Vox stellarum: part one

The Voice of the Stars: the testament of the Zodiac unveiled


In this new investigation in thirteen parts we aim to reconcile Astrology with its lost sibling — Astronomy — and so attempt to restore something of the Wisdom they embodied when they were one, unified Science. It is impossible to say exactly when or why they were parted after this immense lapse of time, though the advent of the Christian Church and the subsequent rise of its nemesis — scientific materialism — both played their ignominious part in the schism. We need to go back at least as far as 18th Dynasty Egypt some 3,500 years ago to obtain a glimpse of the vast scope and depth of what we may rightly call the Science of the Stars. But even then it was a shadow of what it had been ages earlier when the Great Pyramid was built which, according to H. P. Blavatsky and others, was at least 80,000 years ago.

As we proceed with our investigation we will catch glimpses here and there of the very great wisdom which has been lost over the many millennia since this Royal Art was first brought to Egypt, India, China and other parts of the world by the colonists and later, survivors, of the lost continent of Atlantis. Along the way we shall discover just how little modern Astrology understands of the Science of the Stars of which it was once a part. Likewise, we shall learn that despite space telescopes, orbiting satellites and 'super' computers, modern Astronomy has lost more than it has gained in pursuing its soulless, mechanistic view of the Universe. There are, of course exceptions to this. The late Carl Sagan is one notable example of those few, thinking astronomers who see beyond the ends of their superior noses to the wonder, mystery and grandeur of the starry firmament which has fascinated and awed man throughout human history.

As always, this investigation has been split into two separate but complimentary narratives. Firstly an analysis of the twelve Zodiacal constellations together with their corresponding Sun-signs, something which, to the best of our knowledge has never been attempted before. Secondly, in our Afterword in the Sidebar, we explore the extra-Zodiacal constellations which lie above and below the ecliptic — the astronomical term for the apparent path that the Sun, Moon, and planets take through the stars as viewed from Earth. It is important to make it quite clear now that the Zodiacal Signs — the so-called Sun-signs which are the subject of 'horoscope' columns in newspapers and magazines — are not the same as the Zodiacal Constellations they are named after, such as Aries, Leo, Libra, etc. Don't worry if you don't understand the difference; we will explain this shortly as simply as we can.

We would also like to make it clear that this investigation is not a treatise on Astronomy or Astrology. It is what our title says it is: Vox Stellarum or the Voice of Stars: the testament of the Zodiac unveiled, insofar as this is possible or permissible. For there are certain facts of an occult nature in connection with Astrology which have been wisely kept secret as they could do great harm if they were known and fully understood. The late Dennis Elwell, a British astrologer whom we mentioned in our article on Astrology published in 2014, said anent this: "If the odious Sun-sign columns have a value, it is to persuade everybody that Astrology is just a bit of fun. They serve as a smoke screen. In fact Astrology is dangerous knowledge, which could be devastating in the wrong hands. Perhaps it is better for people to be kept in ignorance." We agree with these sensible words. Hence, you will not find any information in this investigation about predicting the manner and hour of someone's death, periods of ill-health, financial successes or disasters, though we know well enough how to calculate these things, just as Dennis Elwell did. So, if you were hoping for tips on how to win the lottery using astrological methods, or make a 'killing' on the stock market, you will be doomed to disappointment.

It was the abuses resulting from some of the secrets of the Royal Art leaking out over the centuries that brought Astrology into disrepute. A process that reached its nadir during the so-called 'Age of Enlightenment' and helped to divorce it even further from Astronomy, constituting a stain upon its original nobility and purity from which it has never fully recovered. Indeed, the taint remains so strong that no contemporary scientist who wishes to keep his or her position or reputation would dare to express any sympathy for, much less belief in, Astrology. Nonetheless, we can assure any scientists who do read these articles that they will lose nothing of value from doing so, and may gain more than they realize.

We said just now that the aim of this investigation is to unveil the testament of the Zodiac; to decipher, as it were, the message which is written in the stars. For know, dear reader, that the Heavens tell a story in pictorial and symbolic form. It is the greatest story ever written; a story of triumph and disaster, of love and hate, rags and riches, bottomless sorrow and eternal happiness. It is the story of every man and every woman who ever entered into incarnation on Earth or shall do so in times to come. The writer is none other than the Author of All who, in His infinite Wisdom has engraved the Mystery of Man's evolution from Brute to Angel and beyond in the firmament of the stars. These blazing orbs of light weave a tapestry that conceals the origin and destiny of all things, living and dead, animate and inanimate, in a moving picture show that all can see every night but that few can read, and even fewer understand.

We do not pretend to be able to read every glittering line of that sidereal scroll. Nor construe the meaning of all the cryptic characters which make up the canvas of the night sky as our woeful speck of dust turns beneath it day by day. At best we may hope to lift a corner of the veil that shrouds these great Mysteries of God. More cannot be attempted within the time and space available to us. Even if this investigation were expanded a thousand-fold it would still be inadequate to unveil the complete testimony of the Zodiac. This cannot be known in full by any man or woman, however wise or accomplished, for it remains the secret of the Father of All. If we can but open the eyes of a few readers to the message which is written in the stars and so aid them in their journey on the path to the Light, we shall be well content.


The Zodiac explained

We said that we would explain the difference between the twelve Signs of the Zodiac and the Zodiacal Constellations they are named after. The professional astrologers among our readers may skip this section if they wish, but we ask them to be patient for the benefit of those readers who know little or nothing about Astronomy or Astrology. We will begin with a brief explanation of the phenomena known as the precession of the equinoxes. This astronomical phenomenon describes the gradual shift in the orientation of the Earth's axis of rotation in a recurring cycle of approximately 25,920 years. We can observe a similar effect in a child's spinning top where the axis or pole points to a different position in space as it spins round. Now, the Zodiac comprises the twelve constellations which fall within the ecliptic which is the apparent path that the Sun, Moon, and planets trace through the stars as viewed from Earth. Picture the ecliptic if you will as an imaginary circle surrounding our planet which is tilted over at an angle of approximately 23 degrees with respect to the equator. The lowest point marks the Winter solstice when the Sun is at its lowest point in the sky in the northern hemisphere, whilst the highest point marks the Summer solstice when the Sun is at its highest point in the sky in the northern hemisphere. The two points where the ecliptic crosses the equator mark the Spring and Autumnal equinoxes. These are the only two times in the year, in March and September when there are an equal number of hours of darkness and light everywhere on Earth. Hence the Latin term 'equinox' which means equal night. If the picture is still not clear, consult a diagram, there are plenty to be found online and in books about Astronomy and Astrology.

The Zodiac is a belt-shaped region of the sky that extends approximately 8° north or south of the ecliptic. In Western Astrology, and formerly Astronomy, this is divided into twelve equal segments of 30 degrees of celestial longitude, and 12 x 30 = 360, the number of degrees in a circle. These 12 segments were named after the twelve major constellations around the ecliptic, Aries, Taurus, etc., because they roughly coincided with them in the past. However, as we saw earlier, the phenomena of precession causes the positions of the south and north celestial poles of the Earth to appear to move in circles against the backdrop of stars, completing, you will remember, one circuit in approximately 25,920 years. Hence the apparent position of the Sun relative to the stars slowly regresses a full 360° through all twelve traditional constellations of the Zodiac (the twelve so-called 'Sun-signs'), at the rate of about one degree every 72 years. This means that the twelve Signs of the Zodiac that once coincided with the Constellations of the same name, no longer do so. Over a period of 2,160 years this misalignment is roughly equal to one Zodiacal Sign. But there is a further complication.

We said just now that astrologers divide the Zodiac into 12 equal segments of 30 degrees of celestial longitude. This is an arbitrary division since the constellation Virgo covers 46 degrees of the sky while the constellation Cancer measures only four degrees long across the ecliptic. Over time the meaning of the constellations was transferred to the Signs of the Zodiac. So we can say that although Astrology as we know it today is probably no older than the 7th century B.C., the meaning attached to the twelve Sun-signs is considerably older. Quite how old no one now knows and we are not going to speculate. Though when we look at ancient star charts such as that preserved at Dendera in Egypt (see illustration at the top of the sidebar), the figurations of the Zodiacal Signs are nearly the same as the glyphs we know today, such as the Ram, the Bull, the Twins, the Crab, the Lion, the Archer, and so on and so forth.

These concepts were set down in the second century A.D. by Claudius Ptolemy in the Tetrabiblos, the first textbook of Western astrologers, still consulted today. Ptolemy adopted an astronomical calculation concerning the starting point of the Zodiac which resulted in a fictitious moving (tropical) Zodiac which subsequently became the basis of modern Western Astrology. Hence, the Sun-signs in use today no longer relate to the constellations from which they derive their name and meaning. But this in no way negates the value of Astrology as an art and a science. In short, although the body no longer resembles its parent, the Spirit that animates them both remains unchanged. This is proved by the fact that Vedic or Hindu Astrology, also called Jyotisha or Jyotishya, which is based on a much closer association of the twelve Signs with their parent constellations and which uses the fixed (sidereal) Zodiac delivers the same predictive and interpretative results as the moving or tropical Zodiac used in the West. Readers who wish to explore this subject further will find no shortage of online and offline resources devoted to the differences between Western and Indian Astrology.

Before we conclude this explanation it is important to mention that there are many more than twelve constellations which fall outside the narrow band of the ecliptic. The 48 traditional Western constellations are Greek. They are given in Aratus' work Phenomena and Ptolemy's Almagest, though their origin, as we suggested earlier, almost certainly predates these works by many millennia. Some constellations in the far southern sky were added from the 15th century until the mid-18th century when European explorers began travelling to the Southern Hemisphere. Modern astronomers recognise no less than 88 constellations, only twelve of which fall within the belt of the Zodiac — our so-called 'Sun-signs' from Aries to Pisces. In addition, astronomers also recognise star groupings called asterisms which are used to navigate the night sky. An asterism may consist of several stars within a particular constellation, such as the Pleiades or 'Seven Sisters' within the constellation Taurus or Praesepe, also known as the 'manger', within the constellation Cancer, or be formed from stars in more than one constellation, such as the diamond-shaped 'False Cross' in the southern hemisphere. There are far too many of these to analyse in this investigation, but we shall consider those which have a direct bearing on our subject, as well as those extra-Zodiacal constellations which mark important places in the enigmatic scroll of the stars. So, without further delay, let us begin our journey of discovery which begins with a short Proem; that is a preamble or prelude to the main narrative.

Proem: the Testament of the Zodiac

We are stardust, we are golden, and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.
chorus from Woodstock, a song written in 1970 by Canadian singer-songwriter, Joni Mitchell

In these few words which may be familiar to some of our older readers, the songwriter has captured the essence of the testament of the Zodiac. We are, each one of us, composed of 'stardust' both literally and figuratively. We are also 'golden' inasmuch as our life comes to us from the Sun which sustains all things and beings within its compass. The 'garden' is the Source, whether we regard this as an actual place or state of mind, from which we first descended into incarnation on Earth. Our task, assuming we choose to evolve, is to return to that Source, enriched with the wisdom of experience that can only be acquired on Earth. The twelve Signs of the Zodiac depict in graphic detail the stages in that epic journey. Each Sign has certain characteristics as we shall see. Each too has certain lessons to teach us and all have their positive and negative sides, so conforming to the Hermetic Law of Polarity. In addition, our testament has four major divisions, each comprising three Signs. Each of these divisions marks an important milestone on the journey Home. These divisions were known to the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and others but have since been ignored in favour of a purely psychological understanding of Astrology. Our regular readers will recall that we discussed this in our article on Astrology in which we wrote: "In short, today psychology has replaced Astrology, or perhaps 'displaced' would be more accurate. What little is left of the Royal Art is like a walking corpse from whom the Spirit of Truth has long since fled." In reviving such doctrines as that of the ancient division of the Zodiac into four distinct sections, each with its own special meaning, we hope to restore some of the lost keys of Astrology. But ere we discuss these divisions, let us conclude our Proem.

The testament to be unrolled and explained is not a linear journey. It is not a simple passage from 'A' to 'Z' or from Aries to Pisces. On the contrary, the traveller who would return to the Garden must retrace their steps many times during the almost countless lifetimes it takes to reach their destination. Each Sign is a gateway through which we enter this world. But next time we may enter through a different gateway. Or we may pass through the same one several times, or skip one or more gateways. It all depends on where we are upon our individual evolutionary path; what we have learned and what we still need to learn; what we have gained and what we have lost, as well as what we have done or left undone during previous lives on Earth. But whichever gateway we enter, we come under the sway of one of the aforementioned divisions it falls within. These divisions are: Foundation, Resurrection, Judgement and Consummation.

The four-fold testament

The whole of the First Division answers, as no other division does, to the Foundation story of the complete House of the Zodiac, a true Stone, on which the rest has been raised. This division consists of the Signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini, but Taurus, being the central figure, is the most important of the three. In its zootype as the Heavenly Bull it sounds the dominant note of the whole group and gives it its total character. Each of these three Signs is concerned with building of some kind; Aries with innovation; Taurus with construction; and Gemini with reconstruction and reconciliation. We shall come back to this later on in our investigation.

The Second Division of the testament consists of Cancer, Leo and Virgo. All three Signs are concerned with Resurrection and form the central division of the Zodiac. None of the three ever speaks of death, but all of resurrection, of royalty and victory. Jesus, as we learned from John Temple's superb analysis of the Biblical story of the Nativity, was born in a manger, standing in a hidden manner for the lovely cluster of stars in the constellation Cancer called 'Praesepe'. This Latin word means not only a 'hive' but also a 'Manger' or 'Crib'. The classical astronomer Ptolemy called it "the nebulous mass in the breast of Cancer." This immediately connects it with Motherhood and the mother of the saviour to be, for the Sign Cancer has always been associated with Motherhood from the earliest times.

Leo, as every astrologer knows, is the Lion of the Zodiac. The chief star of the Constellation is Alpha Leonis, standing for the heart of the royal Lion. Two very important names for this star are Regulus, the diminutive of Rex in Latin, and Basiliskos, meaning a little king in Greek. Both show Him as the small, or young Lion. This at once connects the star and the Sign with the Egyptian Horus in his two guises or phases, as the Elder King and younger Prince. For there was not one Horus in the Egyptian Mythos, but two; the elder and the younger. One is the God in Spirit and the other his reflection in matter, or the true Soul dwelling on High and the Higher Self imprisoned in matter as we explained in part eleven of Spiritus Hermeticum.

The final Sign in this division is Virgo. This represents the Great Spiritual Mother of All, while Cancer represents Her reflection in matter, whether we regard this as the human mother, or the principle that presides over birth, reincarnation and resurrection. The Arabs called Virgo the 'Constellation of the Spike' (of wheat). In doing so they followed the tradition of the Chaldean Magi who called Virgo the Constellation of the Spike, or Ear of Corn. This has a double meaning. In one phase of the stellar mythos, Virgo casts the seed, and in the other she gathers it in. We can see this depicted in representations of the Egyptian goddess Net or Neith who carries a spike of wheat in her hand.

The Third Division of the Zodiac consists of Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius, and has been regarded as the symbol of Judgement by both the Jews and the Egyptians. The whole of this part of the Zodiac is opposite to the first division, the centre of which you will recall is the Foundation stone or Taurus. It is during the third month of the first division that the 'bricks' were made for the foundation of the City. This is reflected in the Babylonian names of the stars of Libra, such as Ni meaning 'altar', and Dub meaning mount or hill. It is a strange fact that Libra is the only one of the Twelve Signs that is not an original Constellation. It is also the only one that does not represent a living creature. Yet nothing could be more emblematic of Judgement than the Scales of Libra. Those of you who have read our article on the Egyptian mystery of the Weighing of the Heart will recall that the scales form an important part of the judgement scene in the Hall of Truth.

The original Sign for Libra has been thought to be a Dove; and it is also believed that long ago the Sign Scorpio was cut in two, in order to make up for the lost Sign. For the claws of the Scorpion were at one time extended over the space now filled by Libra, so as to form for the seventh month a distinct Constellation called Chelai, or 'the Claws'. The memory of this is preserved in the Arabic names of the stars of Libra, such as Zuben el Genubi Janib (the Southern Claw), Beta Zuben el Chamali (the Northern Claw); and Zuben el Hakrabi (the Claw of the Scorpion).

H. P. Blavatsky, among others tells us that Scorpio and Virgo were once upon a time one Sign. It is possible to interpret the meaning of the absent and the present Scales by regarding Scorpio as the lower mind, and Virgo as the Higher Mind. There is judgement between these two at the proper time, as we learned in the aforementioned article. Or, we can say that the Scorpion represents the Higher Mind, and the pure Virgin, the Divine Soul. Again, there is judgement between these two at the proper moment too. Shall they join, or not? Let the Scales decide. The Scales which will weigh the thoughts, and works, and words of the Scorpion, whether he is the Higher, or the lower mind.

The final Sign in this division — the ninth in the sequence of the Zodiac — is Sagittarius the Archer. As the last of the three judgement Signs it closes the judgement and unites the darkness to the Light; the time of death to the time of life which follows after death. The Archer is a Centaur, half man, half horse. The judgement is the time of war in the smaller or the larger sense, whether it is the judgement of the Self, or the judgement of all. The arrow of the archer is poised, ready to be shot forth at the foe, whether that foe is the lower or Higher Mind, or the hordes of evil of the lower worlds, or of evil men. Moreover, the arrow is pointed at the Scorpion which, as we have seen, in one sense represents the lower mind.

The Fourth Division is concerned with Consummation and comprises Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Its central Sign is Aquarius, the man with the watering-urn, pouring out water into the mouth of a fish. This fish is Piscis Australis, also called Piscis Austrinus, in which the star Formalhaut appears. The Greeks and Romans both called Aquarius Hydro-choös, "the water-pourer"; and the Arabs Burj ad dalu, meaning the Constellation of the Pitcher or Urn.

This final division follows close on that of the Judgement Signs, Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius. It represents the fourth part of the Divine Plan when the work of creating and making the Temple of God is completed. This is the temple 'not built by hands' mentioned in the Bible. This represents the entire Universe as we see it depicted in the starry firmament, a fitting habitation for the gods. For as we say in the sidebar to our Occult Studies Course article on Evolution, Man is a god in the making, and the Zodiac is an accurate map of his descent into matter and ascension into Spirit.

Here, in the closing of the Great Circle of the Zodiac, life touches death. It began with death; it ends with life. The first division was as full of death as the last is full of life. The Lamb who was metaphorically slain in Aries, is now become the Shepherd who leads His flock to Eternal Life in the Spirit. The image of living water, which pervades this fourth division, and only this division, is therefore most appropriate. The fish seen in Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces, indicate the Sea of the Aether, which is the Living Waters mentioned in the Bible. We shall explore the characteristics of these four divisions in greater depth as we proceed with our investigation.



In the next part of this investigation we turn our attention to the constellation and Zodiacal Sign of Aries, which marks the beginning of the Testament, and in our Afterword continue our journey through the extra-Zodiacal constellations.

© Copyright occult-mysteries.org. Article published 14 January 2024.

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