Astrotheology: Part 3: Sun Gods

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Of all the celestial bodies the sun is the biggest, brightest and most important. Without the sun none of us could live, so naturally it has had a huge influence on religion. Every night the sun would die (set) only to reborn once again in the morning. The Egyptians mythologized this daily ritual into the story of Osiris. The story starts out with Osiris as the King of Egypt till his brother Set decides to kill him and steal the throne. Osiris would go on to become the King of the underworld, but while Set ruled, Osiris’s wife Isis gave birth to a son, Horus, who grows up, defeats Set and reclaims the throne. In astrological terms, Set is the sunset (the dark aspect of the sun), Isis (the Queen of Heaven) is the night sky and the chaos which occurs each day when Set rules, and she inevitably gives birth to Horus (the son) who represents the rising sun and the restoring of order.

The Christian myth bears striking similarities if you substitute Osiris with God (the Father), Isis with the Virgin Mary, Set with Satan, and Horus with Jesus. You can also see a good portrayal of this in the film The Lion King, with Mufasa as Osiris, Scar as Set and Simba as Horus.

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In Polytheistic religions, such as those practised in ancient Egypt, the sun was one of many Gods and Goddesses worshipped and had different forms and names. The sun was often seen as the highest of the Gods, and became synonymous with the creator God himself. The sun being seen as masculine (and the moon feminine) meant that he was mostly represented in the form of a man – although feminine sun Goddesses exist too. Having three distinct phases – rising, midday, and setting – the sun was divided into a trinity to represent the three stages of life; growth, maturity and decay. In Christianity you have the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. In Hinduism, Brahma is the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer/Transformer.

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The Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten was one of the first, if not the first, to give the sun a special place above all the other Gods. He’d previously been known as Amenhotep IV, (meaning ‘Amun is satisfied’) before changing his name to Akhenaten (‘living spirit of Aten’) as his allegiance was to the sun God Aten. Akhenaten wanted to abandon traditional polytheism and promote a monotheistic religion with Aten as the One true God, whilst Akhenaten viewed himself as the son of God, and therefore the God of the Earth. His new ideas didn’t go down too well with the people of Egypt, and after his death the Aten worship faded. His son changed his name from Tutankhaten (‘living image of Aten’) to Tutankhamun (‘living image of Amun’), and the old traditions returned.

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It’s been speculated that Moses was inspired by Akhenaten’s monotheistic vision and that monotheism in the Judeo-Christian religions arose directly out of the worship of Aten. While Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, the Israelites made an image of a ‘golden calf’ and started to worship it. The golden calf is thought to stem from the Egyptian God Apis, who was a sacred bull. When Moses gets back to camp he destroys the golden calf and orders the worshippers be killed, resulting in about 3,000 deaths. The destruction of the golden calf symbolises the end of the astrological age of Taurus and the beginning of the age of Aries.

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In the later part of the Roman Empire, the official sun god was called Sol Invictus (‘unconquered sun’), and the Roman festival ‘Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (‘birthday of the unconquered sun’) was celebrated on December 25th. Early Christians were persecuted in Rome till Constantine the Great became emperor. According to the stories, before the battle of the Milivian bridge (312 AD), Constantine saw a cross in the sky arising from the light of the sun, carrying the message, ‘In Hoc Signo Vinces’ (‘with this sign you will conquer’). Other stories suggest he was visited by Christ himself in a dream. He then used the Christian sign of the cross on his army’s shields and they won the battle. He would later go on to end persecution against Christians and legalise Christianity paving the way for the rise of the Catholic Church and modern day sun worship.

Pope Francis celebrates the First Vespers and Te Deum prayers in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican

Astrotheology: Part 2: The Zodiac

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In part 1 I gave a brief introduction to Astrotheology (the study/word of the star gods). If you haven’t read that you can find the post here. In this part, we’ll be covering the basics of the Zodiac and how it relates to religion.

Most of you will be somewhat familiar with the Zodiac, have probably read a horoscope or two, and should certainly know your own star sign – or sun sign as it’s known in astrology. The word Zodiac comes from the Greek word ‘zodiakos’ which means ‘a circle of animals’. It’s likely named that way because most of the signs of the Zodiac are animals and the constellations form a circle in the heavens which the sun travels round on its annual pilgrimage – at least from our perspective.

The circle is essentially the Wheel of the Year, which we covered in part 1. It tracks the sun’s journey over the life of the year, including a death (at the winter solstice) and rebirth (at the spring equinox). The circle is divided into twelve sections each one spanning thirty degrees in space and a month in time. The groups of stars within these sections are known as constellations  and if you join the stars together dot-to-dot they form a shape. Most of the constellations don’t actually look like the creature (or thing in the case of Libra) they’re named after but are symbolic of the sun’s power and influence at various times of the year.

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The sun starts its journey at the spring equinox, where it’s directly in line with the equator, in the sign of Aries, the ram. It proceeds to ascend (as far as the northern hemisphere is concerned) using the energy of the ram (Aries) and then the bull (Taurus) till it eventually reaches its highest point, the Tropic of Cancer (the crab) at the summer solstice. It then starts to walk backwards (like a crab) into Leo (the Lion) and mid-summer where the sun is at its strongest and most ferocious. After Leo comes Virgo (the Virgin) who cools the sun’s rage – you can see a good example of this Leo-Virgo symbolism in the Strength card of the Tarot.

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After Virgo, at the autumn equinox, the scales (Libra) start to turn and the sun begins its descent into the southern hemisphere, getting weaker by the day. It gets stung by the scorpion (Scorpio) in mid-autumn then shot by the Centaur’s arrow (Sagittarius) where it finally dies at the winter solstice when the sun reaches its lowest point at the Tropic of Capricorn. There the sun hangs on the cross (the Southern Cross constellation) for three days before the sun starts to move again on December 25th. The sun is re-born three houses of the Zodiac later when it returns to the spring equinox and back into the sign of Aries.

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Centuries before the Christian era, the Pagans revered the constellation of Aries calling it (or him) the ‘Lamb of God’ and the ‘Saviour’ who was said to save mankind from their sins. Jesus was also known as the Lamb of God:

John 1:29: The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

In Greek mythology, the story of Jason and the Argonauts features a Golden Fleece which had magical healing powers. The fleece was taken from a winged ram, which later became the constellation Aries. The Twelve Labours of Hercules represent an allegorical journey by the hero and son (sun) of Zeus (King of the Gods) through the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

So every year the sun travels around the Zodiac and returns to where it started at the spring equinox, but each year it falls just a little bit short of completing the circle and over the period of around 25,920 years it retrogrades (moves backwards) through the signs of the Zodiac, remaining in each sign for around 2,160 years. This period of 2,160 years is what’s known as an astrological age. So when the sun rises in Aries at the spring equinox, we’re said to be in the age of Aries. When it rises in Taurus, we’re in the age of Taurus, and so on.

If you ask most people about the subject we’re currently in the age of Pisces (the fish), which started with the birth of Christ. This makes a lot of sense on the surface if you look at the symbolism, since one of the early symbols of Christianity was the fish. In the Bible Jesus was called the ‘Fisher of Men’, he fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two small fishes, and when you look at the hats that Bishops wear, which are called Mitres, well … they look a little fishy.

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This is all based on a geocentric view of astrological philosophy, where the Earth is considered the centre of the universe. In the heliocentric view the sun is the centre of the universe, so rather than look at which sign the sun rises in they look at the sign which the sun is shining on which would be directly opposite the one it rises in. So, for example, the age of Pisces would really be the age of Virgo (the virgin), and the coming age of Aquarius would really be the age of Leo (the lion). So maybe when the next age comes we’ll see the return of Aslan 🙂

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Astrotheology: Part 1: Introduction

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Today is a Sunday on a new moon, so it seems fitting that I should be writing about Astrotheology. If you’re new to the subject, you’re probably wondering what Astrotheology is. It comes from the combination of three words: Astro (relating to the stars or celestial objects); Theo (relating to God or deities); and the suffix –logy (the study of) which comes from the word Logos (word). Put them together and you get Astrotheology – the study (or word) of the star gods.

Essentially, it’s a combination of Astrology (the study of the stars) and Theology (the study of God and religion). But what does Astrology have to do with religion? Well, quite a lot actually. Most of the old religions, including the Abrahamic ones (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) evolved from ancient cults that worshipped the stars and planets. Christianity came out of the Solar cult (cult of the sun); Islam from the Lunar cult (cult of the moon and the night sky); and Judaism from the Stellar cult (cult of the stars and planets). You can see evidence of this by looking at the flags of the various nations and states which are associated with these religions.

So if we look at the English flag, a nation founded on Christianity, we’ll see that it’s the Cross of Saint George – the Patron Saint of England.

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It might not look like it’s related to the sun, but if you view it in conjunction with the next image, you’ll see that the cross dissects the year into the four seasons, with the vertical line running from the 12 and 6 positions on the clock which represent the summer solstice (June 21st) and winter solstice (December 21st), and the horizontal line from the 3 and 9 positions on the clock which represent the Vernal (spring) equinox (March 20th) and autumn equinox (September 22nd).

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If we look at the Scottish flag, the Cross of Saint Andrew (Patron Saint of Scotland), and add that to the above image, you can see that the cross runs through the four corners and represents the mid-points of the four seasons.

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Put the two flags together along with the Northern Irish flag (the Cross of Saint Patrick – Patron Saint of Ireland) and you get the Union Jack (flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).

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The two crosses divide the flag up into eight sections, same as in the Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year.

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So that’s the Solar cult. The next two are fairly obvious. If we look at the flag of Pakistan below, we’ll see that it contains a crescent moon and a star: remember the main religion of Pakistan is Islam, which came from the Lunar cult.

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Lastly we have the Stellar cult, which Judaism came from. If we look at the flag of Israel (whose main religion is Judaism), you can see that it has a star (known as the Star of David) at the centre of it.

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If you think it’s just religious people who are under the thrall of these ancient cults though, think again. It doesn’t matter what, if any, religious beliefs you have, you’re still going to be under the influence of the old religions in some form or another. The planets, for example, are named after the Gods of ancient Rome (aside from Uranus, who is from ancient Greece). And if we look at the days of the week, you’ll see that they’re named after the Seven Luminaries (or Seven Classical Planets) of classical atiquity.

Sunday is the Sun‘s day. Monday is the Moon‘s day. Tuesday is a little more complex, but it’s named after the god Tiw (Tiw’s day) who was the old English equivalent to the Roman God Mars. Wednesday is Woden‘s day; Woden being the old English name for the Norse God Odin, who the Romans considered to be the equivalent of their God Mercury. Thursday is Thor‘s day; Thor being equivalent to the Roman God Jupiter. Friday is Frige‘s day; Frige being the old English name for the Norse Goddess Frigg, who is associated with the Goddess of Love Freyja and the planet Venus. Whilst Saturday is Saturn‘s day.

Most of the modern influence of Astrotheology is not so obvious though, and comes in the form of symbols which are hard to spot if you don’t know what to look for. I’ll be covering this in more depth in later posts but for now I just want to give you a quick taster of where you can find this symbolism in modern western society. Most of it is used in advertising to sell us things including:

Products:

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Nike is the name of a Greek Goddess and the ‘tick’ logo is based on the ring around Saturn.

Ideology:

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The European Union flag is based on the iconic images of the Virgin Mary, probably the most famous mother figure of modern times. The twelve stars represent the signs of the zodiac.

People:

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Picture of Jesus on the left and Barack Obama on the … shit! I meant Obama on the left and Jesus on the right. So easy to confuse the two.

So this is just a sample of how the imagery and symbols of the ancient religions are still being used to shape our reality by tapping into our subconscious minds. It’s important that we all become symbol literate so that we can guard against the influence of these subtle forms of mind control.

I’ll be going into more depth on the symbolism and covering the zodiac in coming posts. If you have any questions or anything you’d like to add, please leave a comment.

Thanks for reading.

Charlie.

Quick Update and Message Regarding Future of the Blog

Happy 2017 everyone! 🙂

A little late, I know, but better late than never.

Anyway, I realise I’ve been neglecting the blog. The last post was 31st October 2016 and I didn’t even update on how the NaNoWriMo went. It went great, btw! I managed to get the 50,000 words written in the month and completed my first novel. I’m currently in the process of redrafting (8 out of 33 chapters done) which is partly why I haven’t blogged for so long.

The other reason I haven’t blogged for so long is due to a lack of direction and uncertainty over what to write about. I started the blog about a year ago on a whim and it was initially just to publish some of the short stories I’d written. Since then, I’ve experimented with writing book reviews – although they often turned into long essays and analyses – posts about running, and the occasional input on current affairs, none of which was really where my passion lies – aside form the storytelling, of course – and since I haven’t been running in ages, and haven’t had the desire to review any books lately, I’ve just let the blog go to waste.

I’ve now reached the point where I can either abandon the blog completely, or take it in a different direction and give it a renewed purpose. I’ve decided to go with the latter and am stating my intentions now to start blogging about the things I’m really interested in and passionate about. Over the past year or so, I’ve developed an interest in the occult, symbolism and the Mystery School traditions. It’s fascinating stuff and, while I’m no expert, I do have sufficient knowledge and enthusiasm to start blogging about these subjects and there’s more than enough material to keep me going indefinitely. I’m currently reading a book called The Secret Teachings of All Ages which I would highly recommend, as it contains a wealth of information, some of which I’m sure to cover at some point on the blog. I’ve also started to learn the Tarot, so I’ll most certainly be mentioning that in future posts.

Anyway, I’ll leave it there for now. Thanks for reading. More content on it’s way.

NaNoWriMo

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It’s been a while since I posted and this will just be a quick update to let everyone know I’ve signed up for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) which starts tomorrow and runs till the end of November.

As of now, I’m a NanoWriMo virgin, so this will be a scary new challenge for me. I’m looking forward to getting started tomorrow though.

My novel is a fairy tale aimed at young adults with the working title: The Drofswin Fairies. I’ve never written anything like this before, so again I’ll be breaking new ground, but the story really spoke to me, so I decided that this should be the one I use.

I’ll no doubt update with my progress later in the week, so keep your eye out for that. And if you’re doing NaNoWriMo yourself then good luck and get in touch.

My author page is here and my Reddit page is here.

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Book Review: Civil War

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Written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Steve McNiven, Marvel’s Civil War examines the ideological war between two factions of superheroes: those who want to maintain freedom and anonymity, led by Captain America, and those led by Iron Man who believe it’s time for transparency and control.

It’s a fascinating premise, and a theme that has been explored before in superhero lore, most notably in Alan Moore’s Watchmen where he poses the question ‘who watches the Watchmen?’ or, who are the superheroes held accountable to?

It starts off with a group of rookies called the New Warriors filming a reality TV show on the job. Unfortunately they take on more than they can handle, and as the battle spills out into the street, ending up outside an elementary school, supervillain Nitro uses his powers to make a huge explosion which takes out several blocks and kills a lot of people including the schoolchildren. After the incident, confidence and trust in superheroes reaches a low point. There’s a lot of anger amongst the public which leads to violence outside a nightclub where the mob turns on Johnny Storm (a.k.a. The Human Torch) and they give him a beating.

Next come proposals for superhero reform, whereby all the heroes are required to register, train and go on the government payroll. This doesn’t sit well with around half the heroes, some of whom are worried that revealing their identity will put members of family and people they love in danger, while others simply feel it will compromise their integrity and ability to fight crime and save lives. With Nick Fury out of action (for reasons which are never really explained) Commander Hill is left in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. When she informs Captain America that he’ll have to arrest those who won’t register, Cap flat out refuses and since neither one will back down, a conflict ensues. After battling his way out of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, Cap goes underground and leads the anti-registration group, leaving Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man) to lead the pro-registration group.

While the author does a good job in showing the positive and negative aspects of both sides of the conflict, I found myself rooting for Cap’s team all the way. Maybe I’m an idealist at heart, but the thought of superheroes working for the government and following orders makes them far less super and not nearly as heroic in my book. I’m not a fan of government at the best of times, and the real heroes are the people who do what’s right even if they have to break the law in order to do so.

The book itself is a little on the short side at just seven chapters, and while the fast pace made it a pleasure to read, I couldn’t help but think it would’ve been better if it had been fleshed out a little more. It felt like it was part of a wider narrative going on in the Marvel universe, which, as it turns out, it is, but you have to buy a bunch of other books to get the full story. The end is a little abrupt too, and wasn’t particularly satisfying, although, as I just mentioned, the story is continued in other books.

Still, even though it was a little light, there’s plenty of twists and turns, some beautiful artwork and enough interesting storytelling for it to be worth a read.

Philip Pullman and the European Union

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No, this isn’t the title of a new book, and it’s also kind of old news, but I thought it was worth a blog post all the same. It was a couple of days ago while I was trying to find information about the forthcoming His Dark Materials book The Book of Dust when I noticed a tweet he’d made in reference to Brexit. Essentially, he’s pledged money to support a fellow author Anthony Barnett for a book he’s working on called: WHAT NEXT: Britain after Brexit (you can find out more about it here). Curious, I decided to see what Pullman’s reaction to the Brexit was. Turns out he wasn’t too pleased about it. You can read what he said here.

It was disappointing to read this attitude from a guy whose books I was praising a few months ago. Anyone who’s read His Dark Materials trilogy will know that one of the main themes of the book is the fight of a group of rebels against an oppressive authority figure known as The Authority (subtle, I know) who represents Pullman’s version of the God of the Bible. It’s somewhat surprising then, having been so ferociously opposed to one form of authority in the form of religion, that Pullman is totally in favour of an equally oppressive albeit different form of authority in terms of government. The article I linked above is mostly just a big whinge from someone on the Remain side, who didn’t get his way, but the most interesting paragraph is this:

But the most immediate cause of the disaster this country suffered last night was the flippant, careless, irresponsible way David Cameron tried to buy off the right wing of his own party by offering them a referendum. I don’t think that device should have any place at all in a parliamentary democracy: it slips far too easily into a sort of raucous populism. We elect MPs so that they can have the time and the resources to make important decisions. That’s what they should do.

So essentially what he’s saying is that we the people should not be allowed to make decisions for ourselves. Instead we should vote for another person (our MP) to make decisions on our behalf, because obviously politicians are never corrupt and always have our best interests at heart. What an absolutely ridiculous thing for a grown man to say. Personally, I’ve never voted in a general election and I never would. I don’t need another person to represent me, and I wouldn’t trust any to do so either. I think it’s time people started to wake up and realise that politicians are not your friend, and government is not your saviour. These systems and the people who run them do so for their own personal interests and agendas, which are most often opposed to what’s good for the general public, as you’ll notice by the quote below:

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It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

It’s really disappointing that these militant atheists like Pullman and Richard Dawkins can be so measured and reasoned when it comes to speaking about religion, but then completely lose any faculties for reason when it comes to government.

P.S. Still looking forward to reading The Book of Dust though 😉