Anthroposophy and Astrology — PART 3: Mercury and Venus

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In PART 1 of the series Anthroposophy and Astrology we have discussed about the Horoscope, whereas in PART 2 we deepened the different zodiacs from an anthroposophical perspective. In this article we are going to talk about a very controversial topic: the inversion of the names of planets Mercury and Venus. For those not familiar with this issue, let’s jump right into it through this quote by Rudolf Steiner:

“Here I would like to add one thing, because misunderstandings have crept into the naming of the planets. In all occult nomenclature, what the astronomers call Venus is called Mercury, and vice versa. Astronomers know nothing of the mysteries behind this, because in the past it was not desired that the esoteric names should be revealed. This happened in order to conceal certain things.”

Egyptian Myths and Mysteries – Lecture IV – September 5, 1908

This is not the only time Steiner talked about it. Actually, there are many quotes referring to the same naming issue. I’d like to credit this important article by R. S. W. Bobbette that reports a huge list of Rudolf Steiner’s quotes about this topic. For the sake of this post we are not going through all of them, but if you’re interested check it out.

As you can see here Steiner is talking about the names of planets Mercury and Venus that were, at some point in history, interchanged. In his words, this was purposely made because it was not desired for the real names to be revealed. So Venus was called Mercury, and Mercury Venus. But why was that?

To understand the whole picture, the first thing I’d like to point out is that Steiner made a distinction between the esoteric (inner) knowledge of the Mysteries and the so called exoteric, outer knowledge. This is a very important aspect of the whole issue if we want to understand it correctly.

Mercury and Venus in the Copernican System

Now, with this distinction in mind, let’s take a look to the quote below. The quote is taken from the cycle of lectures “Spiritual Hierarchies”, and what’s interesting about it is that it comes with a diagram of the planetary spheres:

“You may be astonished at the sequence in which I have placed the planets [see picture below]. When the earth is here, and the Sun there, you would have thought that I should draw Mercury in the vicinity of the Sun, and Venus here. But no! For these Planets have had their names interchanged, in later Astronomy. That which is called Mercury to-day was called Venus in all ancient teachings, and that which is called Venus was called Mercury.

Thus, note it well, one does not understand the ancient writings when one takes that which in them is called Venus or Mercury for the Venus or Mercury of the present day. That which is said about Venus has to be applied to the Mercury of to-day, and what is said about Mercury to Venus. For those two designations were later interchanged. On the occasion when man turned the world system topsy-turvy, when the earth was deprived of its central position, the perspective was not only changed, but the designations of Mercury and Venus were also changed.”

Spiritual Hierarchies —Lecture VI — 1909

Mercury and Venus — Celestial Spheres — Spiritual Hierarchies
A picture of the Copernican System described in Spiritual Hierarchies —Lecture VI

The planetary arrangement in this picture is very peculiar. Here Steiner uses both the heliocentric model (Copernicus) and the geocentric model (Ptolemy) for the inner planets. As you can see the Earth, the Moon, Mercury, Venus and the Sun are drawn with both the heliocentric and geocentric orbits.

What Steiner is doing is starting from the heliocentric model that we all know. And he is arranging the planets in a specific position that makes possible the overlapping between this model and the old geocentric model. In doing so, he is suggesting that this overlapping is plausible. Honestly I don’t know why he doesn’t introduce the Tychonic System at this point, because what he is doing is basically describing it.

We are going to talk about it later as the solution to this riddle. But for now, let’s go back to Mercury and Venus. In the quote, Steiner says that “these Planets have had their names interchanged, in later Astronomy”. But was it really so? Did Copernicus inverted the names of these two planets? That would be something extremely well known by common astronomers because it has to do with the history of astronomy itself.

Physical Planets Where Not Inverted

To answer this question we can trust Dr. Elisabeth Vreede, first leader of the Mathematical-Astronomical Section of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum. In one of her letters concerning the movement of Mercury and Venus she explicitly refers to this issue, saying:

“Now we can easily picture the relation of Venus or Mercury to the Sun in that they are both revolving around the Sun. In figure 7 [showing the Ptolemaic System] of the previous letter the deferents of Mercury, Venus and the sun, all of which rotate in the same period of time, one year, can be regarded as coinciding with one another. In that way we pass over from the Ptolemaic system into the so-called Egyptian [the System of Tycho Brahe!].

Copernicus also proceeded in such a way that he left out the deferents of the lower planets and transplanted the center-points of their epicycles into the Sun, and had Earth also revolve around the Sun. We can here incidentally make the remarkable discovery that in figure 8 the Copernican sequence of the lower planets: Earth, Moon, Venus, Mercury, Sun, occurs of itself; while in figure 7 the old esoteric sequence of Earth, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, is adhered to.

Without going in detail now into the very complicated question of the “transposition of Venus and Mercury”, it can be shown here how it is that both Ptolemy and Copernicus call the same heavenly body “Venus” though giving it a different place in the sequence.”

Elisabeth Vreede – Year 1 – Letter VII – March 1928

So long story short we can say two things at this point:

  1. The Copernican System interchanged the position of the planetary spheres of Venus and Mercury (as seen from the Earth) compared to the old esoteric sequence;
  2. The inversion didn’t concern the actual physical planets!

On top of that we can say that taking one planet for another would have been almost impossible even by mistake. This because in ancient times they identified planets by their speed and not by their position.

Basically the ancient sequence of the planetary spheres was made taking the planets from the fastest to the slowest. The slower the planet, the closer it was to the perfect—immutable—world of the fixed stars. On the contrary, movement and change were a sign of imperfection, hence assigned to the Earth. For this reason the quicker the planet the closer it was to the Earth.

The Inversion of the Planetary Spheres

As Vreede clearly stated, the Copernican System altered the ancient sequence of the planetary spheres—not the name of the planets. But to better understand why Steiner said that Mercury and Venus where interchanged we really need to understand what a planet is from an esoteric standpoint.

Here’s what Steiner said about it in the cycle of lectures “Spiritual Hierarchies”:

“When the Ancient Rishis said the word Mercury (they did not use that word, but we take it as an example), did they mean by it the physical orb of that name? No! — even the ancient Greeks did not use it in that sense; what they meant was the totality of spiritual beings belonging to that planet. Spiritual world and spiritual beings were spoken of when, in the centres of secret knowledge for instance, the word Mercury was pronounced. When the disciples of that sacred knowledge spoke of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn pronouncing these words in their different languages, they expressed the gradations of spiritual beings.”

Spiritual Hierarchies —Lecture I — 1909

And again, from Lecture VI:

Thus you see that in reality we do not find the outer spheres or dwelling places of the Hierarchies so much on the single planets as in the regions which are limited by the orbits of the planets. If you think of the whole surrounding space from the earth up to the Moon, it is filled with Angel-activities; and if you think of the spheres from the earth to Mercury, it is filled by the activities of the Archangels, and so on.”

Spiritual Hierarchies —Lecture VI — 1909

Mainly, the Spiritual Hierarchies dwell in the empty space within the orbit of a planet, and not on the planet itself. For this reason when we talk about “the Moon” from an esoteric perspective we are referring to “everything within the orbit of the Moon”.

In the ancient Ptolemaic System (geocentric model) each planetary sphere—each heaven—was included inside the orbit of its corresponding physical planet. This because men were still able to have some experience of the spiritual realities surrounding Earth. The Copernican System (heliocentric model) instead was entirely based on mathematical calculations and physical observations.

Of course the heavenly spheres of the so called inner planets (Mercury and Venus) are difficult to determine physically because their orbits overlaps (see the diagram above from Spiritual Hierarchies —Lecture VI). Nevertheless, this is necessary to reintroduce a model able to taking spiritual realities into account.

The Solution: the System of Tycho Brahe

As I mentioned above, in Spiritual Hierarchies (Lecture VI) Rudolf Steiner is basically talking about the system of Tycho Brahe. Just compare the diagram above with the picture below and everything will fall into place:

The diagram shows a possible representation of the actual solar system. It might be very complicated using it to explain astronomical laws, nevertheless it is very close to the human experience when we look at the sky from Earth.

It is a geo-heliocentric model, meaning that every planet but Mercury and Venus move around the Earth, whereas the internal planets move around the Sun. Of course Mars, Jupiter and Saturn don’t really move around the Earth! But from our perspective, they do.

I don’t deny it. This system is very awkward from a mere material perspective. However it’s a model that is able to bridge human spiritual experience with the current dominant astronomical model. That by the way is not only very abstract but also puts mankind in a sort of void, cosmic cemetery.

Now, what’s the only problem with the model of Tycho Brahe? The only problem is that the name of the planetary spheres (orbits) of Mercury and Venus—which corresponds to spiritual realities—are inverted!

So as you can see if we were to switch these names we would be able to marry the spiritual model with the material model. And if—as Steiner said—this inversion was made on purpose by the ancient Egyptian Mysteries, nowadays we could purposely switch them back, holding the flag of the New Mysteries.

In Conclusion

The literal interpretation of Steiner’s statements about the inversion of the planets Venus and Mercury is nonsense. It is based on the materialistic bias that a planet is nothing but a physical object orbiting in outer space and not a community of living spiritual beings (heaven or planetary sphere).

The lack of this preliminary distinction could lead to absurd theories. Taking blindly Steiner’s words many Anthroposophers believe that the planet Venus is actually Mercury and vice versa. And from that dogmatic perspective, quoting Steiner’s harsh words on Astrology, they feel entitled to trash the entire astrological tradition as rubbish.

This article speaks not only in defense of Astrology but also in favor of Anthroposophy that—freed from a dogmatic attitude—is able to bring a precious impulse for the renewal of modern astronomy.

Jupiter in Capricorn 2019

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On December 3rd Jupiter has entered Capricorn, the sign of its fall. Let’s see together the meaning of this transit and why it is not necessarily a bad thing.

So first of all, what does it mean that Jupiter has entered the sign of its fall? As you might know planets represent different kinds of natural energies. Changing sign, these energies are modulated differently by it. Simply put, it’s like having the same material used for different purposes. You can try using paper to make a dress and a piece of fabric to take notes, but the other way around is better.

Sometimes planets find themselves in the same situation. They are modulated in a way that does not resonate with their own nature. This is not necessarily a problem but it comes with some issues we can’t ignore.

Jupiter in Capricorn

Jupiter is the planet of meaning, philosophy, higher knowledge, expansion, traveling, experience—in a word, everything leading us to wisdom. Usually people think about Jupiter as the planet of wealth and fortune, but we don’t have to confuse the goal with the means.

Jupiter brings wisdom and higher knowledge—this is the goal. Wealth and abundance are just mere means, and for a very simple reason. We can all agree that if I am struggling for survival I don’t really care about higher knowledge or wisdom. I am too concerned dealing with the mess in my life for that. A higher spiritual life is possible only if the lower material life is ok. Otherwise you are using spirit to escape from life, and there’s nothing wise (or spiritual) in that.

Now, the problem is that Capricorn is—THE—sign of struggling for survival. It is ruled by the severe Saturn who demands us to be independent adults, to climb that snowy mountain alone and make it by ourselves. The underling principle of Capricorn says: “Nature is a cold and inhospitable place. Mistakes are paid dearly”. Not exactly the best scenario for a philosopher devoted to wisdom.

So what happens to Jupiter in Capricorn? Since it’s not his ideal environment (we say the planet is debilitated), it starts bumping from one coping mechanism to the other. Let’s see the main ones to get an idea of what expect from this upcoming 2020.

Greed

In January (Capricorn) you don’t have much to harvest: Nature is poor. Greed is the simplest reaction to the loss of the abundance we used to have. It is about not only wanting that wealth back, but also doing everything possible to 1. getting more of it and 2. doing everything possible not to losing it again.

Jupiter is confusing the goal with the means. This can lead us to forget that the most important thing for our spiritual life is the experience not the material gain. If we don’t remember the higher role of wealth, we can be tempted to want more and more of it in a meaningless spiral. We lose our momentum towards wisdom.

Photo by Ashan Rai from Pexels

Power over Ideals

Another symptom for this scenario is that we tend to distance ourselves more and more from our ideals. We might tell us that we are compromising, but is it really so? Sometimes it is very difficult to discern what we are doing.

A way to do that is being aware of when we are choosing power over ideals. In this case we are not compromising, we are pretty much selling our soul. And for what? Power gives us the illusion of filling that void we feel inside. It is that meaningless spiral I was talking about.

The problem with that is that our community life is based on shared ideals. If we betray those ideals we start not knowing who we are anymore, and so people around us. They start not recognizing us anymore to the point that we are cut off from the community.

Capricorn Expansion

There’s more to a meaningless search for money and power for Jupiter in Capricorn. In general, one of the simplest effect of Jupiter in a sign is enhancing and expanding it. This means that not only the cons but also the pros of Capricorn find their expression.

Here’s what we get when we add the confident and optimistic traits of Jupiter to the best side of Capricorn:

  • The virtue of moderation;
  • Guiding others to get through tough times;
  • Life lessons that comes from taking responsibility;
  • Sharing the results of your labor with others;
  • Understanding the mission and vision of your business;
  • Having more confidence in taking risks in business;
  • Expanding your business through community support;

So if on one hand we are aware of the temptations that Jupiter in Capricorn might bring us, and on the other we focus on our business (Capricorn) and community life (Jupiter), everything will fall into place.

Letting the Door Open

We always need to remember that in Nature good or bad don’t really exist and that we are the creators of our own destiny. Transits are no more than a shift in the energies of the cosmos, so the most important thing is the way we react to them.

On top of that we should always be open to the divine powers that dwell beyond the plane of planets and stars. Life is full of secrets and forgotten mysteries, and the ways of the divine are infinite.

Thanks for reading!

Anthroposophy and Astrology — PART 2

Reading Time : 9 minutes

In PART 1 of this series of posts about Anthroposophy and Astrology, we have discussed about the Horoscope from an anthroposophical perspective. We have also talked about Steiner’s point of view on Astrology. We have pointed out the differences between spiritual science and symbolic interpretation, and explained why their approach is fundamentally different.

In this article we are going to tackle one of the main issues for astrologers interested in Anthroposophy. What is the “right zodiac” to use in astrological charts? This is an old debate in the astrological community. But what has Anthroposophy to say about it? Let’s jump right into it.

Tropical, Sidereal or Astronomical Zodiac?

Signs and constellations are not the same thing. Explaining the differences between Tropical and Sidereal Zodiac is not the purpose of this post, so if you are new to the topic you can deepen it further here. Long story short, we can say that zodiacal signs are not strictly speaking a group of stars (constellation) but a uniform division of the ecliptic into twelve segments. They depend on seasons, not on the actual position of the stars.

This is a very well known topic for astrologers. Tropical Zodiac is the zodiac that refers to signs, whereas Sidereal Zodiac—sidus meaning star—to constellations. Every year the two zodiacs slowly separate, to the point that right now they are one sign distant from each other (see the picture below).

Both zodiacs are used by ancient and respectable traditions. It would be inconclusive trying to demonstrate which is the “right zodiac”, simply because they are the result of different types of investigations. But what does Anthroposophy say about it? What’s the zodiac used by Rudolf Steiner?

The short answer is both. Rudolf Steiner not only used tropical and sidereal zodiac in his arguments, but he also gave specific indications about the usage of the actual Astronomical Zodiac. The Astronomical Zodiac is another way of looking at the Sidereal Zodiac, so this makes three zodiacs in total.

The Astonomical Zodiac

Let’s briefly explain what the Astronomical Zodiac is about.

The Sidereal Zodiac refers to the twelve classical constellations crossing the ecliptic. But even though the constellations have different sizes, the division of the ecliptic is still uniform: twelve slices of the same size. The Astronomical Zodiac instead divides it according to the actual extent of the constellations.

For example, try to compare in the blue ring below Aries—which is very small—to Virgo or Pisces—which are very large. As you can see the Astronomical Zodiac (in blue) is an uneven division of the ecliptic, whereas the Sidereal Zodiac (in purple) and Tropical Zodiac (in orange) divides the ecliptic evenly:

Three Zodiacs

Keeping in mind that something such as “the right zodiac” doesn’t make much sense, here’s some examples of when and how Steiner used different types of zodiac. If you know about other examples that are not in the list please write them on the comment section below. Any contribution is highly appreciated.

  • Tropical Zodiac:
    • The moment chosen for the laying of the foundation stone of the first Goetheanum in 1913 (the statement on the document doesn’t leave any doubt, see below);
    • The Twelve Moods presented in Dornach in 1915. Steiner’s description of the mood of Cancer, refers to the summer solstice (which would fall in Gemini on the Sidereal Zodiac): “If you take the mood in Cancer, for example, in which after the ascent there again follows the descent, where one has the feeling that the sun comes to rest for a moment […] there you will be able to feel something from the way in which the words within the Cancer verse are placed.“;
    • The Horoscope analysis of two albino children during two lectures on Curative Education in 1924 (see below);
  • Sidereal Zodiac:
    • Steiner’s division of The Platonic Year (12 times 2,160 or 25,920 years). Meaning that the division of the Sidereal Zodiac is uniform: “ … the time interval needed for the sun to progress from one constellation in the zodiac to the next is approximately 2,160 years, and this is important.” —The Destinies of Individuals and of Nations, 19 Jan. 1915;
  • Astronomical Zodiac:
    • The first edition of the Calendar of the Soul (Kalender 1912/1913) contains notes about the zodiac placement of the Sun and Moon. The position of the Sun is reported against the constellations. On the contrary, the position of the Moon refers to the tropical zodiac.
    • The Agriculture Course in Koberwitz, 1924. Clear indications where given about using actual astronomical constellations.

More than One Zodiac

In my opinion different zodiacs hold different meanings.

The Tropical Zodiac for example attunes us to the seasons. It allows us to clearly recognize in Nature the specific quality—or “mood”— of each sign. Take for example November, when the Sun is in Scorpio: we can feel outside the atmosphere of the twilight of the year and connect to it. We can easily understand why this sign is about death, mysteries and the occult. The same applies pretty much to all other zodiac signs.

I believe the Tropical Zodiac to mainly reflect dynamics occurring in the etheric body and in the astral body. Personally, I use it in my astrological analysis because I find it very accurate in describing what’s going on at that level. Again, this is just the way I use it so this doesn’t mean the tropical is “the right and only” way to go.

On the other hand, the Sidereal Zodiac connects us to the actual spiritual life of the stars. They are literally the bodies of the gods, and we can use them to deepen our understanding of the spiritual hierarchies. The equal division of the sky doesn’t alter the harmony of the cosmos that we would expect from spiritual realities. It also sheds light on the laws of reincarnation, and in this regard the work of Robert Powell—inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s research on spiritual individualities—is very interesting.

Lastly, the Astronomical Zodiac has been used for almost a century by biodynamic farmers. In particular, I’d like to remember Maria Thun’s work. Many efforts and experiments have been done to determine the exact boundaries of the constellations, looking at how the plant kingdom responds to them.

So if the Sidereal Zodiac is able to give us some clues about reincarnation—the relationship between the I and the physical body—the Astronomical Zodiac seems to be more fit in describing the relationship between the physical body and the etheric body.

The albino children natal chart

In 1924, during a couple of lectures on Curative Education Steiner discussed about albinism. With the aid of Dr. Elisabeth Vreede, he introduced the horoscopes of two sisters affected by this condition. Going through the charts he explained how the etheric body of the children was affected by the natal position of the Moon and Mars.

As far as I know, this is the only documented case in which Steiner explicitly uses astrological charts. The gallery of images reported below clearly shows that Steiner refers to the Tropical Zodiac in his analysis.

Tomorrow we will speak about the other cases that you have at Lauenstein, and I shall be particularly glad to be able to consider with you the interesting phenomenon of albinism, which we have opportunity to study in two of your children. One of them is fifteen years old and the other a much younger sister of hers.

(Dr. Steiner asked Dr. Vreede [the original leader of the Mathematical-Astronomical Section at the Goetheanum] if she had drawn their horoscopes, and she handed them to him. The dates were 6th December, 1909, approximately 4 a.m., and 18th May, 1921, approximately 3 a.m., both at Jena.) How does Uranus stand? Did you not find any special constellations? (Dr. Vreede replied that she had — namely with Uranus and Neptune. In the case of the elder girl, Neptune was in opposition to Uranus.)

5th July, 1924 – Curative Education Lecture 10

As you can see we have birth day, time and location of the children. This allows us to verify Steiner’s statements about their horoscopes.

The First Horoscope

Let’s take the first horoscope. Talking about the Moon Steiner said:

Take first this horoscope (of the elder sister). […]

Mars stands in complete opposition to the Moon.

Mars, which has Venus and Uranus in its vicinity, stands — itself — in strong opposition to the Moon. Here is the Moon and here is Mars. And Mars pulls along with it Uranus and Venus. And now I would ask you to pay careful attention also to the fact that the Moon is at the same time standing before Libra.

6th July, 1924 – Curative Education Lecture 11

Let’s take a look to the charts. We expect to find Mars in opposition to the Moon in Libra. Is it the tropical Libra or the sidereal one? In the pictures below we can compare the tropical and the sidereal horoscopes; in addition we also have a simulation of the sky at the same date and location rendered with the software Stellarium . This gives us the astronomical position of the Moon.

As you can see none of those cases show the Moon exactly in Libra. This could be due to the approximate time of birth, or to calculation errors made by Elisabeth Vreede. However, the case that comes closest is the tropical one, where the Moon is about entering Libra. On the contrary, in both the sidereal and astronomical scenarios we are getting farther from it. In the astronomical scenario you can clearly see that the Moon is standing before the constellation of Virgo. No doubt about that.

The Second Horoscope

Let’s take now the second horoscope. Luckily, in this case we get a clearer picture about the position of the Moon. Steiner said:

On this second horoscope, Mars, Venus and Uranus are in close proximity, exactly as before; but when we examine more nearly the position of Mars, we find it is not, as before, in complete opposition to the Moon. It is however very nearly so. Although the younger child does not come in for a complete opposition, there is an approximation to opposition.

But what strikes us as still more remarkable is that when we come to make our observation of the Moon, we discover she is again in Libra — while being at the same time, as we have seen, almost in opposition to Mars, which latter drags Uranus and Venus along with it.

6th July, 1924 – Curative Education Lecture 11

So again we are looking for a Moon in Libra. Let’s take a look:

Now, the situation here refers without any doubt to the Tropical Zodiac. As you can see both the sidereal and astronomical positions of the Moon are in Virgo. Meaning that in the analysis of the etheric body of these children Rudolf Steiner used a classic Tropical Zodiac based horoscope.

The Laying of the foundation stone of the first Goetheanum

The laying of the foundation stone of a building is not a mere symbolic moment: it is the very birth of the building itself. This moment was reported on the parchment paper in the picture below, which is the document signed by the attendees during the event. I would like to link this important article that I found online that definitely helped me with this research.

Parchment document of the laying stone of the first Goetheanum

Quoting the article, the statement on the lower part of the document translated from German says:

This Stone we lower into the kingdom of the condensed elements as symbol of the force for which we endeavour to strive through 3, 5, 7, 12, laid by the Johannes-Bau Verein, Dornach, on the 20th day of September 1880 after the Mystery of Golgotha, that is 1913 after the birth of Christ, when Mercury as the evening star stood in Libra.

Source: https://tinyurl.com/wld967u

Again, verifying which zodiac has been used is very simple. Let’s take a look at the position of Mercury on the evening of the 20th of September 1913—when the parchment document was signed.

As you can see only in the tropical zodiac scenario (first picture) Mercury had just entered Libra. In the other two it is in Virgo and between Leo and Virgo, respectively.

Now, the position of Mercury clearly has a very important meaning. From an astrological perspective, it is what we call an election: choosing the best moment for an operation to take place, looking at the position of the stars and their influence on earth. Technically speaking this is a magical operation, and yes—I do believe Steiner knew exactly what he was doing,.

Some people refer to that statement as a symbolic moment—a vow to the spiritual world—as Elisabeth Vreede called it. I disagree. My take on this is that focusing on spiritual science, Steiner referred to something real and not merely symbolic. It wasn’t a vow, or a message to the spiritual world, or just an abstract symbol. It was an occult process, a real operation in the subtle realities, reported in the parchment paper on a specific date and time.

In conclusion

As astrologers and anthroposophers we feel the need for a unified system. Being able to bridge the hermetic current—of which Astrology is part—with Anthroposophy is no easy task. This series is a small contribute that goes in that direction.

This article turned out to be very long. For the sake of this series I am going to talk about the inversion of Mercury and Venus on PART 3. Thank you very much for reading, and if you are interested in the upcoming articles please subscribe to the mailing list through the toolbar on the top of this website.

Anthroposophy and Astrology — PART 1

Reading Time : 9 minutes

If you are reading this article most likely you are going to find what you’re looking for in this series of posts. Many people have the interest—sometimes the urge—to answer to many issues regarding Astrology in the light of Anthroposophy. Do know that you’re not alone.

In this first article I am going to touch the main issues that any anthroposopher interested in Astrology would stumble upon. The same applies to any astrologer concerned about what Anthroposophy has to say in regards to this hermetic art. There are indeed a few controversial topics that need to be clarified and this series of articles goes in that direction.

Please also note that this is part of a research: any valuable piece of information you might have to contribute—or deny—the content of this post is highly appreciated. We’re all seeking the truth.

The Horoscope

First of all we need to understand whether Astrology is plausible or not from an anthroposophical perspective. As any practitioner knows, Astrology holds its foundation in a very simple principle: the life of anything born on earth is described by the configuration of the sky at the moment of its birth.

Astrology is the art of interpreting this sky configuration (the astrological chart) to get a better understanding of the object of our investigation. Potentially, this could be literally anything: a person, a dog, a tree, a marriage, a company, etc. Their astrological chart describes both their life and potential.

From an anthroposophical standpoint, it does exist a strong connection between a person and the heavens at the moment of birth. This quote from Rudolf Steiner will dispel any doubt:

“Now it is the active forces of the stellar world that impel a man into physical incarnation; and when clairvoyant consciousness observes a person, it can perceive in his organization how this has resulted from the co-operation of cosmic forces. And if one were to photograph a person’s brain at the moment of birth and then photograph also the heavens lying exactly over the person’s birthplace, this latter picture would be of exactly the same appearance as that of the human brain. As certain centres were arranged in the latter, so would the stars be in the photograph of the heavens. Man has within himself a picture of the heavens, and every man has a different one, according to whether he was born in this place or that, and at this or that time. This is one indication that man is born from out of the whole cosmos.”

Spiritual Guidance of Mankind: Lecture III, 8 June 1911

In this passage Steiner clearly and undeniably confirms the validity of the aforementioned astrological principle, specifically in regard to human beings. In my research I’ve never found such a clear statement about something else—plants, animals, a marriage, or a company for example.

However all Steiner’s instructions regarding biodynamic agriculture point out the importance of the appropriate moment for sowing according to the position of the stars. This also applies to other operations such transplanting or cropping, but sowing better reflects this principle.

Regarding non physical beings (marriage, company and such), we will return on this later on discussing about the laying of the foundation stone of the first Goetheanum. For now we can all agree on the fact that Anthroposophy validates the foundational principle of the natal chart or horoscope.

The First Goetheanum
THE FIRST GOETHEANUM

Steiner’s point of view on Astrology

Even though Steiner confirmed the basic principle of astrology he had always wanted to distance himself from it. This quote is a perfect example of how on one hand he implied the validity of Astrology, but on the other he was discrediting it:

“The truth underlying the casting of a horoscope is that those who know these things can read the forces which determine a person’s physical existence. A certain horoscope is allotted to a person because, within it, those forces find expression which have led him into being. If for example, in the horoscope, Mars stands over Aries (the Ram) that signifies that certain of the Aries forces are not allowed to pass through —and are weakened. Thus is a man put into his place within physical existence, and it is in accordance with his horoscope that he guides himself before entering upon earthly existence.

This subject, which in our times seems so much a thing of chance should not be touched upon without our attention being called to the fact that nearly everything practiced in this connection today is simply dilettantism—a pure superstition—and that for the external world the true science of these matters has been for the most part completely lost. Consequently, the principal things which have been said here are not to be judged according to that which nowadays frequently leads a questionable existence under the name Astrology.

Spiritual Guidance of Mankind: Lecture III, 8 June 1911

If the Mars in Aries passage left you confused we are going to discuss it later. For now let’s stick to Steiner’s words on Astrology: dilettantism, pure superstition, leading a questionable existence. They are harsh words, to the point that saying he is belittling it is an euphemism.

But why? How is it that Steiner apparently seems to be so much against such an ancient and respectable tradition?

Spiritual Science vs Symbolic Interpretation

First of all, we need to understand that all Steiner’s efforts were focused on the development of a real spiritual science. This is very important to consider.

As a leader in this completely unexplored field, he wanted people to start developing the means (clairvoyant organs of perception) to have direct spiritual experiences by themselves. In other words, if you want to address to cosmic laws as a spiritual researcher:

  1. You have to experience them directly. You can’t scientifically investigate phenomena you are not able to see. So if you aren’t a clairvoyant you can’t speak from a spiritual science perspective;
  2. You need to have a scientific mindset. Even though you might be able to perceive those forces, in order to study them in anthroposophical terms you need to embrace a scientific mindset.

As you can imagine this is not only very hard, but in Steiner’s words also very advanced.

This has to do with the degrees of higher knowledge which—in Spiritual Science—are, in order: imaginative consciousness, inspirational consciousness and intuitive consciousness. For those who didn’t know them, intuitive consciousness is the most difficult to develop. In this regard, understanding what Steiner means with the term intuitive, he says:

How does Theosophy regard astrology? In the first place it must be said that at the present time people have little idea what astrology really is. For what often appears as astrology nowadays in handbooks is a purely external collection of rules whose deeper foundations are not anywhere explained. Methods of calculation are given, by which one can calculate the constellations of the stars for a person’s moment of birth or for the time of another important event.

Then it is stated that these constellations mean this or that, though one never learns from these indications why this should all be so, or even how it could be so. It is no wonder, therefore, that people today see all this as nonsense, swindle, and superstition. For it all appears to be quite arbitrary, to be assertions that are completely made up.
The real astrology, however, is quite an intuitive science and demands of those who wish to practice it the development of higher supersensible powers of knowledge. These powers can be present today in very few persons. If one were to set forth the basic character of astrology, one would have to consider, in the light of spiritual science, the highest cosmological problems. For this reason only a few, ordinary aspects can be mentioned here. 

[…]

So it happens that astrological writings, even though they are of such obscure origin, always contain pearls of wisdom to be found by the person capable of intuition—but indeed only by such a person.

Certainly astrological laws rest upon intuitions in comparison with which the knowledge of reincarnation and karma is still very elementary.

Issue 28 of the journal Luzifer-Gnosis

Now, the practice of Astrology is based on the interpretation of symbols, not on a direct observation of cosmic forces. It is true that speculating on a chart is very different from a real scientific understanding of the underlying phenomenon it represents. However, throwing the baby out with the bathwater in my opinion doesn’t make any sense especially because—even though only indirectly—astrological laws can be tested.

This might not be completely scientific, nevertheless it has a technical aspect to it. And this is undeniable.

An astrological chart

Astrology has changed

To better understand Steiner’s attitude we also need to understand that the type of astrology practiced at the time was very different from modern psychological Astrology. Classical astrology is very valuable, but its main focus was describing the outer conditions of the native. The psychological and spiritual dimensions of the individual were basically lacking.

Let’s take some examples. Of course my intention is not to denigrate classical astrology, but to point out its focus on external circumstances. For this reason I am going to roughly translate from a very renowned italian website—Cielo e Terra—some quotes from hellenistic astrologers about Mercury opposite Moon:

MERCURY OPPOSITE MOON

Dorotheus: “Indicates disagreements, public disputes; whoever is born will be the object of great defamation and will be shy in speaking.”
Anubio: “It raises the discord of the majority, popular dissent and clamor and makes those who have no courage in words.”
Valens: “The one who is born has a changing will in the things predicted and is treated with ingratitude in his actions and therefore receives damage from those to whom he joins.”

As you can see these statements are all very practical, easily verifiable and external. But none of them talks about issues regarding the relationship between emotions (Moon) and communication (Mercury). The inner dimension is not taken into account.

This doesn’t mean these statements are wrong. In anthroposophical terms we would say that they were suitable to the stage of development of men of that time. But now for almost a century modern astrology has strongly shifted the focus from external circumstances to psychological dynamics.

This means that we are not only interested in what might happen outwardly but also in why that might be so. We are looking for the inner causes of external effects. And we know that sometimes those effects might not even manifest outside.

Astrology has evolved into a suitable tool for the modern man. It is a product of its time and it reflects current human needs and issues. The astrology criticized by Rudolf Steiner is not the Astrology we practice today. Even though it is very different from a direct clairvoyant investigation we can nevertheless use it as a tool in our efforts to enlighten the human soul. Thousands of astrologers and serious researchers do it every day.

Steiner’s quote about the Horoscope and the Soul

Since we discussed about Astrology as a tool to research the human soul, I want to focus now on a very important quote I’ve found in the book Horoscope Handbook by Adrian Anderson Phd (you can visit his website at this link). Let’s jump straight to it:

“The horoscope which has been cast for thousands of years for the individual corresponded with infallible exactitude to the soul ….”

From an archive lecture, not in the German Complete Works, from Feb. 2nd 1911

The quote is at page 5 of Anderson’s book and I reported it exactly as in the book (both text and source).

As you can see this is a very important quote. Not only because it confirms—again—the validity of the horoscope but also because 1. it addresses specifically to the human Soul and 2. it indirectly confirms the use of the tropical zodiac (we are going to discuss it in PART 2).

I really wanted to find the conference of February 2nd 1911 at this point. But for some reason I couldn’t find it anywhere! With this goal in mind I emailed Mr. Anderson, asking him where I could find it. This was his reply that I was given permission to publish:

The lecture mentioned in my Lost Horoscope book is not available in English (so far as I know); and it is probably not even in the Gesamtausgabe. It was only once printed: in 1945 in Dornach  in the ”Wochenschrift”.
I have one of these original 1945 newsletters in the Archive section of my library. The date of the lecture is incorrectly given in the newsletter as 2nd Feb., it was actually given Feb 1st. So that makes it even harder to find.
The situation is, that  only a few pages of notes were written printed; so there is nothing else reported from the lecture about horoscopes – even though it appears that most of the lecture was about astrology.
So very regrettable that the notes are incomplete.
I can assure you that the quote which I give in my book is all there is in the notes about this topic.

Adrian Anderson Phd — email sent on October 20, 2019

The Gesamtausgabe is the German Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner, whereas the Wochenschrift is the weekly bulletin of the Goetheanum.

Apparently we can’t say much more about this quote for now. Further research would need to consult directly Steiner’s archives in Dornach. If any reader had the opportunity to visit it, please contact me. That would be a precious contribution to this research.

What we can say at this point

This is just the first part of a series of articles on the topic. For now we can say that the impulse given by Steiner in regards to the study of cosmic forces goes in the direction of a new spiritual science.

However, when it comes to the application of the results of those investigations, a completely different scenario opens.

In the next article we are going to discuss about Steiner’s use of the horoscope of two albino children during two lectures on Curative Education in 1924. We also going to deepen some controversial questions such as the validity of the tropical zodiac and the supposed inversion of the planets Mercury and Venus.

If you don’t want to miss them please subscribe to the newsletter on the top bar of this website. Thank you very much for reading.

Aside Posts

Reading Time : < 1 minute

Hi guys, it’s been a long time.

I’ve started working on my blog again and major changes are coming soon. First of all I want to personally enjoy this blog more. To do that I’ve decided to use WordPress aside posts.

Asides are short posts used as notes, ideas, quick updates and stuff like that. They should have a different style to be immediately recognizable. I am going to use this post as a little experiment, so you might see it styled differently these days as I’m working on it.

I want to leave you with this quote a friend of mine told me: “there is no better key than the will of opening a door” (Hasier Agirre).

Stay tuned! 🙏

Boldness Has Genius, Power, and Magic in It

Reading Time : 2 minutesCommitment, hiking These words are very powerful. The first time I read them I was in that period of time when you are seriously asking yourself what you want to do with your life. I did dare, but when I jumped Providence catched me, holding me back in a very strange way. I knew then that was not the right time. Even though things didn’t go the way I wanted, a couple of years later I was able to link the dots. Now I can see why I was delayed (I don’t give up). The strange thing about all this is that you can understand the big picture only with time. Spirit (awareness) comes from the future. Be inspired by this beautiful piece written by Murray on his way to Mount Everest in 1951.

Commitment by W.N. Murray

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth,the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

Have a good week 🙏 PS: Thanks Carlo for remembering me this!

Jupiter in Scorpio – A Philosopher Walking Alone in the Mist

Reading Time : 2 minutesI look at the Sun. My eyes closed, I can feel the warmth on my face as a blessing. The winds of fall have come, and the sunlight shines weaker full of nostalgia. Candles are lit, little beacons in the night that grows stronger.

Jupiter has entered Scorpio. Which kind of wisdom lies in the shadows? What can we learn from darkness? The swamp transforms everything by means of its secret fire. But its stinging mud is a mystery to us. Still, we are asked to dare and have faith: beneath the smelly dirt the treasures of the earth are waiting for the brave.

A philosopher walks alone in the mist. He carries an orange-gold lamp that illuminates his thick beard. His eyes are deep as the secrets he keeps. A silent man who’s alone only because few are willing to follow him. Still, he is smiling full of confidence and trust: death is just an illusion.

We die to ourselves again and again. Change is the little death that chases our shadow. But what if we were actually able to master change? Uncertainty wouldn’t be so painful and the croak of anxiety in our head would stop. Maybe.

A skull as a symbol for Jupiter in Scorpio

Jupiter in Scorpio

Expansion in the depths of the Underworld. Exploring the Unconscious. To dare, to risk. Tasting taboos. Testing the extremes. Learning how black can turn into white, coal into diamonds. Rescuing life forces stuck in hell. Dosing sufferance for the greater good. Occult powers and knowledge. Experience from confronting the shadow. This if all goes well.

Otherwise the landing might be rough. To the negative, Jupiter in Scorpio becomes the door for nasty exaggeration. Plunged into psychic swamps. Narcissistic mind-games. Sex addiction and dysfunctional relationships. Spiritual intoxication. Black magic. Wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing. Financial manipulation. Power over ethics. Abusing elites. Poisonous truths. Political blackmailing. Blood for oil.

A Philosophy of Darkness

Without Sloth we would not rest. Respect your body.

Without Envy we would not be looking for who we really are. Find yourself.

Without Lust we would not be interested in others. Consider other people.

Without Pride we would not stand up for ourselves. Know your worth.

Without Rage we would not be looking for justice. Do what it takes.

Without Gluttony we would not feel the emptiness of what is meaningless. Search for meaning.

Without Avarice we would not restrain ourselves. Discipline yourself.