Astrology in Islam

It is He Who maketh the stars (as beacons) for you, that ye may guide yourselves, with their help, through the dark spaces of land and sea: We detail Our signs for people who know. (Surah Al-An‘am, 97)

Lunar Calendar – detail of an almanac cover page. Topkapi Palace Museum Library, MS B 309. “This calendar was important in defining the times of religious observances that were new to the Muslim community. The Islamic religion, whose rituals were based on the lunar calendar, frequently calls the attention of Muslims to the heavens in the Koran, demonstrating the close relationship with astronomy in Muslim culture. ” Dr. Salim Ayduz  (Muslim Heritage)

If you were to conduct a search on the subject of Islam and Astrology, you find several rulings by Muslim scholars. It is neither my place nor my interest in contradicting them. But I take exception to the way that astrology is falsely presented and I mean to show how the art is a part of the Islamic experience.  This passage will serve to provide a fair representation of the position of the naysayers:

“Not only is the practice of astrology is [sic] haram, but also visiting an astrologer and listening to his predictions, buying books on astrology or reading one’s horoscope are also forbidden. Since astrology is mainly used to predicting the future, those who practice it are considered fortune-tellers. Consequently, one who seeks his horoscope comes under the ruling contained in the Prophet’s statement. ” (See Sunnah Online). The prophet’s statement is concerned with fortune tellers and the annulment of prayers for those who visit one.

When the passage is distilled, we find that the chief complaint is that astrologers predict the future.  For now, I will simply state that predictions are also made by the weather bureau,  ordinary farmers, physicians,  political commentators and so on. The is no supernatural force at work, although as with the other livelihood a knowledge of the subject and a keen intuition are part of the skill. I mean to address this and other issues regarding what is haram or halal with respect to the celestial sciences.

To begin, I will attempt to create a rough context for the practise of astrology in Islam, recognizing that this is the same or identical in other faiths. The question of whether or not astrology is permitted in Islam is not a simple question by any means. I have worked to place the question in the context of various forms of Islamic understanding, including the Quran itself. I find that the question isn’t so much whether astrology is haram or halal, but how astrology is interpreted in the first place.

This is a key passage:

“Your Guardian-Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne (of authority): He draweth the night as a veil o’er the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession: He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, (all) governed by laws under His command.s it not His to create and to govern? Blessed be Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds! “(Surah Al-A‘raf, 54)

There is no question that the stars and planets are governed by laws that are above them. Plato, Plotinus, Aristotle, Ficino, Hinduism, the Abrahamic faiths along with all Islamic astrologers agree on that. This is why it is completely wrong-headed to consider authentic astrology as idolatry or placing the Creation above the Creator. That isn’t how it works.

The passage is a clear parallel to Genesis, which shouldn’t be surprising. There were large Jewish communities in centers like MekKa and Medina at the time of Muhammad. At the same time, the epithets for Allah – “Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds’ sounds more Hindu than Jewish. This is what Hindus call Vishnu. I make this comment to get the idea across that ancient Arabia was a culture of trade and with trade go ideas. They were not isolated.

Again this is made plain: “He has made subject to you the Night and the Day; the sun and the moon; and the stars are in subjection by His Command: verily in this are Signs for men who are wise. (Surah An-Nahl, 12)

There is no more fundamental belief in Islam than the concept of Tawhid. Islamic scriptures are replete with  This is but one.  Here we have the instruction to “follow what thou art taught by inspiration from the Lord: there is no god but He: and turns aside from those who join gods with Allah. (Surah Al-An‘am, 106). A term related to this is shirk – attributing partners to Allah.  It would take either a great misunderstanding of Islam and astrology to conclude that the wisdom conveyed via the stars denies the oneness of Allah.

The modifier “Sign for men who are wise” is crucial. Without special knowledge and insight, the further dimensions of meaning remain hidden. Indeed, there is no reason why everyone would need to know the greater workings of the celestial science.

Nevertheless, everyone needs to know the everyday calendrical information. In Islam, the Moon is of great significance for this and many other reasons, as the flags and mosque symbols of Islam attest. In the desert the Sun is pitiless and the cool of the evening a welcome respite. Pre-Islamic Middle Eastern lunar deities were ubiquitous and often considered male.

The image shows the phases of the moon in a month. This is a page taken form a calendar prepared by Sayyid Ahmed b. Mustafa Al-La’li, who presented this calendar to the Sultan Selim II in 1566. Courtesy of Sam Fogg – London.

Classical astrologers have learned much of what they know from the ancient sources of the Middle East, Greece, Persia & India. In what were the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, Islamic astrology came into what has become known as a Golden Age.  So the question as to whether or not Islam permits the use of astrology isn’t likely to trouble many practitioners.

I do not write this article with a mind to changing anyone’s point of view. I would, however, like to make it as clear as possible how classical astrologers, including historical Islamic ones, understand their own craft. In doing so, I make one short digression.  The idea of belief is itself somewhat problematic. It lies somewhere in a grey area between faith and the void.  We might also say that it’s like faith without understanding. For example, do I have to ‘believe in’ mathematics in order for it to work? Probably not.  However, I’m not likely to derive much utility from mathematics if I refuse to employ the tools it offers. Belief has no sincere interest in the examined truth and is content to accept what others have said is true.  The apprehension of truth takes time and effort.  If this were not true, the world would have far fewer bigots.

The unexamined life is not only not worth living, it is scarcely a life at all. Sometimes the question is as important as the answer. It very often happens that one is like the proverbial fish in the bowl, not cognizant of the fact that he is swimming in water because there is no experience of otherness to create that awareness.

I was impressed by a very fine article “Is Astrology Permissible in Islam.” by Ugur Alkan, a freelance writer who holds a B.A. in Communication and an MBA in Management from Fort Hays State University, Kansas. The article is well written, but what attracted me most to the article was the stark boldness of the title in the form of a question. To some extent, this article is a response and dialogue with Alkan.

Alkan rightly points out at the beginning of the article that :

“Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, condemns fortune-tellers and praise genuine sciences. In The Holy Koran, Surah Al-Maida commands “Forbidden also is to use arrows seeking luck or decision; all that is disobedience of Allah and sin”Quran 5:3. In this case, the critical question involves the application of astrology. Is it used to find propitious times in our lives or to benefit as a helping profession in social and psychological sciences? According to some scholars in Sufism (Islamic Mysticism), astrology may be permissible in Islam because it is neither illusion nor demonic practice. Instead, astrology is based on statistical knowledge which motivates people for further research and comprehension of the human condition.”

The implication is that the two chief reasons for rejecting astrology are that it is either an illusion or else demonic. The first stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of how astrology works. Many have argued, for example, that the planets cannot possibly affect us because they are too far away. Even Jupiter’s gravity cannot reach us. The planets are just rocks in space. Usually, that’s where the investigation ends. However, the planets don’t ‘do’ anything to us.  The Quran also makes this plain. The celestial bodies are guides to the wise. The best analogy that comes to mind is that of a clock. The clock doesn’t ‘make’ time, but it can tell us what time it is. Those who seriously want to know how astrology can work will find scores of articles on this blog, dealing with that question in one way or the other

Imam Ali Conquers Jinn, unknown artist, Ahsan-ol-Kobar (1568) Golestan Palace

The demonic issue appears to be more complex in Islam than in the other Abrahamic religions because Islam includes the Jinn. One is not free to imagine there are no Jinn, any more than one is free to deny the existence of angels. These are elements of the Islamic faith. They are as much a part of Islam as who vastly outnumber humans and are invisible unless they choose to take a particular form. They are smokeless fire beings associated Iblis, the Islamic Lucifer. However, there are apparently many beneficial Jinns. The prophet Sulyman employed Jinn to great effect and this is celebrated in the Quran. They have also been associated with arts such as astrology. We are then faced with the situation of interrogating Hamlet’s ghost to determine whether the spirit is good or evil – a liar or a speaker of the truth. Although one might turn this into an impossible quest, thwarted at every step by the haunting possibility that a bad Jinn is deceiving us into believing it good, there is a way through. We can know what is good by what it produces. If true astrologers can provide medical insights, auspicious dates for doing anything from starting the building of Baghdad to planting celery, identifying areas of conflict between nations and between a brother and sister, we ought to rule out the agency of evil beings.

Jinn vastly outnumber humans and are invisible unless they choose to take a particular form. They are smokeless fire beings associated with Iblis and they can live for several hundred years.

However, there are beneficial Jinn. The prophet Sulyman employed Jinn to great effect and this is celebrated in the Quran. They have also been associated with arts such as astrology. We would otherwise be faced with the situation of interrogating Hamlet’s ghost to determine whether the spirit is good or evil – a liar or a speaker of the truth. Although one might turn this into an impossible quest, thwarted at every step by the haunting possibility that a bad Jinn is deceiving us into believing it good, there is a way through. We can know what is good by what it produces. There is nothing particularly different about this than things we do every day. A good recipe is judged by what the dish tastes like. If true astrologers can provide medical insights, auspicious dates for doing anything from starting the building of Baghdad to plating celery, identifying areas of conflict between nations and between a brother and sister, we ought to rule out the agency of evil beings. However, I’m in no position to deny that some forms of mediumship involving an alleged communication with spirits is mere fiction. Such is neither my expertise or interest.

Although one might turn this into an impossible quest, thwarted at every step by the haunting possibility that a bad Jinn is deceiving us into believing it good, there is a clear way through. We can know what is good by what it produces. If competent astrologers can provide invaluable medical insights, auspicious dates for doing anything from starting the building of Baghdad to planting celery, predicting the weather, identifying areas of conflict between nations and between a brother and sister, we ought to rule out the agency of evil beings.

In the Tasfir of Ibn Khatir – Imam Ahmad recorded from Az-Zubayr that he commented on the Ayah:

“A group of [Jinn] went towards Tihamah and found Allah’s Messenger while he was at a place called Nakhlah along the way to the `Ukaz market. He was leading his Companions in the Fajr prayer. When the Jinns heard the recitation of the Qur’an, they stopped to listen to it, and then they said: `By Allah! This is what has prevented you from eavesdropping on the news of the heavens.’ Then they returned to their people and told them: `Our people! We certainly have heard an amazing recitation (the Qur’an), it guides to the right path. So we have believed in it, and we will join none in worship with our Lord.’ So Allah revealed to His Prophet,”

﴿قُلْ أُوحِىَ إِلَىَّ أَنَّهُ اسْتَمَعَ نَفَرٌ مِّنَ الْجِنِّ

That the Quran was a revelation to both humans and the Jinn is a central element in Islamic thought. There is a very moving document from the 15th Century that has the animals of the world pleading to the King of the Jinn for humans to treat them better. There is a copy in the archives

Yet the Jinn are not be universally trusted by any means. There is an Islamic account, which might be apocryphal, that nevertheless holds a lot of weight. The story goes that angels get together to discuss the future, only to be overheard by evil Jinn who then corrupt the truth while leaving enough factual content to deceive the fortune teller and impress the querent.

The Stars and Human Temperaments – this model, derived from Greek sources, such as Galen and explains the theory that illustrates correlations between celestial bodies and human temperaments. This was well-received throughout the Islamic world.

“The word Jinn means “hidden” in Arabic. In The Holy Koran, they are described as being created from smokeless fire. Jinns are the descendants of Satan like Humans are descendants of Adam but most of them are very deceptive and dangerous for humans. When God has a certain event planned in our lives, he commands the angels to create the conditions to fabricate them. Before implementing God’s plan, Angels discuss this future event. In some cases, jinn sneaks up and overhear the future event and passes this information to the fortune-tellers through Tarot, I-ching or any other objects. Of course, the Jinns don’t intend to be favorable of humans; therefore, they muddle up the truth of future events with deception. As a result, the truthful events overheard from Angels are embellished with lies to cause confusion.” (Alkan).

Further to this view, we find a great deal of confirmation for credence in astrology as such:. “In Islamic teachings, every prophet was gifted with diverse miracles. Prophet Idris, also known as Enoch in the Old Testament, was blessed with his immense knowledge of heavenly sciences. As compared to modern science, he had a more complex knowledge of astronomy. Some Sufi schools consider him as the founder of the science of the stars, also called “ilm al nujum” in Arabic. Historical records illustrate his birth in Babylonia and his migration to Egypt later in life. History also collaborates that astrology was first born in Babylonia and then spread to Egypt. Prophet Idris was supposedly known to be the first person to educate mankind that living creatures are under the influence of cosmic rays.”

“In Islamic teachings, every prophet was gifted with diverse miracles. Prophet Idris, also known as Enoch in the Old Testament, was blessed with his immense knowledge of heavenly sciences. As compared to modern science, he had a more complex knowledge of astronomy. Some Sufi schools consider him as the founder of the science of the stars, also called “ilm al nujum” in Arabic. Historical records illustrate his birth in Babylonia and his migration to Egypt later in life. History also collaborates that astrology was first born in Babylonia and then spread to Egypt. Prophet Idris was supposedly known to be the first person to educate mankind that living creatures are under the influence of cosmic rays.” (Alkan)

Alkan then refers to modern horoscopes wherein the Sun is regarded as the only star and therefore the knowledge that belonged to the ancients is lost.  First of all, no serious astrology considers newspaper horoscopes as having anything to do with authentic astrology. True practitioners of the art pay a great deal of attention to fixed stars.

For some, this may be all the scriptural references to prophets such as Daniel and Enoch may be all they need to accept the halal relevance of reading the stars.  However, it is very difficult for many people to understand the difference between fortune telling and authentic astrology. In large part, the difference is not merely in the technique, but in the intent.  If I say we are in for a very cold winter because I have learned how to read the signs of nature, such as the curling of leaves or the activity of crows, I’m merely stating that this is what happens when these signs manifest. This kind of divination is common among people who interact with and live close to the natural nature. In fact, a Muslim colleague from Pakistan once told me that reading the stars is reading the signs of nature. If this is the case, astrology doesn’t differ much from meteorology. To refer to it as polytheistic is to completely misunderstand the nature of astrology.

But what if I say you will meet a man in a white suit on Sunday 21 August. He has brown eyes and you will marry him? Here, we have gone from reading the signs of nature and no matter what technique is used there are several problems.  We are talking about humans here and humans have choices to make. Even if this mas were to show up on this date in that suit, neither of you have indicated an interest in marriage. Can the reader be certain that the man won’t spill chocolate sauce over his suit, causing him to change it? The point here is that we are not really reading the signs of nature – I do not know of an astrologer who could predict with such personal detail, for a specific date. It is on these occasions that dark forces might be implicated, not only with Muslims but other belief systems as well. It is precisely because we cannot point to the action of crows of the entrance of a planet into a new sign, to explain the findings.

Muhammad Splits the Moon

A great deal is riding on the answer to the simple question “is astrology permitted in Islam.” This question ultimately goes far beyond astrology itself. There are very many sub-sects of Sunni and Shia Islam, There are many Muslims who insist that music is haram, yet music and dance are very much part of the Islamic legacy.

Some groups in Pakistan and Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, systematically destroy Sufi shrines or anything at all that could leave the impression that Sufism was ever a part of regional cultures. Islam has taken the Abrahamic hatred for idolatry to the most extraordinary heights, being seemingly unable to distinguish between the evocative value of art from the worship of idols at all. This was why the Bamiyan Buddhist statues were destroyed. It was considered a holy act and I think they were sincere, even if regrettably misguided. The world lost an extraordinary heritage site, going back to the Buddhist period of what is now called Afghanistan, but to a literalist who considers all religions but his own as idolatrous, their destruction was an act of piety.

The answer, if you get one at all, to the question: is astrology permissible in Islam will depend on who you ask, which source texts they consult and how they interpret them.  All three criteria are subject to a multitude of considerations. I have been in touch with various Islamic scholars over the years and while most will deny that Islam supports astrology, there have been a few that do. In all cases of those who rejected astrology, I found that they had a vastly different concept from me regarding what astrology actually is. Although there is a rich tradition of astrological use, including from highly respected Islamic sources. The fact that the timing of the construction of Baghdad was trusted to astrologers and that medicine was so inextricably connected to astrology appears to be better known outside of Islam than within it. Clerics differ wildly on many subjects, but with respect to astrology, polarized views are adamantine. Attempts to explain the true nature of astrology are mostly doomed before they begin. One of the fruitful paths is to show how astrology has been used by Muslims and particularly during what is considered the Golden Age of Islam.

Canopus the “Celestial Navigator.” – The star used for the orientation of the Kaaba. Canopus shines 1400 times brighter than our Sun.

Take for example the celebrated “Book of Wonders” by Zakarīyā ibn Muhammad al-Qazwīnī (circa 1203–83). He was a distinguished Iranian scholar who was conversant in poetry, history, geography, and natural history. He served as legal expert and judge in several localities in Iran and at Baghdad.  After traveling throughout Mesopotamia and Syria, he wrote his famous Arabic-language cosmography, ‘Aja’eb ol-makhluqat wa qara’eb ol-mowjudat (The wonders of creation, or literally, Marvels of things created and miraculous aspects of things existing).

This treatise has been translated into Persian, Turkish, and German and is concerned with subjects such as astrology, cosmology, and the natural sciences. The author was very fond of Pliny the Elder and other Greek classical works. as well as the rich sources then found in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and India.

“Book of Wonders” by Zakarīyā ibn Muhammad al-Qazwīnī (circa 1203–83).

This is but a drop in the ocean. Masters of several arts, like Ibn Sina,  born in what is now Uzbekistan, wrote voluminous medical works filled with thousands of pages of pharmacopeia and used even in Europe until a bit more than a hundred years ago. He was also an astrologer and he used this as an integral part of his medical practise.  He spoke several languages, was extraordinarily well versed in philosophy and theology among many other things. His correspondence with Al Biruni is extant and illuminating, for anyone wishing to get a deeper insight into the Islamic culture of the period.

There is a statement attributed to Hippocrates, although the written location of the quote remains a mystery. Nevertheless, it is by no means out of place with what we know about Greek humoral medicine. This was certainly taken to heart by Islamic translators of Hippocrates, Galen and others.: “A physician without a knowledge of astrology has no right to call himself a physician”  We can also look forward to Guido Bonatti and others who were instrumental in the transmission of Islamic astrological ideas and methodologies. Bonatti was a great influence on the English Astrologer, William Lilly, who in turn imparted medically relevant knowledge to Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654). Culpeper was a friend and student of the astrologer William Lilly who worked with Culpeper on the attribution of astrological characteristics of both herbs and the patients being treated. What is seldom mentioned is that Culpeper knew of Avicenna and had access to his work. Culpeper refers to this as “astrologo-physical discourse of the vulgar herbs.” In his most celebrated work on medicine, The English Physician (1652), Culpeper’s lays out the relationship between plants and astrological considerations in the service of medicine.

The uses of authentic astrology are immense and have been passed on for the most part in scrupulous detail. This is not to say that the tradition is a monolith that can never be changed. In the words of Gustav Mahler: “tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire. ” In this case, the tradition involves a number of disciples working together.  We need to be clear that astrology was “NOT a hobby you performed in your spare time. It required a very good grasp of mathematics, astronomy, and writing, among many other things. Ergo, something you would

definitely not encounter among the general populace, as it would have required academic studies proportionally arduous to what you’d find today- the content might have been different, but you’d have to learn critical thinking, defending your theories, and learn about all the available material that preceded their “modern” education.” (Sid Meier’s Civis.)

Abū-ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn-ʿAbdallāh Ibn-Sīnā [Avicenna]

Avicenna’s breadth of learning is extraordinary by any standard. His importance is summed up in this entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

“Avicenna synthesized the various strands of philosophical thought he inherited—the surviving Hellenic traditions along with the developments in philosophy and theology within Islam—into a self-consistent scientific system that explained all reality. His scientific edifice rested on Aristotelian physics and metaphysics capped with Neoplatonic emanationism in the context of Ptolemaic cosmology, all revised, re-thought, and critically re-assessed by him. His achievement consisted in his harmonization of the disparate parts into a rational whole, and particularly in bringing the sublunar and supralunar worlds into an intelligible relation for which he argued logically. The system was therefore both a research program and a worldview.”

Al Biruni spoke several languages, wrote an incredibly detailed and insightful book on the history, religion, and philosophies of India was also an extraordinay astrologer and is still studied today. There are dozens of others that can be cited, but this will not convince anyone who has decided that astrology is haram. Indeed, many of the most brilliant minds in Islam were accused of heresy and/or exiled.

Page from Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine – Courtesy of The National Library of Medicine

Muslims often opine that the decline in Islam is a result of not following the literal interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah closely enough. In light of the achievements realized when Islam was a relatively open religion, respecting and admiring, for example,  Classical, Indian and Persian antiquities, the appeal to fundamentalism as a cure for what ails Islam is not a case one can make without distorting history beyond recognition. The philosopher Al-Ghazali was rather like the Savonarola of Andalusia – except that Islam has not yet fully recovered from his eloquent but misguided call for literalism and fundamentalism, effectively closing the door on the extraordinary developments in Europe. If Averroes had won the debate, Islam would most likely have had its own Renaissance and Enlightenment. However, he lost and was sent into exile.

Of course, other religions, particularly some versions of Christianity have had their own iconoclasts and toters of pitchforks and torches, accusers and inquisitors. Even today I would wager that the vast majority of Christians would denounce astrology, if asked, only to check the horoscope in the newspaper because “it’s for entertainment only.” Few are aware that astrological ideas and imagery are woven into what was once called “high Church.” Many of the Popes had astrologers.

“Night Journey” attributed to Sultan Muhammad

This combined with a short survey of Qu’ran quotes will cause some to view astrology with an open mind and the rest will essentially go into a sort of denial. It’s very easy to find lists, for those interested.

Muhammad’s only son died at approximately age two and the passing coincided with a solar eclipse. Understandably, the father was stricken with grief, but he did something that might seem odd to us. He summoned all his companions.

“Prophet Muhammad wanted Arabs to eradicate the pre-Islamic era paganism and superstitious beliefs. Distraught by the death of his son, he gathered his community and told them that solar eclipse is an irrelevant event and does not occur in correlation to someone’s birth or death. The experience of Prophet Muhammad is considered proof that there is no celestial influence or synchronicity between such phenomenon and human events. ” (Alkan) This may well seem to contradict the Quran, but it does, in fact, agree with it. A single and fleeting astrological event like this shouldn’t be blamed on the eclipse.

The story of Muhamad urging his followers not to consider the eclipse as in any way related to the death of his son, because that is a pre-Islamic superstition isn’t a reason in itself  That is to say one cannot divine that something is a mere superstition just by saying so. The understanding and accurate forecasting of eclipses preceded Islam by thousands of years. The pre-Islamic astronomers were sophisticated enough to name and track the unfolding of saros cycles. At the same time, we are asked to believe that the prophet literally split the Moon into two pieces. We are also told that shooting stars (comets or meteorites) “are made as “lamps as missiles to drive away the shayatin (devils).” Al-Qur’an 67:5

 

Eclipse Lunar Moon phases and eclipse illustrated by the great tenth-century Persian scholar Al-Biruni.

For many years, I assumed that all Muslims took these stories as metaphors od a mystical experience as do I. The alternative is rife with problems, even more so than the Night Journey. The prophet literally flew to Jerusalem on the back of the buraq steed. met all the Abrahamic prophets and returned without being seen. Again, as a metaphor, it’s a wonderful story, but if I have no choice than to believe it’s literally true, that’s all well and good, but one cannot then claim a distaste for faith based on unverifiable facts.  It is impossible to ignore the fact that before and after the prophet, there was a highly evolved science of the stars that had precious little to do with superstition with demonstrative techniques and stunning accuracy.

I cannot help but think that Muhammad knew this. Perhaps the story has become corrupted over the years because the Quran is not so dismissive. Also, as a merchant, he had traveled a great deal and interestingly included the Chaldeans along with the People of Book. Abraham himself is said to have come from Ur of the Chaldees.  The name Chaldean is virtually synonymous with astrology and we still refer to the Chaldean order of the planets. The Chaldean star lore derived from Egypt, Persia, and India, but they no doubt influenced these cultures as much as they were informed by them. It is impossible to imagine that the prophet was unaware of the core of their beliefs of the Sabians (/ˈseɪbiənz/; Arabic: الصابئة‎‎ al-Ṣābiʼah or الصابئون‎ al-Ṣābiʼūn). The religious group is  mentioned three times in the Quran as a People of the Book: ie “the Jews, the Sabians, and the Christians”

“It is supposed that they influenced the practices of the Hellenic Theosebeis. While their angelology,  was based around the movements of the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. They found its greatest development in the community which was based in the Harran region of south-eastern Anatolia and northern Syria, who were distinguished as the Sabians of Harran from the south Mesopotamian Sabi’una Hunafa by later Islamic writers like Ibn al-Qayyim” (Creative Commons).  It isn’t unusual to think of the planets and luminaries as angels or messengers. Indeed, that is the most common understanding of the part they play in astrology among traditional astrologers from virtually all traditions.

Sabian “Star-Worshipers.”

The Sabians are a monotheistic religious group who worshiped in the names of stellar angels. This religion understandably became confused with the worship of the celestial bodies themselves, rather than their creator, as the dwellings or mansions of the powers above the visible orbs. Sabeanism was one of the archaic religions found all over the world in different forms.  In its origins,  Sabianism was undoubtedly a continuation of the rich tradition of star lore in the Middle East which go back to deepest antiquity. There was a later tradition that tells us that Muhammad was himself a Sabian before his conversion. The Sabians are monotheistic and the celestial world was of the utmost importance to all groups in the region and far beyond it. It is interesting that Canopus is used as the star of orientation regarding the Kaaba because the star is known as the Celestial Navigator. The greatest irony, of course, is that Muslims who consider astrology haram, really don’t know what it is.

The question of whether or not astrology is permitted in Islam, will, of course, be the decision of individual Muslims as well as sects of Islam. Nevertheless, from an objective point of view, the fact that astrology has been integral to the development of Islam and was used by its most brilliant proponents is compelling.  The Quran itself is replete with variations on the idea that the Stars are guides for the wise. Beyond that, I sympathize and understand potential problems in the misuse of astrology.

Jupiter and Mercury Conjunction Personified

The first part is the need for the discernment of spirits, as it is known in European cultures, but in fact emphasized by St. Paul. The true astrologer is conscious. The techniques take many years to learn, and much more to master, but in the end, one cannot dispel higher intuition out of the nexus.  One needs to be clear with potential clients who treat astrology as of it were a slot machine or something to enforce an illusion. Astrology is good and strong medicine, but like any medicine, the quality of the practitioner is the greatest consideration.

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Vernal Equinox & Nowruz 2015

Bas-relief in Persepolis, Fars province of Iran. A Zoroastrian symbol of Nowruz – on the vernal equinox the powers of the eternally fighting bull (personifying the Earth) and lion (personifying the Sun) are equal.  (Licence Wikipedia)

Bas-relief in Persepolis, . A Zoroastrian symbol of Nowruz – on the vernal equinox the powers of the eternally fighting bull (personifying the Earth) and lion (personifying the Sun) are equal. (Licence Wikipedia)

Nowruz is among the most ancient and significant astrologically based holy days celebration in the world. It began with Mithraism and Zoroastrianism and is still celebrated with zeal in several countries from Azerbaijan, Russia, Syria, Turkey , India and of course Iran. A repeating theme is the allegory of the balance of light and darkness illustrated by the bas-relief shown above. This is echoed in the celebration of Ostera or Easter which falls on the first Sunday after the first full Moon in Spring. It represents earthly fertility in the waxing day force as well as spiritual resurrection. What is above, is below.

The Aries Equinox chart is always of great significance, but here we have the confluence of a Solar Eclipse just hours before the Ingress, @ 29°27′ Pisces. This is a rare event and worthy of our close attention. This is a rare event and worthy of our close attention. We start with a reading of the chart of the year. The undisputed Lady of the Year is Venus in Taurus: Occidental, direct, free of the beams, in sect and of course in her domicile She protects from external enemies. .Mars is also in his domicile,in sect and in hiss house of Joy.and Aries is the Exaltation of the Sun. Noname1 The sixth house is the house of the common people in Mundane charts and here there are in a strong position, even with the unfortunate Moon in Aries. That leaves us with an unremarkable Mercury in Pisces, in his Fall but nicely placed by house and both Social Planets retrograde. Saturn in Sagittarius, Peregrine isn’t well placed at the best of times, but in the Second House income is seriously restricted and curtailed

This applies to the nation more specifically than to the individual. Jupiter in Leo, the domicile of the Sun occupies the Tenth House and is indicative of rulers, Although he enjoys some elemental sympathy from the Common People, we can say Jupiter is inflated and worst of all retrograde, symbolically moving away from the “throne.” The sympathy is amplified by the Sun in the Sixth House.This denotes the fall of a leader, Considering the pomp and circumstance of Leo, this may very well refer to a prominent member of the aristocracy or Royal Family. Noname2a The video below shows the progress and visibility of the eclipse. Eclipses affect most those nations and cities that fall under the sign of the eclipse as well as where it is visible. This would include Egypt, Normandy, North Africa, Portugal and Scandinavia.  My primary focus is on the United Kingdom and those places in the same time zone and visibility of the eclipse although much of what I have to say would apply in a lesser extent to Europe, Western Russia and  the Piscean nation of Egypt, the latter of course in a very volatile state. The time if the eclipse at GMT falls ominously in the 10th House. It`s almost as if the eclipse sets the stage for the fall of the *monarch* Jupiterean Pisces turns off the lights while Saturn holds the Seventh House.  It isn’t hard to read this fairly literally.  We could say that the strong Mars in the Eleventh House lends support to the Tenth, but with the S, Node and really no mitigating elements, it might very well do more harm than good.

The significance of an Eclipse is in the larger picture of the nation or nations rather than on the lives of individuals specifically, but of course whatever affects the nation will affect the people, sometimes in major ways and more often in ways that are not immediately detected. If you celebrate only one or two things a year, the Vernal Equinox is highly significant – the forces of darkness and light are balanced with the forces of light, with the Sun waxing in the Sign of his exaltation.

Shah Tahmasp I and Humayun. Novrouz festival From Chehel Sotoun Palace, Isfahan. Artist unknown. C. 1820

Shah Tahmasp I and Humayun. Novrouz festival From Chehel Sotoun Palace, Isfahan. Artist unknown. C. 1820

A Time for Kali – The Indian Rebellion of 1857

Kali and Bhairava - terrible form of Shiva -  in_Union 18th C. Nepal

Kali and Bhairava – terrible form of Shiva – in_Union 18th C. Nepal

This has been a difficult article to write for many reasons. First of all, there is the scope and length of the subject matter. One can hardly do justice to a war by reading a single chart.. However, the beginning of a war, the initial attack can be read which will, in the process, give us the essence of the larger conflict. I have therefore elected to read the chart for the time of the beginning of the fomenting hostilities in Meerut The explosions occurred later in the day, but we cannot call that the beginning hardly’ There had, after all, been 20 acts of arson and the bazar had become frenzied – full of passionate intensity.

Secondly, the subject matter is particularly gruesome. It is as if Kali were unleashed to kill all indiscriminately. The was no mercy and in fact when a group of survivors were offered safe passage by what were believed to be sympathetic Indians, it turned out to be a trap. The survivors were set afloat and the boats set on fire.

Kali is a goddess of some complexity, but I doubt she has ever been accused of rationality or peaceful resolutions. Hers are primal and chthonic powers. She is known as the goddess of empowerment. She is the consort of the wrathful form of Shiva, who has been fairly compared to Dionysus by A. Danielou in Shiva and Dionysus (1984) The Hindu texts tell us that when she first entered the world, she killed everyone,  driven by blood lust and revenge, unable to stop the slaughter once it had begun. To suggest that she represents the Indians alone in the uprising would be too simplistic, but we can certainly say it was a time for Kali.

Jahangir_investing_a_courtier_with_a_robe_of_honour_watched_by_Sir_Thomas_Roe,_English_ambassador_to_the_court_of_Jahangir_at_Agra_from_1615-18,_

Jahangir investing a courtier with a robe o honour watched by Sir Thomas Roe English ambassador to the court of Jahangir at Agra from 1615-18,_

The British East India Company had been chartered by Elizabeth I in 1600 and formed a treaty with the Mughuls under Nuruddin Salim Jahangir (r. 1605–1627. India was not yet part of the British Empire and wouldn’t be for centuries. However, the company required an armed force, 80% of which was made up of native Indians

In some respects the essence of the conflicts seem modern – human versus religious rights imposed by an occupying force. The hegemony of the British was at the very heart of the matter At the centre of indigenous fears were the rights of women, It is not unlike the attempts of western groups to stamp out female circumcision, child marriages and the privation of an education. The British had banned Sati, where a Hindu wife is burned alive in the husbands funeral pyre. They had outlawed female

Family group of Thugees  (Robbers). The Indian thugs kill people by strangling them with their long kerchiefs which they carry on their shoulders.

Family group of Thugees (Robbers). The Indian thugs kill people by strangling them with their long kerchiefs which they carry on their shoulders.

infanticide and passed laws enabling Indian women to own property or get a divorce.  Even today, there are countries which will not permit a woman to drive a car.  In some instances,  it is virtually impossible not to have sympathies for both sides of a conflict; but today we have Boku Haram and the Taliban, both violently opposed to education for women and enforcing their brutal mentality through slavery and massacres while insisting they are acting in conformity with their religion.

For most of us this goes far beyond any concerns for religious freedom. Violent denial of the most basic rights isn’t something we can simply accept, even if we know we are powerless to change things in the short run. However we decide to act, it is imperative to understand that for many people the attempt to better the lives of women is seen as a religious attack.

The British had also brought 400 years of Moghul rule to an end. Orthodox Hindus or Muslims thought the traditional ways were being seriously challenged. William Wilberforce had pressed for a particular system of ethics which was alien to the Indians.

The Company had been rapacious in Bengal. Lands for which there was no legitimate heir could be subsumed into British India. There were unpopular revenue policies. Of course the humiliation of being governed by a foreign power contributed to the Rebellion. Indian aristocracy more than anyone else feared the changing society.

Bahadur_Shah_II_of_India - "the last Moghul"

Bahadur_Shah_II_of_India – “the last Moghul”

“The pretext for revolt was the introduction of the new Enfield rifle. To load it, the sepoys had to bite off the ends of lubricated cartridges. A rumour spread among the sepoys that the grease used to lubricate the cartridges was a mixture of lard and beef tallow.; thus, to have oral contact with it was an insult to both Muslims and Hindus. There is no conclusive evidence that either of these materials was actually used on any of the cartridges in question. ” (Indian Mutinee. Encyclopaedia Britannica).

There were also far more wide sweeping issues that had brought about the Rebellion Some Hindus were concerned that he British were undermining the caste system and one could in fact lose caste if their lips touched the flesh of the sacred cow, even if done in ignorance.  If the rumour had been correct both Hindu and Muslim would  expect retribution in this life and the next. The Sepoys were soon offered the older cartridge design for their rifles to allay their fears, but only a tiny fraction of them accepted them. It was so much more than cartridges. In the final analysis, the greatest concern was the fear of a Christianized and Anglicization India. We can say this was a religious war in that sense.

Sepoy C, 1857

Sepoy C, 1857

There are many excellent sources for the background of this nightmare. I particularly recommend The Last Moghul by William Dalrymple (Bloomsbury 2006) and Heaven’s Command by James Morris (Folio 1992) I have also added two videos below, that give a reasonable overview of an epically complex scenario.

Although the event has been called a mutinee, it was so much more than that. First of all, it was one of several mutinees, ignited for a variety of reasons and characterized by extreme brutality of mythic proportions. When all had settled down, there was a new social order and power structure and ironically, the mutinee lead to India becoming a part of the British Empire – The jewel in the crown. The last Moghul was pensioned off by the British and sent to Burma, where he died shortly thereafter.

The mutiny soon escalated into other mutinies and civilian rebellions largely in the upper Gangetic plain and central India, with the major hostilities confined to present-day Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, northern Madhya Pradesh, and the Delhi region

indianmutinymap

After Sunday Church services on 10 May 1857 in the cantonment of the town of Meerut, the inhabitants could not have imagined the horror to come. Meerut was not a military outpost per se.  It had minimal defences and there were women and children living there wh0 had been thought secure. It was like a barracks with family quarters.

There is no source fir the exact time for the beginning of hostilities , but by referring to other events I feel confident with this chart for 10.40 am. I f we turn to the chart, we find that it is at once quite literal and richly mythological at the same time .Picture2

The Lord of the Geniture is the Sun, the Lord of the Ascendant  Jupiter in Aries in the Ninth House is Almuten Figuris, ,Lord of the Eighth and in a Martian Sign. Jupiter is Peregrine. That could very well indicate many deaths with a religious causation, If we take the Leo Ascendant to be the British, the Solar Lord of the Ascendant is bringing the force of Algol or in this case Kali to bear on their lives.

The Ninth House informs the Tenth and the Eleventh House provides the support, What we find in the Tenth is truly extraordinary. The Lord of the Tenth is a strong Mercury in Gemini. The planets and luminary are all in Taurus, but Venus is Cazimi and both she and the Sun are conjunct Algol. The Sun is also Peregrine. Moreover, Venus is retrograde and transferring her light to Mars. It is just past Full Moon and the last Planetary Aspects made by the Moon is an opposition to Mars, she is also parallel the Fixed Star Facies, denoting ruthlessness.

Perseus from al-Sufi

Perseus from al-Sufi

Algol has the most malicious reputation and always seems to deliver what is promised – losing one’s head, often literally and significant of piled up corpses according to the Chinese. This is the eye of Medusa, the ultimate demonic star. More often than not, we will find Algol in the charts of extreme disasters. The hidden enemy is represented by Saturn in the Twelfth House, disposited by the Moon and conjunct the Fixed Star, Sirius — indicating searing heat.  Saturn is Lord of the Seventh House of open enemies. The attack was in the form of explosions and fires everywhere

The S. Node is in the House of the Goddess in Venusian Libra and the N. Node in the same sign as Jupiter. This is a volatile and violent chart and also one in which the power of the Feminine is overwhelming.

Perhaps in a later article, we might explore other charts for the myriad of events of the great rebellion , but for now we have what I would call the chart of its essence

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.

The Rise of Hassan Rouhani

Hasan Rohani

Hassan Rouhani

Hassan Rouhani is an Iranian politician, Shia Mujtahid, lawyer, academic and diplomat, who is currently the president-elect of Iran. He is viewed as politically moderate. He was elected as President of The Islam Republic of Iran, running as the only ‘moderate’ in the campaign, replacing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Telegraph (07 03 13) quoted him as saying a “strong government does not mean a government that interferes and intervenes
in all affairs. It is not a government that limits the lives of people.” He has also called for an end to internet filtering and undue censorship that would allow a critical press to report the ills of life in Iran as well as her triumphs.

The time of birth isn’t available for either men, but I calculated a rectification for Ahmadinejad  that has continued to fit for the last seven years. I have done the same with the chart of Rouhani. The two birthdates and times are 26 October 1956 at Gamsar, Iran. 12.30 pm and 13 November 1948 in Sufian, Iran at 1.06 pm respectively.

However there is less verifiable information regarding Rouhani at the present time. This means there isn’t a great deal to be gained by an abundance of in-depth analysis, but we can certainly gain a fair sketch of what to expect from him. In the strictest sense this is an informed but speculative piece. The days and locations are solidly verified

For now, I’m intrigued by the similarities and differences between these two men born eight years apart. I hope this will engender fruitful discussion on these issues. The emphasis however will be on Rouhani.

Hassan Rohani

Most obviously both men are Sun sign Scorpios. Both have Saturn as Lord of the Ascendant and Venus in the Ninth House. But these apparent similarities can be misleading.

If I’m correct in the timing of this chart, Venus is very strong in her own Sign of Libra. The Moon however, in the House of her Joy is applying to an opposition to Venus. They are in the House of God and the Goddess respectively.

Saturn is not only the Lord of the Ascendant, ruling from the Eighth House,  but in Sextile with Mercury in Scorpio with the Sun in the Tenth House. Interesting though, the MC is in the Eleventh Whole Sign House. Jupiter is in his own sign of Sagittarius and with Mars in the same Sign.

Mars with Jupiter signals bravery and in the Eleventh House of those who support him. However, this is less the case with Jupiter in the Anorectic degree according to Bonatti. Jupiter is greatly restrained putting the emphasis on the Martial side of the equation.

He is currently in his Mars – Sun Fidar which is a place of strength considering the condition and placement of his Sun and Mars. In November he will enter  his Mars – Venus Fidar, accentuating his Third and Ninth House Axis

Hassan_Rouhani_childhood

Looking at the Fixed Stars in Rouhani’s chart, we find a well placed power house. Regulus is parallel the North Node. Sirius is parallel the Ascendant and conjunct the Part of Fortune. Mercury is parallel Spica and the MC is conjunct Antares. There are no retrograde planets and the Part of Fortune in the Sixth House This gives him what it takes to be a strong leader and gifted speaker, with overall support from the people, as shown by the Sixth House . Yet his Signs of Eminence according to Vettius Valens are fairly scanty.  The Sun is Fixed and Angular, but both Venus and Mercury rise before the Sun, with Mars and Jupiter are occidental

Profection - Annual- Election_ Results

Annual Profection Chart for Rouhani

Jupiter is the lord of the Geniture. However, with Mars as chart Almuten combined with the strong Saturn signature, including both Hour and Day, we see something of the steel fist in the velvet glove.

Above is the Annual Profection Chart for Rouhani, set for the day of the election results, just one day after the actual elections. Venus is auspiciously in the Ninth House of God in the Sign of her Exaltation. The Sun is Exalted is Aries in the Tenth House and reflects his Mars-Sun Fidar. . The Gemini Ascendant is Disposited by Mercury in his Fall. This mutability speaks to Housani’s political positions, being flexible and moveable.  It also weakens the Ascendant because of the Sign and position of Mercury. Mars and Jupiter in Taurus in the Eleventh House weakens those who would assist, but not the extent of immediate catastrophe. It is a relief to dissociate Saturn with the Ascendant. The Moon is Void of Course which is likely to effect the connection he has with the people to some extent

Although both Rouhani and Ahmadinejad have Saturn for Lord of the Ascendant, we would have to say that the latter’s Saturn is more problematic because he is not at ease in Sagittarius. He is however in his Joy in the Twelfth House, but I don’t see how this is beneficial to the Ascendant. Having the Lord of the Ascendant in the Eighth House is perhaps the weakest and most troubling placement in Rouhani’s chart. When we consider the Planetary Lots, we find Mars sharing the Eighth House. This doesn’t bode well, as we now see a strong threat to his life.

Ahmadinejad has Venus in the Ninth, but rather than in her Dignity as in Rouhani’s chart, she is in her Fall. Rouhani is also unlikely to have the same conflicts with clerics. His Moon is Peregrine and Void of Course, squaring the Nodes. Overall his chart is a good one for a servant, but not a leader.

These are but a few things to contemplate and reflect upon. It is exceedingly unlikely that the birth times of either of the men will become available. I hope that my rectifications are reasonably accurate

Ahmadinejad

Venus & the Cube in Arabian Cosmology

Venus-from-Wonders-of-Creation

Venus – from Wonders of Creation

When we read the works of astrologers from other times and cultures we tend to feel we have a lot in common with them. For example, it is natural to assume that Venus has the same qualities and associations in our lineage. Some accommodations are made, but we don’t expect radical departures. The fact is that Venus is mutifaceted, one might even say protean, in Arabian cosmology. Venus is also closely related to the Moon, in ways we may not expect.

It is well known by Traditional Astrologers, particularly those working in Mundane astrology, that Islam is under the governance of Venus. This is an ancient association which has been transmitted to us by both Muslim and non Muslim scholars.

What is not be so commonly known is that the importance of Venus preceded the inception of Islam by thousands of years in the Middle East. Ptolemy divided the four directions by triplicity.

The one that would cover the Middle East and Central Asia, including what is now Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan is made up of “Taurus, Virgo and Capricornus in southeastern, and again is governed primarily by Venus on account of the south wind, but conjointly by Saturn because of the east wind. ” (Tetrabiblos II 3)

The addition of Saturn is an important element here. So is the fact the exaltation of the Moon is Taurus and Venus the dispositor of Taurus

The tradition of worshiping Venus was widespread in ancient Arabia, where 360 gods and goddesses were adored. The Kaa’ba contained 360 idols which were eventaually destroyed by Muhammad. Venus’s special day of the

Platonic Solids

Platonic Solids

week is Friday and the form of this goddess is a cube, which is the sacred form for Arabs . This doesn’t correspond with the Platonic Solids, as understood by Kepler, but the source appears to be Ancient Middle Eastern and long preceding Plato or Pythagoras.

“Plato argued that each of the elements could be thought of as being composed of the first four solids – the tetrahedron was fire, the cube was earth, the octahedron was air, and the dodecahedron was water. The final solid, the icosahedron, was applied to the “heavenly sphere” upon which rested all of the stars and planets.” (Isaac M. McPhee. Platonic Solids) In other words, the solids primarily relate to elements rather than planets

Historical evidences show that in the late third millennium BC, worshiping mother goddesses was common in Iran, India, Central Asia, Mesopotamia, Syria, North Africa, and Europe

One of the first things that caught my eye on seeing footage of the Haj many years ago, was the participants circumambulating the Kaaba in an anti clockwise direction. This is highly unusual and in most traditions considered very harmful.

Counter Clockwise Circumambulation of the Kaaba

Counter Clockwise Circumambulation of the Kaaba

The act of moving counter-clockwise is said to provoke or upset the natural course of the world – it went against the natural order  From this comes havoc, destruction, and in general negative and unfortunate this to happen. Although we find this knowledge in the oldest Pagan sources, clockwise movement came as a natural element to Christianity, perhaps because of its association with Solar Cults, including Zoroastrianism.

directions

In The Great Triad , Rene Guénon demonstrates two points of possible orientations. (i.e. Polar in Fig 13 and Solar in figure 14)  “the first direction is one of the stars turning about the Pole when one looks North” the second is oriented to the Sun when looking South (50,51) The second is by far the most common.

All other visible planets in our Solar System rotate in a counter clockwise motion.  Certainly it would be impossible to view the direction of the orbit of Venus even with telescopes because of the planet’s extremely dense atmosphere.

Her rotation is virtually stationary, with the her day being longer than her year. She takes 243 days to turn once on her axis and almost 225 days to travel once around the Sun in orbit

Mohammed_Splits_the_Moon

Mohammed_Splits_the_Moon Anonymous 16th-century watercolor from a Falnama, a Persian book of prophecy. Muhammad is the veiled figure on the right.

There is no specific Qu’ranic reference to the best of my knowledge which would require this counter clockwise movement. However, Muhammad advised on many issues, ranging from how to cut one’s beard to making adoption unlawful. In virtually every case, he is concerned about  doing everything in the opposite way to “the Pagans.”

It’s has also been suggested that moving in anticlockwise direction goes against time and revives the Sunnah of the prophet Ibrahim and of course, Muhammad.

The Kaaba’s keystone is a meteorite set in what looks like female genitalia. The meteorite is essentially round, so there is no structural reason for this choice of setting.  This harks back to pre-Islamic times as does Ramadan and much else. The participants at the Haj are ideally to kiss the meteorite and if that isn’t possible, they are to point at it each time they circumambulate the Kaaba.

The Kaaba was home to 360 idols. Different families would worship different idols. For Muhammad’s family it was Allah. His father was named Abdulalla which means Slave of Allah. Of course it’s no coincidence that the number of idols is the number of degrees in the zodiac

This meant that Mecca’s income came largely from pilgrims visiting and worshiping the idols while spending money on the process .  This was an early source of conflict between Muhammad and the Meccans.

The site of the Kaaba itself is celestially aligned. : ” the structure holding the black stone is offset from the Cardinal Directions so that one wall is to the line connecting the Winter Solstice sunset to the Summer Solstice sunrise. The other side of the building faces towards the horizon and the rising of Canopus ”  (Penprase. Power of Stars. p.209)  This sets the direction of prayer for Muslims worldwide.17157blackstonedivein

“The southwest orientation, dissimilar to other recorded temples in southwest Arabia, conforms to the Babylonian ancestral practice of an axis diagonal to the cardinal points. The raised platform style of the building seems derived, probably indirectly, from Babylon” (Natan 33)

The goddess Nahid, for example, is “alternately the wife, the sister or the mother of god. However, when she is the wife and mother of god, her symbol is the moon, and when she represents the goddess of love and music, the planet Venus.” (Mohammad Sadeq Nazmi Afshar. Nahid, Mother of Gods 2013) In effect, the Arabs took the Moon god Sin, a male god of war. Over time, Venus replaced the Moon, while absorbing his qualities.

An Armenian myth says: “the devil knew that if the god had intercourse with his mother, the sun would be born, and if with his sister, the moon would be born.” (ibid)

Muhammad is said to have literally split the Moon as a sign that he was a true prophet. I now wonder if the message isn’t also that the Moon god is giving way to another. Today, the vast majority of Muslim nations use the Crescent, with or without Venus. But this association only came with the Ottoman Turks

However, Islam subscribes to a Lunar Calendar. The Lunar cycle is 28 days and so very naturally associated with the menstrual cycle.

The goddess in her various names and guises is ubiquitous. Venus and Inanna are both what are known as dying and resurrecting deities: this death and rebirth myth is a product of simple observational astronomy.  This is true in all cultures of observation and they are remarkably similar in their interpretations. Vedic astrologers Hart De Fouw and Robert E. Svoboda write of Venus:

“Sukr, [Venus] which has a 584-day cycle of visibility, appears as both the Morning Star and the Evening Star. In between these periods of visibility, each of which lasts about 263 days, come 2 periods of invisibility, during which Sukr is conjunct with Surya. When Sukr, as the Evening Star, moves toward its solar conjunction, it ‘sets’ in the sky — it appears lower and lower each night until that fateful night when it fails to appear at all, swallowed up by Surya, who may be identified here with Lord Shiva. Both Surya and Shiva represent the Universal Soul.”( Light on Life: An Introduction to the Astrology of India p.6)

Details may differ, but the core myth is always there. The amount of interaction between India, Persia and the Arabs may not have been massive, but is very well documented

In his twenty year study, Dr. Rafat Amari writes : “we know that the term “Allah,” as the god of the moon, was derived from the Thamud god of the moon. His name was Hilal, or Hlal, which means “crescent.” Later, the name “Hilal” became Hilah, as we see in many inscriptions which were found in Arabia. In the Thamud inscriptions he is found as H-ilah, Ha-ilah and H-alah. We see the same development for “Hilah,” the moon deity in Yemen, where Almaqah is called “Halal,’ or “Hilal, the Crescent.

Safaitic tribes were nomads wandering in many parts of Arabia, especially in the north. The god of the moon was found in their inscriptions as “H-lah.” in the Safaitic inscriptions, the letter “H” pronounced as “Ha” is the definite article, “the.” It corresponds to the Arabic, “Al.”16 This led the Arabians to call him “Al-lah.” The big Star Athtar – Venus – Replaces the Moon for the Title of “Allah”” (The ‘Trinity’ in Islam p. 8)

sabians-or-star-worshippers-iraq

sabians-or-star-worshippers-iraq

This is intriguing, but I’m not convinced it’s perfectly true on all counts. Neither can I be absolutely certain of his intent. Apologists abound, as is the case with much of the studies on this subject. However, his contention that the Sabians did have a Moon god and that Islam practices the same style and number of daily prayers,  prostration, fasting for 30 days in observance of the Moon (Ramadan) and wear long white robes is well documented. Sabians are mentioned by name in the Qu’ran as a group that was on a righteous path and should have no fears. ( see Sūrat l-Baqarah 2:62 – 7 Quran. Trans M.A.S. Abdel Haleem – Oxford)

Sabians  were known “as “Star Worshippers.”  Both Jewish and Islamic sources claim that Abraham was himself a star worshiper, and there is a mutual story told that after contemplating the setting of Sun and the Moon, he came to the conclusion that there must be one God.” ( Kemal Menemencioglu @  http://www.hermetics.org/Sabians_of_Harran.html )

Black Rock form Paphos - Temple of_Aphrodite

Black Rock form Paphos – Temple of_Aphrodite

The ancient  Sumerian Moon God, Sin was male and this association was carried over to the pre Islamic cultures in the Middle East .Arabs, particularly insofar as he was a god of war. One of the names of Venus is Lucifer, which we usually consider as masculine.

You will notice that Arab and Muslim representations of Venus do not always have feminine characteristics. The attributes are primarily love, music and finery. But the procreative and fertility attributes of say Ishtar or Aphrodite are still given to Venus.  If she is the replacement for Sin, presumably she would also have war as an attribute

Although Ptolemy was looking at the Middle East and Central Asia when assigning Venus as the significator, the eventual Arab influence on the entire region  is staggering. At the most basic level, Arabic is considered the only fully legitimate language of the Qu’ran, in spite of the fact that it pre-dates Classical Arabic and was more likely written down in Syrio Aramaic.

Ptolemy couldn’t possibly have anticipated just how accurate his association would become. Some will consider this a dilemma, but it doesn’t need to be. I think this knowledge is crucial, particularly in Mundane astrology. It is most helpful though to consider the meaningful differences between the Western Classical and Arabian Venus, not least because of the association with the Moon.

Muhammad with Meterorite

Muhammad (?) with Meterorite