Astrology and Anthroposophy

29 May 2007

Zodiac Signs and Constellations

The chart on the left was cast for 1:40 pm today in Dingle. You can click on image to enlarge it. I am happy that the astrology program that I use, Solar Fire, is able to produce a chart with both signs and constellations. The outer ring shows zodiac constellations and the inner ring shows zodiac signs.

Every time I make a presentation on the stars the question of signs and constellations comes up. There is the impression on the part of the more scientifically minded people that only the constellations are real. They posit that since, in our time, the Sun rises in the constellation of Pisces at the spring equinox, the claim- that the Sun goes into Aries at that time- is untrue. I would like to suggest that both viewpoints are true, just the perspective is different.

Zodiac Constellations are twelve unequal segments along the ecliptic (apparent path of the Sun as viewed from the earth.) The dividing points between the constellations were decided by a scientific convention in the early 1930’s. Once a year, at the spring equinox, the Sun returns to the same point on the ecliptic, but not quite; after 72 years, an average human lifespan, the Sun slips back about 10 in relation to the constellations of the zodiac. This is known as the precession of the equinox. The average size of one constellation is 300 and therefore it would take about 2,160 years (72x30) before the spring Sun rises in the next constellation back. In ancient India the Sun rose in Cancer at the spring equinox, ancient Persia in Gemini, ancient Egypt in Taurus, Greco/Roman times in Aries and now it occurs in Pisces. The amount of time that the Sun takes to traverse all 12 constellations is called a platonic year (2,160x12= 25,920 years)

Zodiac Signs are twelve equal divisions of the stars along the ecliptic or apparent path of the Sun as viewed from the earth. The signs come about through the relationship of the earth and Sun. As you know, the seasons are brought about by the tilt of the earth’s axis and the rotation of the earth around the Sun. For those of us located north of the equator, summer solstice comes about when the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun and the winter solstice when it is tilted away from the Sun. The spring and autumn equinox both occur half way between these two points. One could say that the zodiac signs exist in time rather than in space. The first sign, Aries begins at the spring equinox followed by Taurus and Gemini. Cancer begins at the summer solstice and then you have Leo and Virgo. At the autumnal equinox Libra begins followed by Scorpio and Sagittarius. At the winter solstice Capricorn begins followed by Aquarius and Pisces. Then we are back to spring and to Aries.

Most Western astrologers work with the zodiac signs and in India, where astrology is widely practiced, they use the zodiac constellations. The latter approach is becoming more popular in the West and is known as Vedic Astrology. Anthroposophically extended astrology takes both signs and constellations into consideration. In general you could say that the signs in a birth chart have to do with this life, with the here and now whereas the constellations have to do with the life before birth (the other world.) Another way to express this in anthroposophic terms would be to say that the signs have to do more with the physical and etheric bodies and the constellations with the more spiritual parts, the astral body and the ego (I.)

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19 May 2007

Esoteric Astrology

There is very little information on anthroposophically extended astrology in the English language. However, in German, there is a vast body of knowledge; even on my own bookshelf there are 40 books on the subject. This therefore is a first attempt on my part to make some of this information available to those who have not yet mastered the German language.

There is a little book by Dr. Heinz Herbert Schoeffler Gibt Es Eine Anthroposophische Astrologie? (Is There Such a Thing As Anthroposophical Astrology?) The book has just 47 pages but is packed with information about his topic. Schoeffler points out that, in his early works, Steiner intimated that astrology would not be understood until the long distant future. However, this view changed over his lifetime. In January, 1914 he spoke of how the astrology of the third post-atlantean epoch (Egyptian/Babylonian times) was coming up again and that we would need to study it, taking into consideration the Christ event that occurred in the meantime. Subsequently Steiner wove man’s relationship with the stars into almost every aspect of his work, agriculture, medicine, eurythmy, education, special needs education and so on.

Towards the end of his life, in 1924, Steiner spoke about specific birth charts for the first time in public. This was in the lecture series Education for Special Needs:Curative Education Course. At that time he also formulated the relationship between the various bodies of the human being and the planets as follows:

Spirit Man--------------Neptune

Life Spirit---------------Uranus

Spirit Self --------------Saturn

Consciousness Soul----Jupiter

Intellectual Soul--------Mars

Sentient Soul-----------Venus

Sentient Body----------Mercury

Etheric Body------------Moon

Physical Body-----------Sun

A description of the various bodies mentioned above can be found in Steiner's book Theosophy.

Schoeffler goes on to show how Steiner, over time, touched on just about every consideration of astrology:planets, the ascendant, mid-heaven, zodiac signs and
beneficial and hindering aspects, the whole of Thema Mundi in all its details; but he never spoke of the twelve houses. Schoeffler gives a historical perspective of the houses and then proceeds to draw out of Steiner’s works a description of them. He concludes with the following descriptions:

House Astrology Anthroposophy
1 Own personality Time of birth, physical body, own personality
2 Earnings through own abilities Etheric body, above/below
3 Education, small journeys, siblings Astral body, thinking/feeling/willing
4 House, home, heredity Individuality (ego), opposition, essence of being
5 Children, art, lovers Encounter, threefolding
6 Work, troubles, small animals, acute illnesses Above and below, stars and the earth
7 Personality of partners Reincarnation, warmth, time. Stepping over the threshold.
8 Chronic illness, dying, death, acquisition through marriage. Dying, death, culmination
9 Science, books, publishing, large journeys, in-laws Rising up to the starry world
10 Deeds, profession, position, power, victory. The human being at the highest periphery
11 Friends, social gatherings, house of luck Sojourn in cosmic heights and beginning descent
12 Enemies, prisons, hospitals, physical illness, large animals. Adversity in confinement

In case you are not familiar with Thema mundi: Firmicus Maternus an astrologer and a christian from the fourth century wrote of the Thema Mundi. It is a 'birth chart' for the world with each planet in the 15th degree of the sign that it rules. The origin of Thema mundi goes back to a much earlier time.

Steiner spoke also of the planetary rulerships on 8 January 1918 in the lecture cycle Ancient Myths:" Every constellation of the Zodiac is related to a particular planet and must be regarded as belonging to that planet".

Dr. Heinz Herbert Schoeffler (1921-2003) was born in Leipzig, Germany. He was a medical doctor specializing in pedriatrics and anthroposophically extended medicine. He lectured on anthroposophical medicine and on astrology and wrote several books on these subjects in addition to the one referred to above. He saw it as one of his life’s tasks to reconcile astrology and anthroposophy.

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