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Babylonian astrology

In Babylon as well as in Assyria as a direct offshoot of Babylonian culture, astrology takes its place in the official cult as one of the two chief means at the disposal of the priests (who were called bare or "inspectors") for ascertaining the will and intention of the gods, the other being through the inspection of the liver of the sacrificial animal.

Babylonian astrology was the first organized system of astrology, arising in the second millennium B.C.There is speculation that astrology of some form appeared in the Sumerian period in the 3rd millennium BC, but the isolated references to ancient celestial omens dated to this period are not considered sufficient evidence to demonstrate an integrated theory of astrology. The history of scholarly celestial divination is therefore generally reported to begin with late Old Babylonian texts c. 1800 B.C.), continuing through the Middle Babylonian and Middle Assyrian periods (c. 1200 B.C.).

By the 16th century B.C. the extensive employment of omen-based astrology can be evidenced in the compilation of a comprehensive reference work known asEnuma Anu Enlil. Its contents consisted of 70 cunieform tablets comprising 7,000 celestial omens. Texts from this time also refer to an oral tradition - the origin and content of which can only be speculated upon. At this time Babylonian astrology was solely mundane, and prior to the 7th century B.C. the practitioners' understanding of astronomy was fairly rudimentary. Because of their inability to accurately predict future celestial phenomena and planetary movement very far in advance, interpretations were done as the phenomena occurred or slightly before. By the 4th century, however, their mathematical methods had progressed enough to calculate future planetary positions with reasonable accuracy, at which point extensive ephemerides began to appear.

The Essence of the Babylonian Astrology

The picture of the celestial firmament, directly observed by the unaided eyes of the astrologer, is the essence of the Babylonian Astrology. It is an observational one where the direct experience of the sky is of utmost importance. Light and color upon the canvas of the sky - the true picture that God draws for us every moment. In the day it's light-blue and lit with solar light. In the night, it's ultramarine and dotted with stars and planets- points of light- white, blue, yellow or orange.

The Babylonian day starts and finishes with the sunset. The night is first, then follows the day. Night was divided in 6 equal hours. And the same for the day. The transition between night and day are powerful events when the celestial firmament is lucid with all colors of the rainbow. The sunset and the sunrise are processes of up to two hours of duration. The sunrise starts in the deepest night when for the first time the astrologer sees the faintest halo of light on the eastern horizon. Forty minutes before the Sun rises, its halo around the horizon has all colors of the rainbow. Twenty minutes later, the whole horizon is encircled with a true, gigantic rainbow. At this moment the swallows swirl and chirp high in the sky, celebrating the new day.

The Babylonian astrologer looks at the sky with eyes of an artist. If he sees a planet rising in the powerful solar halo, he will see a jewel in the crown of the Sun. He will see this as an omen for the day that follows. If this happens on the sunrise of the first day of the year, he will see this as an omen for the whole year.

The first day of every month was the one when the New Crescent of the Moon was observed for the first time after being invisible. How does the first lunar sickle look? What color? Does it come up high or low in altitude? How much time is it observed until it sets? Where do its horns point to? Do planets or stars show up in its vicinity? All these is observed and recorded in a state more meditational than inquisitive. The sunset of the first appearance of the New Crescent is the omen of the month that follows, as the sunset of each day is the omen of the night that follows.

The time of the New Crescent and the remaining babylonian lunar phases and also the time of appearance of the planets and the stars may be quite different for different latitudes and longitudes. The first of each babylonian month for Israel and Canada may be days apart. More than that! Clouds, storms, winds and other weather and atmospheric phenomena are taken in account as well. This all makes Babylonian Astrology impossible without the personal, direct observation of the astrologer. And what he sees is valid only for his city, since the New Crescent may appear bright at one place and dim 20 miles away.

The most important time for observations in Babylonian Astrology is the time of the sunset and sunrise. Not the moment of the visual sunset and sunrise- when the Sun is exactly at the horizon, but the whole process of the light-transformation of the sky that may be more than 2 hours in duration.

If the astrologer sees planets or stars rising on the east during the process of the sunrise, he will see them in the solar light-halo and on different background of color depending on the brightness of the planet or star. Venus on the day of its first morning appearance, coming up around 30 minutes before visual sunrise, will be seen on the background of a lucid orange sky, only 2 or 3 degrees above horizon - a most powerful experience. Mercury may be seen on yellow-green background, one hour before visual sunrise.

The same applies for the sunset, but if we see planets close to the solar sunset-halo, these planets will be 'evening stars'. At the present moment (February-March 2000), Mars, Jupiter and Saturn can be seen on the west after sunset. Venus can be still seen as a 'morning star'.

In addition to these heliacal phases, the planets and the stars have others, that are taken in account in the Babylonian Astrology. Altogether, Venus and Mercury may have six; Jupiter, Mars and Saturn eight, and the stars six distinct heliacal phases. The Moon also has six different heliacal phases and consequently the babylonian month is divided into six periods. We should underline and remember that the babylonian lunar phases have little in common with the lunar phases of the present age. (In Tetrabiblos there are plenty of traces from Babylonian Astrology. In fact, we cannot fully understand Ptolemy if we do not know Babylonian Astrology. In book I, chapter 8, Ptolemy describes the temperament and influences of the Moon in her different phases. Unfortunately the word anatolh meaning 'Rise' is translated as New Moon in many translations. It should be New Crescent. Cardan in his commentaries of the Tetrabiblos translates it correctly as oriens (Rise). The New Crescent is the appearance of the lunar crescent shortly after sunset on the west.)

The Babylonian first day of the new year is Nisan 1, when the New Crescent is being observed for the first time with the Sun being in tropical Aries. The sunset and sunrise on that day are observed carefully, since they both are the omens of the whole year that follows. The heliacal phases of the planets, the colors, intensity and brightness of the solar halo, the atmospheric conditions, the clouds and the winds on that day are extremely important.

Five Principles of the Babylonian Astrolog

The Light is the primary medium for communication of the stars. God is Light and the whole World is made of Light. The medium of God through which He may show us what He wants is the Light. The Light is the object of sight and sight is our primary sense. The stars emanate their essence outward into Light and let us know them thereby. The more shiny a star, the stronger. The steadier its light, the steadier its nature. When it shines on Earth for the most part of the night (un-annihilated by the solar light), then the peak of its influence. When the star cannot be seen, then the trough of its influence.

The picture of the celestial firmament, directly observed by the unaided eyes of the astrologer, is the essence of Babylonian Astrology. No ephemeris, no books, no computer program is Babylonian Astrology. Not a part of the sky is to be observed, but the whole sky since the whole firmament is the screen of the Divine projection. Each and every point on the sky- with its luminosity and color- is an integral part of the picture that God draws for us every moment. And what we see on the firmament with our own eyes only is what is important.

The most important times for observation are the Sunrise and the Sunset. The Sun is the Epiphany of God in the sky. He annihilates all close to him. And all emitt light borrowed from Him. The night starts with the sunset and the sunset is the omen of the night. The day starts with the sunrise and the sunrise is the omen of the day. The sunrise starts in deep night when the astrologer for the first time sees the faintest traces of light on the eastern horizon. The sunset ends when the last traces of light vanish from the western horizon. The gigantic rainbow coloring of the horizon during sunrise and sunset is the crown of the Sun.

Every star has a life-cycle. It's born when seen for the first time in the crown of the rising Sun. It reaches its apogee when its light is strongest and when it shines for the whole night. And it dies on the evening when seen for the last time being annihilated into the sunset. It's dead when invisible. And it's resurrected when visible again in the rainbow halo of the sunrise. Mercury and Venus rising in the morning in the crown of the sunrise are related to the day and they are full with the vigor of the day, marching toward actualization and action. They are male. When appearing on the western sky after sunset, they are nightly and passive. More magnetic and poetic, related to the meditational mood of the night when all relax or enjoy. They are female. The other stars are related to the day as long as we can observe them rising (i.e. they rise in the night). Then their power is constructive as the day is. When they rise in the beginning of the night then they shine almost all night- they have reached their apogee of strenght. When we cannot observe them rising (i.e. they rise during the day), we see them already high in the sky after sunset. Then they are related to the night and their influence is more destructive and passive as the night when most predators act while the other rest.

The babylonian astrologer looks at the sky with eyes of an artist. If he sees a planet rising in the powerful solar halo, he will see a jewel in the crown of the Sun. He will see this as an omen for the day that follows. If this happens on the sunrise of the first day of the year (1st of Nisan in the Babylonian tradition and 1st of Tashrit in the Sumerian one), he will see this as an omen for the whole year. The first of every month was the day when the New Crescent of the Moon was observed for the first time after being invisible. How does the first lunar sickle look? What color? Does it come up high or low in altitude? How much time is it observed until it sets? Where do its horns point to? Do planets or stars show up in its vicinity? All these is observed and recorded in a state more meditational than inquisitive. The sunset of the first appearance of the New Crescent is the omen of the month that follows. As the sunset of each day is the omen of the night that follows. The time of the New Crescent and the remaining babylonian lunar phases and also the time of appearance of the planets and the stars may be quite different for different latitudes and longitudes. The first of each babylonian month for Israel and Canada may be days apart. More than that! Clouds, storms, winds and other weather and atmospheric phenomena are taken in account as well. This all makes Babylonian Astrology impossible without the personal, direct observation of the astrologer. And what he sees is valid only for his city, since the New Crescent may appear bright at one place and dim 20 miles away.


Solar and Lunar Eclipses {AN-KU (shamash OR sin)}

These were closely watched. The eclipses were recorded in the horoscopes even if they fell 6 months apart from the birth-date. The term was 'AN-KU'. Of importance for the prognosis were:

  • Date and time of occurence (position of the eclipsed body in the sky)
  • Duration
  • Magnitude of the eclipse
  • Direction of the shadow
  • The color of the eclipse and the disk
  • The planets and stars observed during the eclipse
  • Which parts of the disk were eclipsed.
Factors 5, 6 and 7 were the most important for the solar eclipses and factors 5 and 7: for the lunar. The astrological interpretation of the quality of the solar eclipse depends almost solely on factors 5 and 6. If Jupiter was seen during a total solar eclipse: good. Not so good if this was Mars...

The colors are related to planets, according to the Babylonian Astrology, as follows:

  • white: Venus
  • orange: Jupiter
  • dusky or grey: Saturn
  • red: Mars
  • variable: Mercury
  • blue: Moon
  • yellow?: Sun.

 

 


 

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