Commentary on Averrores – BBC

Abū l-Walīd Muḥammad Ibn ʾAḥmad Ibn Rushd‎ (Latinized as Averroes), lived from 14 April 1126 – 10 December 1198. He was a Medieval Andalusian polymath who wrote profusely on logic, Aristotelian and Islamic philosophy, theology, the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence,  psychology, political and Andalusian classical music theory, geography and mathematics, Averroes is of great importance in Islamic philosophy for multiple reasons. He argued for the reconciliation of reason with revealed religion, pointing out passages from the Qu’ran to support his position. He was a powerful proponent of Astrology for the same reasons. He was accused of shirk or polytheism, for referring to the planets, and most particularly Venus, as if they were divine. He was exiled but eventually embraced back into court in Morroco.

Magic and the Occult in Islam: Ahmad al-Buni

What follows is a very fine lecture by Saiyad Nizamuddin Ahmad (Department of Arabic and Islamic Civilizations, American University in Cairo) delivered at the Warburg Institute, University of London, May 2003.

This is an important lecture in it’s own right, but I’m also posting this as an introduction to my next post, regarding the decoding of a manuscript using astrological elements such as Lunar Mansions, Constellations and significant stars; while making reference to the Picatrix. I’m delighted to see so much research and scholarship brought to bear on the astrological tradition and it’s association with Alchemy, Geomancy. & Theurgy.

Queen Isabella I of Castile – An Exercise in Rectification

Isabel_de_castillaIsabella in the Rimado de la Conquista de Granada, from 1482, by Pedro Marcuello

Isabel de castile in the Rimado de la Conquista de Granada, from 1482, by Pedro Marcuello

The Astro Databank  offers the following natal data for Queen Isabella I of Castile.  22 April 1451 Jul.Cal. (1 May 1451 greg.) at 16:40 (= 4:40 PM ) Place Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Spain, 41n05, 5w0 Timezone LMT m5w0 (is local mean time). Rodden gives it a AA rating. Although I’m comfortable with the date, there is reason to believe the time is off by about two hours.

Rectification is made a bit easier if we have a good image of the person whose chart we are adjusting. Regrettably , portraits of Isabella differ considerably.  That still leaves us with scores of techniques, but I’m going to use just a few of them that work well in situations like this..

Rectification is a core skill for any astrologer. One needs to learn to recognize what I will call astrological discrepancies. For example, it is not a difficult task to recognize whether Saturn is in the First House or the Twelfth. there are physical and temperamental differences. One need only look and ask a few simple questions. The same goes for any planet or luminary. However, other potential house misplacements are more subtle and require other means.

Like any historical character of note, there have been many biographies, commentaries, pamphlets, films and polemics about Isabel. They portray her in a better or worse light and from many points of view However, there are a few core traits attributed to her which are almost universal.  She was an intensely pious Roman Catholic and her religion came before everything, with her duty to the realm as a close second. Nobody has credibly argued she didn’t love her husband, King Ferdinand, but she always made it clear that the realm came before everything but God. For Isabel they were in fact closely related when it cam to purging the Moors and Jews from Spain

She was tenacious, famously stubborn and excessively jealous. She was courageous beyond all expectations. She could also be fanatical, particularly in matters of religion  and it is this trait that has left the darkest legacy. Sometimes our virtues are our vices taken to the extreme.

As a savvy Queen, she was blessed with great statesmen, but the final decisions were very much her own. She was determined to turn a conglomerate of states into a unified, Christian Spain. She was shrewd enough to be the only monarch to supply and offer her patronage to a young Christopher Columbus,. Because of the immense groundwork done by Isabella and Ferdinand, Spain became a united and affluent state.

iberia-1469_l

Below is the chart as shown on Astro Databank. Here we find both Mercury and Venus retrograde in Aries and on the Descendant, disposited by Mars in the Ninth and of course in Mutual reception with Mercury. An Airy Mars dispositing a weak and retrograde Mercury in Venus in Aries. is a recipe for volatile jealousy. However, it would seem to fit better if Mercury and Venus were in the Eighth and Mars in the Tenth. We can return to this chart, but for how I have good reason to consider alternative times. Mercury is conjunct the Pillar of the Horoscope ( Lot). This is true in both charts and draws attention to the importance of Mercury as the Lord of the Ascendant in the rectified chart.

Picture8The suggested rectification is for the same place and date but for two hours earlier. We can refine this, but this is good place to start. Instead of the Sun in the Eight and Libra Ascending, we know have a Ninth House Sun with the Part of Eros (Venus) and a Mercurial Virgo Ascending.

The Sun in the Ninth House of God is in his Joy. The placement accompanied by the Part of Eros speaks of intense piety, as was not shown in the previous chart. Ferdinand and Isabella had seven children;, five of whom survived to adulthood.

Although neither one of the Houses of Children seems to support that, there is in fact an enormous difference. In the rectified chart the Lord of the Fifth House changes from dry, barren Aquarius to Capricorn which is a semi fruitful sign. In itself, this is slight, but when we consider that the Lord of the Fifth is disposited by Venus and that the Lord of the Seventh is now Jupiter and the Lord of the Eleventh is the Moon.

PicturebThe overall picture, by no means ideal, is immeasurably better than what we had in the first chart. Perhaps we may allow ourselves to ponder the significance of Pisces in the House of Partners, signifying,  confidante-like relationships, including interaction with priests, marriage and business partners, agreements and treaties, matters dealing with diplomatic relations of all kinds, including open (known) enemies and attraction to qualities we admire from the other partner. I do not think it irrelevant that Ferdinand was a Solar Pisces.

The alternative is Mars as Lord of the Seventh House, complete with Venus in detriment. This doesn’t fit.

Mostly what we’ve done is move the houses over one place, but the results are considerable. Such things as the Part of Fortune and possibly the Hyleg will differ accordingly.

The Lord of Manners is easily identified as Saturn and Isabella was in fact known for her austere demeanor and life in general. Her dominant humour is melancholic., secondarily choleric   ( See Edwards, John. The Spain of the Catholic Monarchs 1474–1520. Blackwell Publishers Inc, 2000, p. 241-260 ). In the previous chart, Saturn would be in the Twelfth House an would radically change her stature and demeanour.

There are a few things that convince me that the second chart is closer to the correct time. In this one, The Sun is parallel Regulus and Aldebaran. The Part of Fortune is conjunct Aldebaran. These are both royal stars of the first degree.

In both charts Mars is overwhelmingly supported by Bellatrix and Betelgeuse and these are conjunct the mid-heaven in the rectified chart. Both are powerful stars. Bellatrix is a bright star in the shoulder of Orion  which embodies the power of the Feminine.

This one, far more than the first, is the chart of a great Queen, with intense religiosity and devotion. We have identified the volatile jealousy, replaced the infertility with far better conditions.  The Lord of the Eleventh House is her Moon in detriment. This tells us that she was largely self reliant.

These are fairly simple techniques for cases such as this one, where the main problem is the house and planetary positions providing a clearly inaccurate description based on what you know about the native.

Appendix I : Solar Revolutions

As stated in the article above, this wasn’t intended to be an exhaustive exercise, but rather to show some basic techniques for detecting an incorrect birth time. This was in part based on house placements that seemed to conflict with our knowledge of the native. I had made it very clear that there were several other techniques that might be applied to back up or fine tune our rectification.

However, in light of recent queries I’m happy to show that the chart is proven closer to the exact time by other means. Again, there is a myriad of tools available. However, I’ve settled on the what is probably the simplest technique. I’m adding the Solar Revolution Charts for the Year 1470, when Isabella gave birth to her first child, who was also named Isabel. The first is the chart for the Rodden data. The second is for the rectified chart.

roddenSRI find it unnecessary to go into great detail here. The charts speak plainly enough. The one from Astro Databank (above) gives virtually no hint of childbirth. In fact had there been one at all, it would likely not have not gone full term. The Lord of the fifth house of children is a Mercurial Venus in the barren sign of Gemini. Morover, the Lord of Venus is Mercury retrograde in the Twelfth House with Saturn. There is mutual reception, but I can’t ss this being of much use in this case. We vcan look at the Seventh and Eleventh House, but we find the Lord of the Seventh also in a barren sign.  The Eleventh tells us next to nothing. The Lord of the Eleventh is Mars in his Fall.

rectifiedThe second chart is very different. Here we have Jupiter in Leo with the Part of Fortune, but in the Fourth House., disposited by the Sun in Venusian Taurus. This gives us some hope.

Mercury, Lord of the Fifth, is still Retrograde, but he’s in his Joy in the first house. This is a very signicant difference. Mercury tends to take on some of the qualities of the sign we find him in. Taurus is a very fertile sign and Mercury can act here.

Over all, the rectified chart is immeasurably better than the original, particularly indofar as it’s signatures of fertility.

Both charts are Void of Course and neither gives us any of the Lots of parenthood as a guide. I’m still far more certain about the rectified chart. Neither chart is ideal, but the unrectified chart is clearly incorrect.

Appendix II : Solar Revolution – Marriagefinal

Finally, as if we needed more evidence, we have a Solar Revolution for the year of her marriage to Ferdinand. I’m using Morinus software because it provides more graphic information. I do not intend to get into much detail. The charts authenticity pretty much speaks for itself

Those of you who have studied Isabella’s life, will know her brother Henry was an ineffectual but treacherous monarch. He had done all he could to block her from successsion. It is no surprise then to see a weak Mars in the house of brothers as it is for the following year. Henry was in frail health and died during 1474 in Madrid

Most spectacularly, Jupiter is in his Exatation is in the House of Partners. The Sun is in the Fifth House. The Part of Fortune is in the Royal sign of Leo.

So we have an ongoing process. First there is the recognition that the chart is skewed, then step by step we narrow it down then test with Solar Revolution. Again, there are many other tools to use and many events we can try to nail down, but that really isn’t necessary. I’m convinced of the superiority of the rectification, although I make no claims to the exact degree. I’m primarly concerned with house placements and plausible planetary positions. This will meet most requirments in any case. Perhaps at some later time, we can discuss the finer tuning.

The Astrological Mysticism of Shaykh al-Akbar Ibn Arabi

 Ibn Arabi Portrait - Muhammad Ibn Arabi

Astrology is a mystical art. As far as Occidental, Arabian, Persian and to a large extent Indian astrology is concerned, its basis is the Syncretic Neo Platonic and Hermetic Philosophy as it flourished in Alexandria. Of course these different but compatible philosophies had far more ancient roots. It is also true that astrology differed in its expression, depending on the culture in which it was practiced. But the differences are for the most part quite superficial. At the core of all these strains is the Hermetic dictum : As above, So below. This isn’t just a saying or something that is true some of the time. It is Divine Spark and Living truth. This is but a brief introduction to the underlying spiritual principles ,from the point of view of  a Sufi master.

I wonder if anyone understood this better than Ibn Arabi. You won’t just finds his Mystical Astrology in the books he wrote on the subject. His world view was soaked in and consumed by the expression of mysticism – a cosmos where all was inextricably connected. I recommend his book Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom for deeper insight.

Ibn ʿArabī was an Arab Andalusian Sufi mystic and philosopher, nicknamed “Son of Plato.” He is also one of the best know Astrologers of the Islamic Golden Age. Born: July 28, 1165, Murcia – Died: November 10, 1240 in Damascus. One of his greatest gifts is what I will call meta – astrology, and articulation of the manifestation of the divine through astrology.

At about the age of fifteen. he had an extraordinary mystical unveiling or “opening.”  This is mentioned in his famous account of  his meeting with Averroes. The experience changed him and only after this original divine “attraction did he begin his Sufi practice . Ibn ‘Arabi also studied the traditional sciences, as did virtually all astrologers.

15 th Century Map of Andalusia

15 th Century Map of Andalusia

His full name, of great importance in the Islamic tradition, consisting of mostly titles and references to his lineage is Muhyī al-dīn Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muhammad bin ‘Alī bin Muhammad bin Ahmad bin ‘Abd Allāh bin al-‘Arabī al-Tā’ī al-Hātimī al-Andalusī

The title Muhyī al-dīn appears in early manuscripts written during the lifetime of Ibn ‘Arabī, and would seem to have been not simply an honorific title but a conscious appeal to the common Muslim view that in every century of Islam there would appear

Ibn Arabi

Ibn Arabi

someone who would “renew” the religion (mujaddid). AbūHāmid al-Ghazzālī had been generally accepted as the “reviver of religion” in the sixth century of the Hijra, and another great renewer was expected for the

seventh. Ibn ‘Arabī himself was certainly very aware of al-Ghazzālī’s legacy, and named several of his works in imitation of his great predecessor.[4] While there is no evidence that he openly portrayed himself with such a title, he equally did nothing to prevent its ascription to him during his lifetime. (by Stephen Hirtenstein -Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society, Vol. 41, 2007.)

Titus Burkhardt writes in his Introduction to The Mystical Astrology of Iban Arabi :

Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi englobes in a certain fashion the essential reality of heliocentricism in his cosmological edifice : like Ptolemy and like those all th rough the Middle Ages he assigns to the sun, which he compares to th e ‘Pole’ (qutb) and to the heart of the world’ (qalb al-‘alam), a central  p0sition on in the hierarchy of th e celestial spheres, and this by assigning equal numbe rs of superior skies and inferior skies to the sky of the sun; he amplifies nevertheless the system of Ptolemy by yet again underlining the

Medieval list of Ibn_Arabi_Books

Medieval list of Ibn_Arabi_Books

symmetry of the spheres with respect to the sun : according to his cosmological system, which he probably holds from the Andalusian Sufi Ibn Masarrah, the sun is not only in the centre of the six known planets -Mars (al-mirik.h ), Jupiter (al-mushtari) and Saturn (az-zuhal) being further away from theibnarabi-cosmos Earth (al-ardh) than the Sun (ash-shams), and Venus (az­zuhrah), Mercury (al-utarid) and the Moon (al-qamar) being closer -but beyond the sky of Saturn is situated the vault of the sky of th e fi xed stars (falak al-kawakib), th at of the sky with­out stars (al-falak al-atlas), and the two supreme spheres of the ‘Divine Pedestal’ (al-kursi) and of th e ‘Divine Throne’ (al­’arsh), concentric spheres to which symetrically correspond the four sub-lunar spheres of ether (al-athir), of air (al-hawa), of water (al-ma) and of earth (aJ-ardh ). Thus is apportioned sevenmansions

degrees to either side of the sphere of the sun, the Divine (Throne) symbolizing the synthesis of all the cosmos, and the centre of the earth being thereof both the inferior conclusion and the center of fixation (Burkhardt p. 12).

Ibn Arabi’s mysticism is in most respects universal, but with regard to the Moon for example, his beliefs coincided with Islamic esotericism. The Moon plays a particular visual role in Islamic culture. Most Islamic countries have the Moon as part of their flag, Islam itself  however is under the governance of Venus as all Arab and Persian astrologers have made clear.

Ibn_Arabi

Ibn_Arabi

I would like to focus on this Lunar material because of course it directly relates to the Lunar Mansions. For Ibn Arabi, the Moon receives all influences which she then collects to transmit to Earth.  Adam is considered Lunar Man and Enoch is Solar Man – The first is Primordial and individual man and the latter the Divine Man. The full extent of this system requires considerable study and certainly more than I am able to do here. Still, these simple but profound things are important to keep in mind.

Ibn Arabi compares the “‘unique man ‘, which receives th e revelation (tajaili) of the Divine Essence (dhat); this heart changes form continually according to the different ‘essential truths’ (haqc1 iq) which leave successively therein their imprint” (Burkhardt 34).He has a masterful understanding of the archetypes and employs them in a mystical astrologer that is also accurate. We are after all referring to Divine Essence.

The qualities of the Divine Names are of necessity innumerable, because this Essence cannot be the “subject” of a science because that would imply distinction, in a similar sense as the infinite cannot be grasped by a finite mind.

” the Master makes th e 28 mansions of the Moon correspond to as many Divine Names. On the other hand, these, which all have an active or creative character, have as complements or as direct objects the same number of cosmic degrees, so th at their connection forms a second analogous cycle. The series of these cosmic degrees produced by the series of the Divine Names go from the first manifestation of the In­tellect down to the creation of man. ” (Burkhardt 37.) Ibn Arabi ‘s is a living breathing and divine creation.

Returning to the Moon, Ibn Arabi explains that it is this Lunar mediation that relates to what he calls the “transformation of the Primordial Sound” that is the vehicle of spiritual revelation, in articulated language. Islamic mysticism creates a correspondence between the  28 Mansions of the Moon and Twenty Eight letters or sounds of the sacred language.

It is not like people think,’ – says Muhyid din Ibn ‘Arabi, – ‘that the mansions of the Moon represent the models of the letters; it is the 28 sounds which determine the  lunar mansions.” These sounds represent in fact the micro­ cosmic and human expression of the essential determinations of th e Divine Breath, which is itself the prime motivation of cosmic cycles. The Master counts the 28 sounds of the Arabic alphabet from the first lunar mansion, which follows the Spring Equinox, in the successive order of their phonetic exteriorisation, beginning with the hiatus (al-hamzah), and going on through the gutteral consonants to the labials passing through the palatals and the dentals. If one takes into account the fact that the initial hiatus is not properly speaking a so und, but only a transitory instant be tween silence and locution, the series of sounds attributed to the lunar mansions begins with the haand ends with the waw, these two letters composing the Divine Name huwa, ‘ He’, symbol of th e Essence one and identical to Itself.  (Burkhardt p.35)document-image8

In this brief but admittedly dense introduction to Ibn Arabi’s metaphysics and astrological mysticism we can find deep insight into the entire astrological tradition, most specifically Arabian, but really of all true forms of the art. I hope it encourages readers to delve further into this fascinating and rich material. I would be very happy to discuss it with you. I might follow-up with an article on a specific element of Ibn Arabi’s astrology in the near future