…songs and prayers for “revival” in the secular world are not meaningless though perhaps against persecution might be still more meaningful at the present moment!
One day, (even I hesitate to say when, though I do have my ideas), what I have to say about the Bethlehem Star will be known and heard as it needs and deserves to be for the general good. Last Christmas season critics were almost falling over themselves about the publication of James Nicholl’s The Great Christ Comet: Revealing the Bethlehem Star. As an evangelical automatically opposed to astrology, one influential religion writer was even “in awe” of the thesis, which however doesn’t arrive at the truth or only a small portion of a vastly more awesome and clearly demonstrable range of facts. But like love the path of real Truth ne’er ran smooth and “no room at the inn” from those who should be concerned and promoting is perhaps only to be expected.
For interest I will paste in conclusion from a note I am placing at the end of the pages of planet, asteroid and Parts lists in my study a new edition of which will be released later this year.
NOTE: THE GREAT CHRIST COMET
Though I do not believe that by itself any comet was or can be a guide to the exact day or time of Jesus’ birth, I have included in the above list the positions according to Astrodienst for biblical scholar Colin Nicholl’s theorized “Great Christ Comet”. (Colin R Nicholl, The Great Christ Comet: Revealing the True Star of Bethlehem, Wheaton: Crossway, 2015). Though there’s no written record of it apparently the comet existed and the fact that at the birth this celestial phenomenon was conjunct Christ’s destiny Midheaven (and even at his Leavetaking conjunct the degree of the Bethlehem Star), confirms my immediate initial suspicion that what is described had something broadly to do with the messianic times and seasons surrounding the nativity, but not more. Accordingly I do not at all accept that any signs related to Christ’s birth date would be, as Nicholl speculates but cannot prove, involved with the celestial pattern – surely intended to be prophetic rather than historic! – of the woman clothed with the sun in Revelation 12. It is worth noting that the hype attaching to publication of the book and its theory was almost wholly due to its theological and scientific face-saving reliance on astronomy as opposed to astrology, objections to which repeatedly prevent the truth from being known and declared.
9 REASONS BILLY GRAHAM IS WRONG ABOUT “HOROSCOPES”
A recent article in The Christian Post (June 8th) had the now elderly Billy Graham (or perhaps it was his staff or his son Franklin) declaring God to be opposed to “horoscopes” (i.e. astrology). Here are 9 reasons why the Bible, still less God, is not opposed to the subject.
1) According to Billy Graham who regards “horoscopes” as a mystical/magical proceedure belonging with the forbidden “divination” of Deut 18:10, for Christians to seek guidance from astrologers is akin to King Saul visiting the witch of Endor. However, if that understanding of the matter were valid, astrology would never feature so strongly in the Jewish Talmud, nor would the highly observant Essenes have sought signs of the Messiah in the heavens.
2) Astrology as we know it from especially the Greeks is not “divination”. It did not even exist in the times of the Old Testament and its prophets who do condemn forecasting from new moons. The latter however refers to what is called “omen astrology” which involved gazing at the sky and uttering oracles. “Divination” is precisely what depends upon chance (as in reading tea leaves of shuffling cards), and/or just intuition with perhaps assistance from familiar spirits.
3) Standard astrology is about as occult as reading a train timetable. It is empirical, mathematical and depends chiefly upon a study of cycles of the planets and general symbolism. The kind of events and issues observed to feature under one set of positions are assumed to occur under similar or same positions – it is the principle indicated biblically by Eccl 1:9 that declares what has been will be so that there is nothing (fully) new under the sun but only “a time to be born and die” etc.as in the famous poem of time in Chapter 3..
4) The fact that magi (astrologers) came to Christ’s birth should give Christians pause to consider that astrology might have something to teach and contribute to belief..
5) Billy Graham assumes the stars exist simply to the glory of God. They exist for more. The Bible declares they exist for signs (Gen 14 :1) and Ps 19 maintains that the night skies utter knowledge (Ps 19:2). What speech, what knowledge? Do Christians even bother to ask?
6) The Psalms also maintain that God both names the stars (Ps 147:4) and knows in advance every day of our lives (Ps 139: 16). While the latter statement can be taken by faith, the closest to any objective proof for the idea lies in astrological patterns like diurnals and the various transits of planets across the natal chart which can indicate active and stay-at-home days, excitement and nothing much happening, sometimes a turning point.
7) The previous point bespeaks fate. Evangelicals stubbornly maintain like Graham that if astrology were true there would be no free will. This is misleading and false. There is fate and fate. There are birth patterns which indicate active and prominent lives, others lives more hidden and withdrawn; but within the basic natal outline there are always choices. Attitudes and actions under certain patterns can affect the immediate situation and even the positive or negative experience of subsequent situations. People do not so much go to (or at least don’t obtain from) astrologers the “guidance” such as Graham wants believers go to bible and God for, as simple insight into their character and the nature of events they encounter.
8) Astrology is a symbol system that helps us to read and understand the hidden order of reality – the sort of order that scripture points to. Any doubt that the main impulses and lines of history follow celestial cycles should be dispelled by the work of an academic like Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche (2006). It is lamentable that there are Christians, (like Billy Graham’s daughter Ann Lotz) who presume to speak about “the end times” without even knowing or including such perspectives as the fact we are living at the end of the age (aion) of Pisces, the fishes, to whose beginning the birth of Christ approximately corresponded. Everything from flood and tsunami to fish everywhere dying along coastlines bespeaks the extremes, mostly negative, of the water and seas sign of Pisces arrived in era terms at the equivalent of the last degree of its sign. (The last degrees of any sign are notably extreme and 29 Pisces is traditionally very unfortunate, associated with violence, drowning, suicides and addiction, all the sort of issues presently concerning us).
9) Just as magi came to the birth of the messiah that prophets had foretold, so astrology can and should complement religion, at any rate its more prophetic/charismatic side. Astrology can predict or at least project various situations. The wilder claims of some would-be prophets could be questioned or modified as regards timing and likelihood if astrology were considered and in conclusion I will mention a couple of instances.
Claiming as I exceptionally do to know when Christ was born, I have been able to forecast when Jesus would likely be notably in the news as for example when in 2002 news came from Jerusalem that the so-called James ossuary box with the inscription, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus had been discovered. This if authentic (which it has belatedly been declared to be) would be the only artefact as opposed to text witnessing to Jesus.
I write this on the verge of Britan’s Brexit referendum. Astrologers have been unusually and extremely divided about the final result for reasons I needn’t detail but which suggest a rather neck and neck issue. But apart from the fact astrology can always describe a situation even if and when it cannot precisely predict its outcome, this much is plain. On the standard chart for Britain, among other things a full moon has fallen ahead of the vote conjunct a natal Uranus (rebellion, revolution, separation) opposite the natal Europa asteroid. Just by itself this marks an opposition reflective of Britain’s perennially awkward relation to the continent and even a promise as early as 1066 that there would be a Europe-separative Reformation in religion since the Uranus is in the ninth house not only of the foreign but of any religious issues. The asteroids, not even known or seen back in 1066 or at the birth of Christ, nonetheless prove eloquent today of many things. In some sense all time and language between the stars are one.
Faced with this are we to say as would Evangelicals (or the Catholic catechism which also opposes astrology) that none of what we read in the heavens reflects a divine mind or purpose, is not a case of the night skies uttering knowledge? Evangelicals especially have made a paper Pope of their bible (often the faulty KJV). Frequently read without attention to historical and cultural factors they have used scripture to make knockdown arguments where a range of sensitive issues are concerned, arguments of the kind Franklin Graham (whom many regard as undoing his father’s heritage) increasingly specializes in.
Typically, Graham cites the condemnation of Is. 47:13 as saying “ Let their astrologers stand forth….” A modern translation like the NRSV places a note to indicate it is not certain what the word is, which of course it isn’t certain because astrologers as we know them did not exist for Isaiah to condemn. But the same translation does include, as Graham doesn’t, the vital point that whoever is involved makes forecasts at new moons, which tells us this is not regular astrology which is far from reserving its kind of forecasts to such times.
It would be little short of a needed revolution of spiritual consciousness if the churches could admit elements of astrology to its understanding of existence, its theologies and the character of its leaders – even within the limited realm of sun signism it actually means something for their theology, politics and attitudes to money that Luther was born under Scorpio and Calvin under Cancer (as are Billy and Franklin Graham respectively). However I am not exactly optimistic that notable revolution is going to occur. I have not written to the Billy Graham org to express my radical divergence of view as regards astrology. I know I wouldn’t get an answer. Like American businesses and self-help theories negative responses stand to be ignored, and won’t get past the minders. In fact I know of an astrologer who years ago tried to plead the case of astrology, but never received an acknowledgement from the Graham org. So….that is the point of putting the above thoughts within the humble format of a blog.
Lucifer, the Prince of Air, descends to the lower hells to teach his minions how to launch a great deceit upon a sophisticated but unsuspecting humanity. Elsewhere the foreseeing Archangel Raphael explains and reveals what this will be, but will his warnings be heeded?
RAPHAEL AND LUCIFER and OTHER VISIONARY POEMSis unusual as poetry today and definitely different in its ideas.
A VIDEO recording from WildSound of Part One of the four part Raphael and Lucifer mini-epic is available at this address: https://goo.gl/SkBFL1
(The book’s brief INTRODUCTION is reproduced below).
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING – THE PROMOTION QUESTION
It’s not because Raphael is “just” poetry, and certainly not any kind of “bad” poetry that this published author’s rather ambitious project doesn’t come with the imprimatur of standard publication and promotion. One of the few UK publishers who accepts both religion and poetry today, acknowledged this is poetryto the highest standard; but since I am not known for a performance poet nor am resident in UK for promotion purposes (so vital in publishing today), they couldn’t afford the risk of taking me on.
Actually they suggested a certain Australian publisher might oblige. Of that story perhaps another time, but sufficient to say any religion/poetry combination is seriously hard to get through any hoops anywhere today. Agents don’t normally reckon to represent verse of any sort. Also I am not living in a metropolitan area to be in contact with the club of “right” literary persons and circles – who probably wouldn’t be interested anyway. Years ago a leading Australian poet refused me for Penguin New Poets for presuming to include – despite what they admitted was some superior “Virgilan” writing – “such hopelessly archaic words as ‘conduct’ and ‘bestow'”. …..
With almost everyone and everything to hinder – the reason I abandoned anything poetic as a waste of time for over two decades – all the more reason if you appreciate this project, that in the interests of supporting a wider range for poetry today (not to say freedom of thought more generally) you care sufficiently to “like” it, review it, buy it, share it but essentially do whatever helps spread the word in a world of social media.
RAPHAEL AND LUCIFER: THE INTRODUCTION (REPRODUCED)
All the poems in this collection are to a lesser or greater extent visionary or metaphysical in a way poetry today doesn’t tend to be. Even so, they are still much involved with contemporary issues, persons or feelings. In theme and style however, Raphael and Lucifer stands apart from the rest of the collection as being a mini-epic.
Raphael is a deliberate experiment on two levels. First and obviously it is an exercise in poetic composition, specifically an adaptation, or at least evocation of, the now half lost traditions of epic and the Miltonics of especially Paradise Lost. (Mini-epic looks back to Catullus).
Second, there is an exercise in presenting and representing some often ignored, virtually censored but still developing ideas with regard to human origins. My own views as a doctor of religious studies are more fluid and liberal than those of any true blue creationist would ever be, but broadly I accept notions of theistic creation and ID (intelligent design which last, incidentally, is not the province of specifically Christian thinkers only). Given my bias, I have become increasingly aware how such belief can too easily finish treated in ways which leave meaningful argument, new facts and simple logic out of the picture. The situation can be unhelpful to the cause of truth generally and the spiritual life more particularly (even the question of divine existence and speaking of it in schools may now be involved) and we need to consider this.
Poetry is one medium that has always supported wide and sometimes unusual perspectives on things. Also, from the mythical Orpheus on through the Roman Lucretius and the English Milton and numerous tribal bards around the world, poets have been concerned with the nature of things, the mystery, spectacle and origins of life. Modern poetry has largely abandoned the theme although Ted Hughes stirringly translated Ovid’s curiously biblical evocation of a creation in the celebrated Metamorphoses. In my own case it has been appropriation of the mysteries of existence (and effectively the popularization of unbelief too) by media gurus like David Attenborough and Brian Cox, spurred me towards some poetic reaction.
Though both creationists and evolutionists can be charged with a literalism that insufficiently appreciates Genesis as poetry, it could be objected no one not a scientist, whether evolutionist or creationist, can really enter their arena of contention today with much authority. I disagree. It is well known and notoriously so, that the greater part of the educated public that bought Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time was not able to understand it. The smallest minority of us are qualified scientists (or theologians) but this need not preclude us from drawing a few general conclusions about life and our place in the universe. Sometimes the issues science presents to laypersons invite almost more the application of some logical and philosophical thinking than negotiation of the most rarefied physics and mathematical theory. If Richard Dawkins openly disdains even to reply to dissenters, it is maybe time for dissenters to dismiss the blizzard of scientific data thrown at them in favour of more insistence upon examination of the basic reasoning involved with it.
Apart from the fact – a generalization but not unfair – that the operation of evolution is extrapolated from evidence for examples of micro-evolution not notably demonstrated at the macro level (which instead reveals sudden changes), essentially we are faced with two parties who claim a guiding authority for whatever declarations they make. In one case the authority is the bible and on the other “science” with its methodology. But just as biblical studies can open upon considerable divergences of opinion over sources and the interpretation of texts, so the empirical science which gets packaged for popular consumption makes claims which often conceal the range of speculation, theory and disagreement behind them. It is not unreasonable for example, to stress, as would especially creationists, that there can be quite a gap between “observational” science which treats of data reliant on tests that can be repeated, and “historical” science which offers data not directly testable and observable.
Since moreover even evolutionists are compelled to concede the limits to any account of origins via natural selection and genetic mutation alone, practically much of the argument beyond the welter of facts boils down to two differing treatments of a time factor. There is the story of a development across a time span necessarily assumed rather than absolutely proved to be almost infinite in order to cover for observed changes in the absence of a Creator to guide them. Then there is the narrative of a more designed creation over a short, or at least shorter, time span by a Creator who wouldn’t need time on an extreme scale for the often statistically improbable accidents and transitions of evolution to arrive at present human life. For both parties so much is involved with just interpretation of their facts and a species of faith that there can never be too much agreement. At most one can hope for the open discussion by no means always in evidence.
We hear much of the prejudices of creationists because they can seem obvious – almost everyone knows at least a little about Genesis which can then be dismissed as mere myth as against recently made scientific discoveries whose authority will go unquestioned. We hear less of the insufficiently examined a prioris, prejudices, even eccentricities of atheist evolutionists. These are well symbolized by the way in which the distinguished Genome Project scientist, Francis Collins, an evangelical but one who nonetheless accepts evolution, is still dismissed as a clown by most fellow scientists simply because their position is effectively that today no one but an atheist can be a true scientist. This is unacceptable and absurd, especially now there are some scientists in the style of Francis Crick, the pioneer in DNA research, prepared to attribute life on earth to extraterrestrials because of the difficulty of letting evolution account for just everything.
No more need be said in introduction. Any further points can be referred to the notes and the postscript since otherwise there is a danger the reader will not open themselves to the spirit of the poem and will approach it with already too many arguments to absorb it for what it is on its own level.