Battle of Carthage (698)

Eclipses are endlessly fascinating and there are a few ways to interpret them. This particular eclipse is extraordinarily dramatic and the visual impact, mapped is rich in significance both during the period of the eclipse but also the events augered by its duration and place of maximum eclipse.

What is generally known as The Battle of Carthage was fought in 698 between a Byzantine expeditionary force and the armies of the fifth Umayyad Caliphate. There were, in fact, several battles s in Carthage over the centuries, but one of them was decisive and the wreckage became part of the Caliphate.

One might expect such an occurrence to have generated details for posterity.  The fact is that the battle of Carthage in 698 AD JC. was a complete demolition.  The Arab general, Hasan ibn al-Nu’man  was annoyed that he had to defeat the Carthaginians twice. There was no thought of settling in the city under the Caliphate,. The city was razed to nothing after a siege. The harbours were filled with dirt and rocks, the fields burned, all farms, crop and livestock were killed. Even the aqueducts which supplied the city with its only fresh water supply were demolished.

The most curious element from an astrological point of view is that the eclipse that one might naturally associate with the event actually occurred at the end of the year, 08 December 698. Nevertheless, I’m pleased that this eclipse brought my attention to the events because it soon becomes evident that the battle of Carthage, while certainly not the only victim of the Islamic Caliphate, was more like the root than the flower in terms of a sequence. With a duration of 10m28s and a path of visibility that reaches modern-day Kazakhstan, we need to look at what ensues and not only at what has passed.

Considering the Chart of the Year preceding the battle of Carthage, we find that the Sun exalted in Aries is the Lord of the Year. However, Mars himself is Peregrine and conjunct Saturn. The Libra Ascending makes Carthage the weaker partner in conflict and the Lady of the Ascendant is Venus in the 8th house of Death. The ‘ordinary’ people of the 6th house have an exalted Jupiter as their Lord, but the Jupiter conjunction with the N. Node is not auspicious.

The duration of the eclipse was 10.5 minutes, which translates to 10,5 years of influence,  The Arab siege of Carthage marked the end of Christianity in the Atlas Mountains countries of North Africa. Carthage was the centre or capital city of the ancient Carthaginian civilization, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now the Tunis Governorate in Tunisia. But the work was not yet finished. The waves of Arab and Berber invasions had no intention of backing down or holding back. They wanted not only North Africa, but also the Iberian Peninsula.

If we study the events surrounding the incursion of Berber-Arab armies into the Iberian peninsula in 709-10, we find that this leads to Muslim domination of the region that would last 800 years. Witness the fateful Battle of Guadalete and the Arabs’ advance north, and consider both the immediate legacy of the invasion and its overall impact on European history.

This brief article attempts to consider a relevant and very striking eclipse that not only augers for events several years into the future but also describes current events. Time is, of course, a continuum. When we examine celestial events such as this, an understanding of history is crucial. The complete destruction of the historically important city. Carthage is one part of an even larger event. With the conquering of the Iberian Peninsula, the final presentation of the Byzantium Empire was finished in North Africa and most of the Meditteranean. This displacement by the Caliphate would have momentous influence not only on the region but on Western Civilization as a whole. Out of the extreme violence, Islam and Europe would exchange ideas for a very long time.

The Sino-Vietnamese War of 1799 – I

6th Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. Portrait by Castiglione (1688-1766) an Italian, formerly known as Giuseppe Gassilionio, who was systematically trained as a young student and has solid artistic knowledge

The Qing dynasty (1644–1912) was the last imperial dynasty of China. It was officially founded in 1636 in what is now Northeast China,. The dynasty had been successful in most respects and was wealthy, relatively stable and feeling secure within the confines of the Middle Kingdom and beyond.

On 08 August  1775, there was an impressive Annular Solar Eclipse, the path of which was easily seen in Southern China, Hong Kong and Macau, then continued across Vietnam on its way to the eastern regions of the Bay of Bengal. Probably the most striking feature was its relatively long duration, estimated to be more than 4 mins.

If we look towards 1779, four years later, there were momentous events which are some of the most remarkable in military history. Moreover, what happened is sometimes compared to the Tet offensive in the Viet Nam War of the 1960s and early 1970s. While they are not by any means identical, the similarities between the two events, separated by nearly 170 years, are striking.

The Tet offensive on January 30, 1968, was launched by combatants of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese People’s Army of Vietnam directed at the South Vietnamese Army, the United States Armed Forces, and their allies. It was a campaign of surprise attacks against military and civilian command and control centres throughout South Vietnam. The name of the offensive comes from the Tết holiday, the Vietnamese New Year when the initial large-scale attacks took place.

In part, this article follows a conversation with a fellow traditional astrologer, regarding the validity of the expected range of influence derived by the length of the eclipse itself. Here, we would expect some sign that eclipse was indeed a portent of a given event or not.

Let’s examine the details of the eclipse. It passes over very few countries, over the open Pacific Ocean, until it hits Taiwan, Hong Kong and South China. It then passes over Hanoi. Mundane astrologers sometimes use the astrological chart either of the dates of foundation for the city or else the quality assigned to a region by Classical sources. We don’t have any Western sources for historical Hanoi or North Viet Nam. What we are given is a variety of dates based on modern occurrences, such as political events. Clearly, this would be useless when considering the Vietnam of the late 18th century.

I chanced upon a Vedic source which looks to be promising and the author states that North Vietnam/Hanoi is under Aquarius/Shatbhisa and China is under Taurus/Kritika. You can find the complete list and the explanation of how the signs are derived at  Rta Swar  (ॠत_स्वर)  Let’s proceed with this in mind and see how it plays out in a major conflict with China.

 

The chart is for the Hour of Mars and the Day of Jupiter. The Sun is in his Joy in the 9th House. The charts Almuten is the Moon in Cancer. The first clue is that Taurus (China) is in the 7th House of open enemies and the Lord of Taurus is in the  8th House of Death in a Mercurial Sign with Saturn. From this alone, we can see the potential threat to the established order Vietnam may be interpreted by the MC in Virgo.  Jupiter is Lord of the Ascendant in a weak sign and retrogrades in the 4th House. opposing Venusian Taurus. The symbolism of the empty house is hard to ignore, even if there is no precise astrological consideration that covers this situation.

 

Map of Vietnam 1829 (?)

The Lord of the Ascendant is in his Fall in Cancer and the string of the eclipse planets in the Ninth House is a heady mix.

“In the middle of the night on January 25, Quang Trung’s force took the outpost at Son Nam in Nam Dinh province defended by the Le king’s followers, who had been celebrating the New Year. It then rapidly seized one after another of the forts defending access to the capital. On the third day of Tet, January 28, the Tay Son surrounded the important post of Ha Hoi, some 20 kilometres southwest of the capital. Caught off guard, the Chinese defenders there surrendered with their arms and supplies.” (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/vietnam/history#72278).

The Chinese forces must have been in a state of complete shock. The Vietnamese strengthened their defences using trenches, minefields, pit trap and bamboo stakes concealed by straw and anything else that would conceal the pits.

Summer Solstice – 2018

 

Here’s wishing my readers, friends. family, colleagues and clients a blessed Summer Solstice! This is a time of celebration and contemplation no matter what your path may be.  This chart is set for Greenwich Mean Time, so this chart can also be used to suggest, particularly for the next three months, the mood and tendencies for this particular time zone.

This festival has a great variety of expressions around the world, but it is always a Solar festival. This is the day when the Sun is at it’s strongest, in the sense that it is the longest day and thus the shortest night. From now on, we slowly begin to turn inwards, having basked in the light and warmth of the Sun

A man jumps over a bonfire during festivities marking Ivan Kupala Day, a pagan summer solstice celebration, in the village of Fadino on the Irtysh River in 2017. PHOTOGRAPH BY DMITRY FEOKTISTOV, TASS,

This is the Cancer Ingress. In the chart posted you will find that in most respects it is favourable. The Sun is in the House of the Good Spirit with Mercury, Mars is in his Joy in the 6th House.. like a tiger in a cage, he is restrained from doing great harm but is also well placed for surgery or other forms of healing that require any kind of incision,.

Venus in Leo is not well-placed in the 12th but is otherwise in fair condition, with some caution regarding the opposition to Mars. She disposits the Venusian Moon in Libra. Both of the Superior (Social) Planets are retrograde and considering that Jupiter is in Scorpio. he is restrained from doing what he does best.

 

The Lingering Mystery of the 911 Prediction

For many people, the events of 9/11 are considered clear and fully explained. Whether these people are in the majority is another question, Still, I have no intention of addressing the still-mounting number of theories, except to point to the level of uncertainty, the improbable nature of much of the official story and the vast array of alternate theories about what happened on that bright September day in New York 17 years ago.

It should, however, be borne in mind that whoever was the mastermind of the attack has not been revealed to this day. That in itself is a great mystery since the usual purpose of such attacks id to draw attention to a specific cause or to exact some form of an ultimatum. This was hitherto the way terrorist attacks worked. They usually conveyed a specific threat, yet to be delivered, or involved the taking of hostages to be used for leverage during bargaining. Anonymous terrorist attacks were virtually unheard of before the events on 9/11 in New York. We do know that Osama bin Laden stated that he admired the attack but couldn’t take credit for it.

The astrological community was quick to tally who had been able to predict the event, with many saying it would be impossible to predict the precise date and the exact place. To the best of my knowledge, nobody did just that.

Just as mysterious as the details of the event itself is the astrological prediction of the event, which was overshadowed by the attention on Robert Zoller, who was at the time riding on a wave of great astrological celebrity, in no small part due to his many contributions to traditional and particularly Medieval Astrology. Even today on Astrology Restored he is listed as “the world’s leading proponent of Medieval Astrology.” In the same place, he is credited with the prediction of the attack on New York,

This is the graphic representation of the Total Solar Eclipse of 11 August 1999 to which Zoller refers. One of the most fundamental rules for the judgment of an eclipse is that it must be visible to have any influence on a given area. In this case, although it is a very impressive eclipse, it is not visible on US soil. In fact, the maximum point of this eclipse is over Romania, on the other side of the world. It does, however, pass through several European and Middle Eastern countries and onward to Pakistan and India, as far as the Bay of Bengal. The duration of the eclipse was 2 min 23 s.

This detail is one of the most perplexing elements in Zoller’s prediction. It simply wouldn’t qualify, yet he is meticulous in explaining the time frame of the alleged effect. The 1999 eclipse apparently has an effect that lasts 30 months. He doesn’t say why. However, we are fortunate to have his own words, on the larger topic, published in his Nuntius newsletter. He writes

” From September we are entering a period of increased danger to us in the West. In an earlier Nuntius I said that there is an increasing threat to the US citizens and this is particularly so on the Eastern sea boarder. I have also said that this threat is linked not so much to a new boldness in terrorist planning but more to US incompetence. At that time I couched those remarks as being non-astrological so as to play down the warning but I say again as was said in the July Nuntius if the US does not cease acting incompetently, it will invite the depredations of adventurers such as Osama bin Laden and Saddam. This is a wake up call. Our way of life and cultural values (& our lives) are at stake. “

Again, there is no reason given for this specific information. I cannot imagine how it could have derived from consulting the eclipse alone. This account could have been written by anyone with an understanding of current events., as has been noted by others No date is given. No specific location is given. It’s would appear to be a useless prediction from that point of view because the most important utility of prediction is to warn or offer preparatory information.  The US and the Western world was bracing for terrorist attacks, such as had already occurred. Elsewhere, Zoller had warned of Chinese forces working with Al Qaida in the desert, which proved to be incorrect.

He also wrote: “”As the next 12 months unfold we will see increased tension in those countries that fell under the path of the August 1999 eclipse but after the end of August 2001 this will take on a new twist and it will be the last 6 months of the eclipse effect that will be the worse.”

That refers to so many countries, many of which are in a constant state of tension  It’s a throwaway line and ultimately tells us nothing. We are curious to know what else Zoller might have used but didn’t mention. Zoller could have used several other tools available to Mundane astrologers, such as various Ingress charts, Planetary Phases. Profections, Primary Directions, Lunations,  Revolutions and more. If he used any of these I’m not aware of it.

So, if he is telling us that the time range of the eclipse is 2.5 years, that would fit the (approx) 2,5 minutes of duration of the eclipse. But I repeat: the eclipse did not fall on US soil, we still have a wide time frame and the eastern seaboard is a massive area. Why did he not consult other elements? If he did, he doesn’t mention them with any coherence. If he was certain of the attack, why did he not warn anyone in a position to get the word out so that thousands of lives would be saved? Why does he initially make the prediction as if as a casual observer, only to claim it was really a prediction?

There were two Lunar Eclipse in 1999, one on 31 January with maximum eclipse in the Philippines and the other on 28 July with maximum eclipse seen in the central Pacific. neither of these is mentioned by Zoller or any other astrologer, to the best of my knowledge. There was an Annular Solar Eclipse across Western Australia on 116 February 1999, with the maximum eclipse Again, the lack of visibility in N. America would rule out any interpretation of an event in New York. Yet Zoller refers to another eclipse that didn’t stretch to N. America either.

He had predicted the election of George W. Bush, referring to him as “a younger less experienced member of the House of Bush.” It’s a prediction that many people from all walks of life might have made with confidence. but it stands out because the language reads like a mimicry of prophets such as Nostradamus. It’s as if we are being thrown off the scent at every turn, left wondering if there was anything to find in the first place.  Below is a chart for the eclipse set for New York, even though it was not visible from anywhere in the Americas.

We see that Saturn and Jupiter are moving into Superior Conjunction. This occurs approximately every ten years and has been considered of great astrological importance since antiquity. This [henomene marks a new epoch. This consideration is crucial in most Mundane readings of this type. It hasn’t happened yet, but it soon will on 31 May 2000 The 12th House of hidden enemies is the point of the eclipse. Mars is in perfect opposition to Saturn. As with the eclipse itself, which places the stress om the alleged enemies of the US. Venus is her Fall and Retrograde, and Lady of both Saturn and Jupiter. I have no way of knowing if Zoller consulted a chart anything like this, but it seems likely considering his emphasis on the eclipse.

Below is the chart for the first plane crash into the WTC. I add ir here to see, even in a general way, what Zoller might have envisioned.  What was he looking at that would convince him that the attack would be from Muslim fundamentalist? Islam is under Venus and the eclipse was in Leo. There really is no reason why Zoller would consult such a chart. unless it was after the fact. I leave it here for those wishing to examine this chart.

This is by no means intended as a person or a professional attack on Robert Zoller, who has a well-founded reputation as one of the most important astrologers of his generation. However, readers have raised these questions and I thought it best to put out there for an explanation and an opportunity for discussion. Moreover, when a high profile astrologer makes such a prediction, they must expect to be questioned on how the prediction was made. The eclipse needs to be explained anew or disqualified as part of a prediction if, in fact, a prediction occurred in the first place.

The one astrologer that predicted the attack to the exact day was a popular but unpretentious astrologer named Lynne Palmer who wrote: ““Avoid terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001” in her almanack. Robert Hand recognizes hers as the only accurate prediction but has not been able to discover how she arrived at such an accurate conclusion.

As a footnote, there is another way of looking at this, but I see no evidence that Zoller did so. The eclipse cuts through countries such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is a complete list of the countries who felt the wrath of the US military, but none of them was proven to be responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The scapegoat was primarily in Iraq and then Afghanistan.  This was the question I asked at the time.

If you google this subject, you are sure to come upon a critique of this alleged prediction at http://www.skepticreport.com/sr/?p=535. The writer states that ” In fact, whenever Zoller was precise, he was wrong. Whenever he was waffling, he now claims accuracy. ” These are harsh words, but, as always, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Solar Eclipse of June 30, 1954 – Brothers in Arms

The 1st lunar mansion of Cancer: الذِّرَاعُ “al-dhirā`” (the Lion’s paw) in Arabic. पुनर्वसु “Punarvasu” (The Two Restorers of Goods) in Sanskrit. Symbolized by a bow and quiver full of arrows in Jyotish. From [Wellcome MS Persian 373] Thumbnail 193 of Nujum al-‘Ulum ‘Stars of Sciences’ copied from an earlier work (dated AD 1575), which was probably commissioned by ‘Ali’ Adil Shah II of Bijapur in India. [Wellcome MS Persian 373]

The Total Solar Eclipse of June 30, 1954, is distinguished in no small part by its reach. Totality stretched from the US to Eastern Canada, over Greenland, parts of Scandinavia, Eastern Europe through Iran, Afghanistan and to Northwestern India. The most obvious historical connection is to a conflict between Afghani Pashtuns and Pakistan. I make this statement with some degree of hesitation because as the saying goes, a Pashtun is only at peace when he’s at war.  Afghani tribesmen are the de-facto military and warfare is taught alongside lessons in the Quran by traditional Afghans to boys as young as six., Therefore, we need to keep in mind that conflict is something of a natural state. The difference here, however, is that the conflict is between what we could well call brothers. In fact, the notion of hard boundaries between some Islamic countries is itself something of a rarity.

In addition, the politics existed and persisting between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan are so convoluted and deeply ingrained, that I will not be rehearsing them here in any detail. I’m more interested in the larger symbolism and particularly as it relates to this eclipse, However, this particular, little-discussed incident represents something of an epiphany or crystallization of the larger theme of serious and protracted wars that would have included Kashmir and therefore India and Pakistan – conflicts that continue to this day. The war in Kashmir is at least as old as the time of Partition. It has hosted what has been called a shadow war certainly between India and Pakistan, but Afghanistan has also been involved.

The strategic position of Afghanistan changed when Pakistan was born. Instead of being bordered by a largely Hindu population, it was now neighbours with another Islamic one.  Nevertheless, this was still early days and the porous border with Afghanistan was to some extent exacerbated by her landlocked position. There was and still is an antagonism between Sunni and Shia Muslims and Afghanistan is also neighbours with predominantly Shiite Iran. Even after all this time, the lot of Shii Muslims in Afghanistan is not good and is perhaps even worse in Pakistan.

I don’t think it would fair to suggest that this eclipse alone augured for the conflicts between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but it is both relevant and highly telling of the greater conflict. Pakistan has a large Pashtun population beyond the concentrations we find in Waziristan, a mountainous region covering the North Waziristan and South Waziristan agencies.

On 14 August 1947 (27th of Ramadan in 1366 of the Islamic Calendar) Pakistan gained independence. India gained independence the following day. The date given for the present state of Afghanistan is  4 August 1747, 12:01 PM in Kandahar. So, to put the conflict in context, this is not quite seven years into the young lives of either country. We don’t need to consult the chart for the creation of Pakistan for our immediate interests. It is impossible not to notice that the three countries are Leo. They have many things in common and many things to fight about.

This is the chart for the eclipse in Afghanistan:

Most obvious of course is the string of Cancer planets and luminaries in the 8th House of Death and Inheritance, themes which are very much at play, perhaps more so for Pakistan. Although history has celebrated the Independence of India and the creation of Pakistan (Land of the Pure) the depth and magnitude of the wound required to create a land for India’s Muslims are considered mostly within the context of the immediate results, such as the widespread violence between displaced Hindus and Muslims.

What is less often considered is the longer-term effects of the amputation. Pakistan was no small concession. It is an enormous country of 340,509 sq m., all of it once part of India. Moreover, the land had been handed over to what had not so long ago been invaders and often very harsh rulers. an estimated three hundred million Hindus were massacred and their religious sites destroyed over a three-century span of time. Members of other religious groups were also severely persecuted over the centuries. This mostly gets lost in the smoke and mirrors that constituted the politics of India and the British Empire. This raises the issue of duplicity, as shown in the 7th House.

Nevertheless, Gemini is, after all, the sign of the twins. The Lord of the Descendant is Mercury in Cancer but retrograde in the 8th House. It’s the Day of Mercury, but the Hour of Jupiter. The latter is also the Almuten of the chart. This brings us to the Lunar Mansion in which the Eclipse occurred.  The 8th Mansion is named al-Natra, meaning the Crib or Gap. It occupies 0* Cancer to 12* Cancer 51’What would seem utterly hopeless at first glance, turns out to be representative of opportunity.

In The Picatrix:, this Mansion denotes’ love and friendship and the ability to heal enmity.  Stephanie Johnson adds that Al Nathrah brings “a profound attachment to family and a love of children, even those of other people. This is not dissimilar to the interpretation of a Moon in Cancer.” (Lunar Mansions: Arabs and the Moon p. 5)  Dorotheus of Sidon has his own interpretation, but while the core themes remain the same.  there is great doubt about the longevity of the benefits. He writes  it is:

“Good for voyages, swift on outward and return journeys. Marriages contracted will be harmonious for a while, then discordant. A slave bought will deceitful, accuse his master, and run away. A partnership started will involve fraud on either side. If captured, long imprisonment.”

Durand Line Border Between Afghanistan And Pakistan

The two versions are not incompatible. In the short term, peace and understanding prevail. However, we know that corruption is rife in both countries. The core issue was and still is the recognition of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, known as the Durand Line. The issue was old even before the inception of Pakistan.  The history and ongoing strife are far too complex to rehearse here in detail and that isn’t the main thrust of this article. Everything is ephemeral in the Sub-Lunary Sphere and what this chart and eclipse show us is how the details, the smaller stretches of time, fit into the larger picture which is ultimately more massive than the human mind can fully comprehend.

Neverthe; less, in the short run, all looks quite encouraging. We have a truce rather than a permanent peace, which is what we might expect. The exaltation of Jupiter in Cancer lends a great deal of good-will seems well and Venus in the 9th House is quite splendid for two Islamic countries settling border issues. saturn is not respecting the Ascendant, except by aversion.

This does matter, however, because Saturn is all about boundaries and limitations of all kinds, and the party contesting the border can’t see that. Saturn is ion his House of Joy only because he can do less damage there.  Be that as it may, Mars is on the same Axis and the Eclipse – known as the axis of Hades and he has just entered Capricorn  This axis is after all, about possession of material things, either your ‘own’ or what is inherited. Again, this theme fits perfectly with the matter at hand. Mars is in his sign of Exaltation, but Retrograde. The antagonism is enough to get things moving, but not enough to kybosh all that might be gained.

Ficino tells us that Mars is soothed by Venus and Saturn is soothed by Jupiter. Both of these are operative in the outcome, albeit a temporary one. Venus accomplishes this by her position in the 9th House of religion. Islam itself is under Venus and both countries are Islamic. That brings an ultimately unshakeable degree of harmony, despite the boundary issues.  She is also in the sign of the Sun, and we are discussing two Leo countries. The 9th is the Joy of the Sun.

Jupiter, on the other hand, is strong, even though the house position is weak. He is still the Almutren of the chart. in his exaltation with a Cancer Moon.  He forms a trigon with Saturn and this seems to seal the deal. At the end of the day, the parties in conflict are they are brothers – and like brothers that will continue to scrap but always find a way back to each other. According to  Vinay Kaura, of Sardar Patel University, as of Jun 27, 2017 . “no Afghan government, including the present one headed by President Ashraf Ghani, has ever recognized the legitimacy of the Durand Line, which runs through mountainous terrain and remains largely unpoliced.” (MER. Jan, 2017. But what does a border actually mean to people who are partly nomadic and for the most part have no real concept of a nations state?

Considering both countries are strongly Muslim, the concepts of ummah and caliphate have much more resonance and particularly with the tribal populations of both countries. Ummah (Arabic: أمة‎ [ˈʊm.mæ]) is an Arabic word defined as “community”. It is distinguished from Shaʻb (شعب [ʃæʕb]) which means a nation with common ancestry or geography. Thus, it can be said to be a supra-national community with a common history. When Muslims speak of the Ummah, they would include Muslims from all countries. The Islamic ideal is a global Caliphate with all non-believers subjugated, so national boundaries between Muslims are going to produce conflict between tribal and Islamic values.

A nomadic family posing for a photo in the Wakhan corridor in Afghanistan

This is part of the never-ending story and there were and will continue to eclipses that are immediately relevant. My primary purpose here was to show how the eclipse describes the situation so eloquently.

Indian Cosmology : Astrological Mysticism in the The Surya Siddhanta – I

A Panchānga, shown above, is a Hindu calendar and almanack, It presents important dates and their calculations in a tabulated form. It is Jyotisha

Earth is a sphere

Thus everywhere on [the surface of] the terrestrial globe,
people suppose their own place higher [than that of others],
yet this globe is in space where there is no above nor below.

Surya Siddhanta, XII.53
Translator: Scott L. Montgomery, Alok Kumar

Many people who are familiar with Indian Epic the Ramayana, will recall the many deeds of Ravana, including the capture of Sita. Less known are the extraordinary feats of King Maya. According to the legend, the Hindu Sun god, Surya, imparted highly specific knowledge of the universe to Maya. The series of treatises on that subject is known as the Surya Siddhanta. It is the most ancient book on astronomy believed to exist and it’s alarmingly accurate.  In the history of astronomy and astrology, it is a key document of inestimable value.

To define our terms, Surya is the Sun or Sun god. Solar deities are ubiquitous for reasons that are plain enough. Without the Sun there is neither light nor heat, rendering life impossible..

Siddhanta is a Sanskrit term denoting the established and accepted view of any particular school within Indian philosophy. Literally “settled opinion or doctrine, dogma, axiom, received or admitted truth; any fixed or established or canonical text-book on any subject” (Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary).  Surya (the supreme light) was the main solar deity in Hinduism; and also represents the Sun in India and Nepal. He is one of the core elements of Hindu astrology;  “Surya was the chief of Navagraha and the Classical Planets. He had 3 wives; Saranyu, Yama, and Yami. From northeast India, 11th century CE”. (Curator at National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, UK)

A sculpture of the Hindu sun-god Surya. The god is in a typical pose holding lotus flowers. Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh, India, c. 1100-1150 CE. (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

It has become increasingly apparent, with the re-discovery of Hellenistic and Arabian astrology that we don’t have all the pieces. Without the study of Persian and Indian astrology, metaphysics and astronomy, we are missing elements that cause the relative break down in later systems. I notice this often in the venerable Greek texts, where I’m not alone left wondering what on earth the writer was thinking. Moreover, some of the techniques handed down to us from these sources lack consistent credibility. Some appear to be next to useless after decades of experimentation.

It would be quite impossible of course to do more than provide an introduction to the Indian systems and to point to particularly relevant sources of influence. I believe the greatest synthesis of early astrological synthesis was achieved in ancient Persia. This is only natural as Persia is like a geographical bridge between the Hellenistic, the Babylonian and Indian. This is the first of what I anticipate will be three articles.

Western culture, beginning with the Greeks, developed a taste for, and some ability at, writing more or less objective histories. Cultures who valued reason and logic over the mythological have strong advantages and many disadvantages. Indians did not make absolute distinctions between history and mythology and appear to have been particularly adept at finding a way for reason and mysticism to flourish. The Vedas were never considered ‘fiction’ as such. A linear narrative has no place in this view and in fact, most Indians believe the Vedas have neither a beginning nor an end.  They are immortal. They are spiritual. They offer practical guidance and even mathematical knowledge. At the same time, the age of the universe is the age of Brahma.

The easiest way to realize the difference, which I have admittedly simplified to some extent, is to ground the understanding in the infinite, a reality in which the temporal is subordinate to the infinite in all respects. The infinite is, of course, the source of the temporal, but Western culture became amnesiacal about this a very long time ago. Logical categories can be helpful but they can quickly become nothing more than cookie cutters. This system attempt to reduce the complexities of human existence by making things appear to be smaller, more manageable and separate from each other. However, consolation is not always the road to truth.

The Surya Siddhanta is a treatise on traditional Indian astronomy, said to date back over 1500 years and attributed to Mamuni Mayan, a Promethean hero in Tamil culture. There is a vibrant tradition that tells us the work is 2 million years old.  Be that as it may, it forms the basis of the Hindu and Buddhist calendars. Subsequent mathematicians and astronomers such as Aryabhata and Varahamihira frequently referred to it.

In his own work, entitled Pancha Siddhanta, the esteemed Varahamihira,, besides the Paitamaha Siddhantas (more or less identical to the “classical” Védanga Jyotisha ) of Siddhantas Paulisha and Romaka (directly inspired by Hellenistic astronomy ) and Vasishta Siddhanta. Varahamihira was one of the only renowned Indian Astronomer, Mathematician and Astrologer whose name became familiar throughout India.

The book Surya Siddhanta has clearly been reworked more than once. However. it is not impossible that there was a volume with the same title from the Mauryan Empire, providing a date sometime in the third century B.C. in southernmost, including what is now Sri Lanka. Al Biruni’s India is a rich source of astronomical knowledge in India at that time.

Of immediate interest to the student of the history of astronomy and astrology, we are provided with rules allowing us to assign to the stars movements in accordance with their position in the sky. It provides the positions of several different stars of the lunar nakshatras and even addresses the calculation of the solar eclipse.

In the upcoming series of articles, I intend to look closely at some core elements in the Surya Siddhanta in light of astrological theory. One such element is the importance of the Nakshatras.

Hindu Metaphysics – Yantra Mandala illustration

The Introduction to the work tells us that “The Surya Siddhanta is at the top of this class of revelations. It was revealed to Maya an Asura, in all probability an Assyrian or rather a Babylonian.” (See Surya-Siddhanta (11935)    The Assyrian and Babylonian element is not at first particularly obvious, but as the work progresses we find some markedly interesting parallels. much of it in the realm of what in these days referred to as visible astrology, the periods and phases of the planets and more. Yet The work itself tells us that the Surya-Siddhanta was “revealed more than 2,164,960 years ago, that amount of time having elapsed, according to Hindu reckoning, since the end of the Golden Age” (p.I)

It is these massive periods that have left many astronomers aghast, although the late Carl Sagan was fascinated by them. We do, after all, look through a glass darkly and the ordinary human mind is not equipped to deal with concepts such as infinity or to fully grasp the significance of the knowledge that the light of stars that died a million years ago that haven’t reached us yet. What we are seeing in deep space is the distant past.

The antiquity of the transmission is calculated using the Nakshatra system – the matching of an asterism at the very point at which it would have to have occurred in this system.:

“In calculating the conjunction (yoga) of a planet and an asterism (nakshatra), in determining the setting and rising of a planet, and in finding the elevation of the moon’s cusps, this operation for apparent longitude (drkkarman) is first prescribed.” (p. 190)

 

  1.  Cf. Bhāskarācārya, Bapu Deva Sastri, la traduction en anglais du Surya Siddhanta, Lancelot Wilkinson (ISBN 3-76481-334-2lire en ligne [archive])
  1. This painting from a manuscript depicts the Sun and Moon. The deer is associated with the moon in Indian culture and often used to symbolize the Moon in pictures. Image by British Library (copyright CCO 11,1 Creative Commons).

Total Solar Eclipse of 8 August 1496 – The Mayan Apocalypse

Macrobius, Solar Eclipsxe

A dramatic Total Solar Eclipse occurred on 8 August 1496 with maximum eclipse at 20:36 UT. It must have been frightening for the indigenous people  The eclipse plunged the Sun into darkness for 5 minutes and 30 seconds at maximum, creating an extraordinary spectacle for observers in a broad path up to 236 km wide. The dramatic quality fo this eclipse means that to a great extent it speaks for itself.

First, we do well to put ourselves in the position of the observers. The Maya, for example, were sophisticated astronomers time-keepers and interpreters of eclipses.  This eclipse had dire implications for several cultures in the region, but it behoves us to focus on one for the time being.

Pyramid dedicated to KuKuulKaan”a Universal Solar Calendar. tracking the five movements of our Planet in relation to the sun, namely Equinoxes, Solstices, and the Zenith of the Sun.

Ethan Watrall provides a succinct comment on Mayan culture: “The Mayans religion involved several aspects of nature, astronomy and rituals. Most Gods represented a form in nature, for example, Sun God, Kinih Ahous, or Maize God, Yum Kaax. The Mayans were known for their calendars and astronomical buildings. These were used during their religious rituals. Similar to the Egyptians, the Mayans built Pyramid like temples for religious reasons. The main difference in shape being [sic] that the Mayan pyramids have a flat top to build temples on top. The best-known pyramid is El Castillo or Temple of Kukulkan in the archaeological site Chichen Itza, in the Mexican state of Yucatan.” Mayans Religion: Gods, Animal Spirits and Pyramids

.The first encounter with the Yucatec Maya themselves may have occurred in 1502, when the fourth voyage of “came across a large trading canoe off Honduras. The eclipse appears as a tidal wave of death for the inhabitants of the region. Keeping in mind that all these cultures held a special place for the Sun as a source of life itself, it must have a profound effect and would no doubt be taken as a bad omen.

I managed to recreate the chart, using Cancun as the location. However, the eclipse path continued through Mexico, Central American through what is now Venezuela and beyond.Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus), whose name means “Christ-bearing colonizer was the catalyst that changed the world of ancient American civilisations forever.

New Sun God Temple Reveals Maya Beliefs – Courtesy National Geographic

Most immediately, we can see that the eclipse is in the Fixed Sign and Leo, with Mars and a Venus ahead of the Sun. This is all happening in the Eighth House, associated with Death. Even Jupiter and Saturn are disposited by Mars. Moreover, according to Bonnati, the Sun is Hyleg, giving a stronger sense of the loss of life.

In a Fixed Sign and of above average duration, at 5 minutes and 30 seconds, we can expect the full force of this to be felt more than five years into the future. In fact, in the same region, the concerted plan to exterminate as many natives as possible and sieze both lands and resources was well underway, just a few short years after contact. We can say that even by the time of the eclipse, there was no realistic option of reversal and the Spanish used everything at their disposal, including germ warfare in the form of smallpox-infected blankets. The natives had no resistance to these diseases and were reduced by as much as 90% For these people, the events of the late 15th C. to the mid 16th C. in particular, were like an apocalypse.

Sanderson Beck tells us that by the end of 1499 Columbus had discovered “that there were extensive gold fields in Española. Columbus had already written to the Spanish sovereigns saying he planned to take as many slaves as he could; now he told them of the rebellion and asked them to send a competent judge. Meanwhile, they had authorized Ojeda to visit the mainland Columbus had discovered and which Ojeda named Venezuela, where he found valuable pearl fisheries.”  Spanish Conquest 1492-1580 By the time of the eclipse, the seeds were already being sown and an apocalypse was unleashed on the indigenous population of what are now several countries.,

Map of America by Sebastian Munster