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.

The Magi & the Flame Part I



The Nativity story is powerfully evocative, even for those who do not profess to be Christian, despite the fact that it is almost or entirely apocryphal. For centuries the festival of Christmas, allegedly marking the birth of the Messiah, has almost seamlessly blending with parallel traditions and folklore, such as Santa Claus and Christmas trees, flying reindeer and gift giving. Few theologians still believe that 25 December is the actual birthday of Jesus. As we will see, literalism is not at home here. The original Christian Nativity narrative is related only in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The two remaining canonical Gospel writers don’t mention the Nativity and Paul never refers back to it.  The Christ of Paul is Christ Crucified. He shows no real interest in the life of the historical Jesus.

I doubt very much that there could ever be a definitive explanation of The Procession of the Magi which could take all elements and traditions into account. Rather, this is an exploration of the theme as it has expressed itself, even before the Christian narrative. I suggest that the story itself has so much power that it can accommodate, expand and deepen several traditions that coincide in some way with Christmas. It’s as if nature itself anticipates the “return” of the Sun. Yet there are no records, either Jewish or Roman that could confirm or deny the event. Nevertheless, the story endures and is passed on even by people who have little idea of its origin.

Interestingly, Luke makes no mention of the Magi.  Surely such an extraordinary event would have been recorded, if only by the other apostles. The meaning or identity of the star they followed

has also given also rise to a great deal of speculation, but no clear evidence has settled the debate.  In the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew (KJV) the apostle writes:

In the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew (KJV) the apostle writes:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Benozzo Gozzoli, - "the Young King" (detail) Procession of the Magi.

Benozzo Gozzoli, – “the Young King” (detail) Procession of the Magi.

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

Benozzo Gozzoli, - "the Middle King" (detail) Procession of the Magi

Benozzo Gozzoli, – “the Middle King” (detail) Procession of the Magi

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.


Benozzo Gozzoli, – “the old King” (detail) Procession of the Magi.

The two accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the time of Herod the Great to a betrothed virgin whose name was Mary.

There are, however, major differences. Matthew has no Census to report, no annunciation to the shepherds or a presentation in the Temple.and has him born in a house there and an unnamed angel appears to Joseph to announce the birth.

In Luke there are no Magi, no flight into Egypt, or Massacre of the Innocents, Joseph is a resident of Nazareth, the birth appears to take place in an inn instead of the family home, and the angel (named as Gabriel) announces the coming birth to Mary.[1]

While it is possible that Matthew’s account might be based on Luke or Luke’s on Matthew, the majority of scholars conclude that the two are independent of each other. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that tale of the Magi may well pre-date Christianity. The inclusion of them adds another dimension and underscores the status of The Prince of Peace.


a magian worshipping at a-fire altar

This is neither plagiarism nor wishful thinking. Those with a familiarity with the Gospel of John and the work of Philo will find them speaking the same language. Philo was a Hellenized Jew and prolific author of a large body of Neo-Platonic thought, set in the context of Judaism. His work On Creation is almost certainly the immediate source of the Logos or Word, which gives us the opening of John’s Gospel.

Philo wrote well before any Christian writing. John appears to be strongly influenced by Philo throughout hos own writings. Christianity and Neo-Platonism have enjoyed a harmonious relationship at the heart of much of Christian theology.

The Persian Magi were philosophers and priests. They were learned and skilled in medicine and natural science, including Astrology. They were prophets, although Christians preferred to use the term “soothsayers.”  The Magian religion was Zoroastrianism. Which had greatly informed Judaism, Sorcery was forbidden. They resembled the Brahmans in function and status. Their position and role in society were very much like that of the Druids.

Tradition has it that the Magi arrive at their destination on Epiphany, the final day of what became the Twelve days of Christmas. The Twelve Days is associated with Saturnalia. Twelfth Night is a holiday on January 5 that marks the 12th and final night of the Christmas season. The Twelve Days of Christmas are the twelve days beginning on the night of Christmas (December 25) and ending on Epiphany on January 6.  We can say that among other interpretations, the Epiphany is the recognition of Christ

Moreover, the number twelve has great significance. It’s the number of astrological Signs and the Apostles. It should come as no surprise that in ancient times the Sun was worshiped as a god.  If there is no Sun, there is no life. The association of the Sun with life itself became spiritualized, perhaps we should say internalized – a guiding light. We are in fact made of stardust. The Solstice is an astronomical event with major implications for life on Earth.

By the time of the European Renaissance, the Magi are invariably portrayed in the finery one might expect of a courtier. It became common to portray the Magi as representing the three stages of life. In fact what we find over the centuries is a practice of applying ever more meaning, as if projected upon them. This is surely the intent and the effect is to create a Universal story, with clear roots in the Solar Mithraism and Zoroastrianism expressed through Christian mysticism. The favoring of evocation over definition is part of the nexus.


Sirius – The Star in the East

The “three kings” have also been associated with the three bright stars in Orion’s belt.  Depending on your point of view, this either confuses or enriches the story. The “Three Kings” illustrated here is part of a much grander design in the “Chapel of the Magi” commissioned by the elder Cosimo and the family has been insinuated into the paintings, creating the sense that the Magi and the Medicis are part of the same story. The artist has included the three sisters of Lorenzo which offers up the idea that the Procession or Adoration of the Magi is a Universal, one in which we all share in one way or another. Our culture will determine the details and some may never understand the mystical significance. It would be a mistake to insist on literalism or historicity.

The Three Sisters of Lorenzo de Medici

The Three Sisters of Lorenzo de Medici

Similarly, it is not at all out of the question that the Three Kings are related to the Trinity in the Renaissance Magi, but in the sense of one to adore each Person of the Trinity. These kinds of associations were in congruence with the syncretic philosophy of Marsilio Ficino, a Catholic Priest who was also a Magus, translator of the Hermetica and almost all the works of Plato. His magnum opus was his Theologia Platonica. They were also at home in the antiquity of India, Persia, Egypt and other rich cultures who, to a greater or lesser extent, informed each other.

The origin of the word Magi is Persian. They are astrologers and sages. not kings. The star in the East was almost certainly Sirius. The coincidence with the Winter Solstice is no accident. What we have is a Solar festival, but also a mystical vision. The Epiphany and the Procession of the Magi are not just something that happened more than two thousand years ago. If that were the case, the story would have little relevance.  They were perhaps not so much following a star as acknowledging and venerating a great light that drew them to an epiphany. We can associate it of course with the Winter Solstice, the longest night followed by the waxing of the light. The Yule log, the lighting of candles and merry-making seem to fit seamlessly into the story.

In Polish tradition, the “star of Bethlehem” is the first star seen to rise on Christmas Eve. Gwiazdka is a symbol of the “Star of Bethlehem, whose appearance was accompanied by the birth of Jesus. Thanks to the Star of Bethlehem, the Magi could reach the place of birth of the Savior. Today, we expect the first star, which appears in the Christmas sky during Christmas Eve (Wigilia). Only after it shines, Poles sit at the table, divide the wafer and exchange Christmas greetings.” ( see Polish Toledo)  The spirit of Christmas takes precedence over identifying a particular star. Literalism misses the point.


Zoroastrianism Fire – Temple Sadeh Zoroastrian

The Epiphany and the Procession of the Magi are not just something that happened more than two thousand years ago. If that were the case, the story would have little relevance.  They were not so much following a star as seeing a great light that drew them to an epiphany. We can read the event as a Solar pilgrimage and celebration that includes a rich tapestry of related traditions,  with sources reaching back to remote antiquity.

Ficino is most eloquent on this point: that the Magi were embraced in the same way that the Academy of Florence had embraced Hermes Trismegistus, Zoroaster, Orpheus, Pythagoras and of course, Plato. Ficino accepted that all these sages had drunk from the same well of the prisca thelogia.  He often referred to the Nativity in his writings, particularly in his letters and in the Apologia. He had a life-long fascination with the Magi.

Just as the Zoroastrian is not worshipping fire. The flame is an outer manifestation of an inner state of being. We are drawn to the light in many ways and in many vessels.

In Part II of this article, I will examine the astronomy and astrology of the event as seen from 7BC.

(This article was originally published December 21, 2016)

This Sumerian bas-relief evokes most of the core themes of the Magian pilgrimage with which we are familiar. In this case, there are Four gods standing before the Tree of Life with a Winged Solar Disk above them, which is the symbol of Zoroastrianism.

Judaism & Divination


What I have to say here is not limited to Judaism by any means, but there are key concepts and beliefs within the religion that are helpful in explaining  the often awkward relationship between astrology and particularly monotheistic religions.

The term mazel tov is usually regarded as a Jewish phrase expressing congratulations or wishing someone good luck. It’s more complex than that, though. Mazel is fate, in the sense of  G_d working through the constellations. This the essence of the doctrine that the stars impel, they do not compel.In this respect the Jewish and Islamic view is the same.

There are of course many forms of astrology and they are not all viewed in the same way. Some off the main forms of astrology are Mundane and all forms off Predictive Astrology, including Horary.  These seek to see into the future, in one way or another : to predict a political win, a war, the establishment of a new kind of order and so on. in Horary,  the question isn’t always about the future. It could be a question such as ‘where are my keys’? or  ‘does that girl like me?’ Since the means of prognostication have to do with the interactions of energies. Is this really so different rom a doctor listening to your pulse? I don’t say there are no differences. I only suggest that the line is more difficult to draw than is often assumed.

The second group consists of Nativities, Medical Astrology and Electional Astrology. The first is what everyone calls a birth chart that describes the nature o the person, showing strength, weaknesses with an aim to help the person or her parents to help create the best environment and tools. This is actually less predictive than a weather forecast. The goal is to understand and help.

Medical Astrology is perhaps the most useful of all forms. It not only provides us with what we need to know about the person’s humours and temperament. We will find out what kinds of healing are likely to work best for this person and also gives us reliable information as to which kinds of diseases the native will most likely encounter. Hippocrates said “He who does not understand astrology is not a doctor but a fool.”

Electional astrology in essence is not a great deal different from consulting the Farmer’s Almanac, although considerably more refined.. To find the best time to do something, we choose a moment that is most propitious for the given purpose. This actually the same in spirit as planting by the Moon. It will of course be specialized for the person who asks when something might be done. Again, this is a means of helping others and doesn’t contradict the Jewish and Islamic prohibitions, or would not if understood.

So in reality, there are few out and out predictions made by anyone, not because it’s wrong or doesn’t work, but because it’s only used when needed,  It is a false idea turned dogma that the stars are the means by which Divine Will, or Great Spirit, speak to us. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds.of kinds of divination but astrology has stood the test of time for several millennia

It’s a rare event to find a Rabbi discussing these issues and I commend him for doing so.



Eclipse – Battle of Isandlewana

Battle of Islanhlwan by Charles Edwin Fripp

Battle of Islanhlwan by Charles Edwin Fripp

The Battle of Islandlwana on January 22, 1879, was the most dire defeat of the British Army against any indigenous people in the Empire and it occurred at what might be considered the zenith of British power during what has become known as the Zulu Wars. This battle has been of great interest to military strategists and historians. I’ll be looking at this through the eyes of an astrologer.

Although they eventually realized that they were massively outnumbered, the British forces were confident. The battle had not been expected and in fact the British also had 1500 oxen with them, presumably for settlers – certainly not what one takes to war. British forces had never encountered what was now bearing down upon them with unimaginable force.

They were well trained and seasoned soldiers, numbering 1800, including British, colonial and native forces. They also had approximately 400 civilians with them. They were using state of the art weapons and under the able command of Lt. Lord Chelmsford.

Of primary interest were the much prized Martini – Henry rifle, equipped with bayonets. This was the first time it had been used in combat and it turned out that it had a flaw when used repeatedly for long periods of time. They tended to overheat, making reloading more difficult. It is unlikely that this would have been a problem in other battles. As well, the rocket battery was not mounted and became increasingly useless as the battle unfolded


The effective firing range of the Martini – Henry rifle was 400 yds or 370 m. I emphasize this because the range of sight needed to allow for this ability. The may seem obvioius, but at the time the soldiers had no real doubts of being able to hold back the massive Zulu assault.

The army of 20,000 Zulus had no bows, horses or wheels for that matter. What they had were spears and clubs. According to the grandson of the Zulu chief, the warriors were given a variety of drugs that made them fearless, bloodthirsty and in fact visionary. At one point in the battle the Zulus saw “strange birds” coming for them which they believed were evil spirits conjured by the British.


I have not found an exact, reliable time for the beginning of the battle, but it was close to Noon. The real problem came a couple of hours later. We do know there was a Solar Eclipse that sealed the fate of the British. From the blinding early afternoon Sun, there was a darkness, made worse by the excessive smoke and dust . This was at 2.00 PM LMT

The approaching Zulus became invisible long enough to advance well within the rifle’s range and therefore too close for the army to have the advantage of being able to shoot the approaching Zulus before they were close enough for arm to arm combat, an enormous disadvantage to the British. The fact that the Zulus were unflinching suggests their shaman had predicted the eclipse. I have not found any evidence that this particular eclipse was know to the British soldiers in advance of the event.

The Zulu soon breached the perimeters and were virtually face to face with the British before they could see what was coming at them.. The Zulu used a traditional formation known as the “horns of the bull.” The idea was to encircle and destroy the enemy. The motif of the bull and cattle is quite evident and it’s difficult to ignore the relationship to the Ascendant,

These were the days when armies wore brilliant colours proudly, rather than using camouflage. Yes, there were ambushes, but we cannot call this the age of stealth. Yet non – visibility is what won the day.

The Ascendant is the life force and this chart gives us a highly afflicted Taurus Ascendant. Along with the Part of Fortune, it is in tight conjunction with the highly malefic Fixed Star know as Algol. It has a reputation for making one lose their head, either figuratively or literally and is associated with piled up corpses.  The Ascendant is disposited by Venus, in turn disposited by Saturn, She is Peregrine and Under the Beams. Saturn is in a weak sign in the Eleventh House, denying help from military associates and friends in general. Moreover, Saturn is Almuten of the chart and Venus is the Killing Planet.

Saturn in Halb can also be said to be Lord of the Eclipse, as he disposits both luminaries and both benefics. It doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to suggest the Zulu association with the Tenth House Sun, as they are in effect eclipsed and maintain the high ground, retaining their sovereignty,serpens

The *enemy* is in the martial and stealthy sign of Scorpio, ruled by Mars, out of sect in the Eighth House of Death and dispositing the Twelfth House – all in all, a nasty piece of work in the context of the chart as a whole.  The Lord of the Eighth House is Jupiter, suggesting many dead.  Mars is conjunct Ras Alhague, the star in the head of the Serpent-charmer (Orphiucus), the Moorish El Hauwe.

Pliny said that it occasioned much mortality by poisoning. This constellation has also been called Aesculapius and held to rule medicines. By the Kabalists it is associated with the Hebrew letter Oin and the 16th Tarot Trump “The Lightning Struck Tower”. [Robson*, p.54.] It also has another role – that of Shamanic healer. The considerable participation of the shamanic priests shouldn’t be underestimated. From the concoctions given to the warriors to the healings during the battle. They evoked a powerful force that made the Zulus fight as one and without fear.

Given the inescapable association of the British with the Lion, I cannot but associate the Leo S. Node as the ‘end of the matter’ in the Fourth House. This can be taken as both the Lion defeated as well as resurgent. The Zulus won the battle, but decidedly lost the war

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.

Sacred Science & Materialistic Literalism

Pythagoras - Detail from Raphael's "School of Athens"

Pythagoras – Detail from Raphael’s “School of Athens”

Considering the extreme distaste modern scientists have for dogma, they can be surprisingly dogmatic. Of course the greatest minds realize there is not a single means of perception and the same phenomena can be seen and understood in different ways without being wrong. For example, The Vedas show a remarkable wisdom and understanding which may fairly be called sacred science. Yet the hubris of modern scientists often finds the term sacred science to be oxymoronic.

There is a persistent and pernicious belief that real intelligence began with the Enlightenment . Whether of not this is wilful ignorance, it is blind to the extraordinary wisdom and what I would call sacred science which is older by thousands of years. Much of it is only now being understood by modern people.

However, much of the common parlance of scientists suggests a teleological sensibility, For example, I recently watched a wonderful documentary on marine life at 15,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Philippines. .

Essentially all life forms at that depth have a luminescence comparable to the terrestrial firefly. Then the marine biologist in charge stated that a jelly fish like creature had a red stomach so that other life forms couldn’t see luminescence in the stomach.

That statement is in fact teleological. It is telling us that this trait exists for a reason and is therefore not the result of random mutation. The Oxford English Dictionary defines teleological as an “explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes.” The sense that there is meaning and purpose in the universe beyond what is virtually blind chance has been ridiculed by the term “Intelligent Design.”untitled

While the vast majority of astrologers would want to distance themselves from biblical literalism with a fear of science, the term itself is well conceived. Every time a scientist finds herself explaining creation by the purpose they serve, she betrays a split in consciousness.

There has been a hoax circulating for many years suggesting that Einstein was supportive, even admiring, of astrology. It’s a moot point in any case as there is no evidence that Einstein ever studied astrology. I cannot think why he would. However, for those of us who dostudy astrology, his scientific and philosophical views seem familiar and harmonious.

In an interview with Alfred Stern in the Contemporary Jewish Record 8  (June 1945 pp. 245-249,  Einstein tells us that he is “not a positivist. Positivism states that what cannot be observed does not exist. This conception is scientifically indefensible, for it is impossible to make valid affirmations of what people ‘can’ or ‘cannot’ observe. One would have to say ‘only what we observe exists’, which is obviously false.” ~

This video addresses these issues in an intelligent and respectful way.*


Modern materialist thought tends to be childishly literal, finding ancient systems of though such as astrology to be mere superstition or worse. Ironically, the greatest minds who lay the basis and furthered the cause of science were also serious astrologers. These include Galileo, Nicolas Copernicus and Sir Isaac Newton to name but a few. Wisdom and science were never so much at war as they have been since the European 18th Century

*I would like to give credit for the creator of this video, but have regrettably been unable to establish provenance beyond the VideoPress stamp. If you have this information, please contact me.