This is book two of a series with Giordano Bruno (defrocked-friar,
philosopher, mathematician, poet, cosmological theorist, and Hermetic occultist)
starring as master sleuth.
Queen Elizabeth sits on the throne while rumors of her demise
circulate. It is the time of the Great Conjunction when Jupiter and Saturn align,
signaling the cataclysmic end of the age. Fear and uncertainty grip the nation.
France and Spain are eager to exploit any opportunity. Giordano Bruno is on the
run from the Inquisition and under the King of France’s protection in England.
He is also a mole for Elizabeth’s spymaster, Walsingham.
When several murders happen within the palace walls, Bruno
must rely on his wits and his friends to survive. Luckily, he has John Dee
(personal astrologer to the Queen) and the extensive spy net.
A very good historical thriller. Would have liked more astrology, occult material, etc. This is essentially an Elizabethan period, who-dun-it. So, a bit disappointing for me who wanted more depth on Bruno and his inner mind.
There are many misconceptions about astrology. This book attempts a survey of its effects on Western Civilization. It’s a big job! This is a history book and astrology has been around a very long time. Most of us think astrology can be summed up by those little paragraphs written about your sun sign that commonly occur in magazines and papers. Some who have delved deeper know astrology is a science- one that predated and in part, gave birth to modern science. How is it that this thread is all but missing from history books? It is said that history is written by the victors and from that perspective (I suppose), astrology did not win. Bobrick’s book is not a book about whether astrology is a valid science. Rather, this is a book about how ideas and people’s understanding of them played a role in history.
Bobrick opens the book with a very compelling case about how Columbus would never have set sail on a voyage of discovery except for having been inspired by an astrological idea that had come from the Persians through the Arabs and finally to the West by way of a French Cardinal and astrologer, Pierre d’Ailly. Known as the great conjunction theory, where Jupiter and Saturn unite, it was thought to herald great changes. The once- in- 960- year astrological event so excited Columbus, he decided it heralded the end of the world and everyone on the planet would need to be converted. He adopted the name Christophorus, “the Christbearer” and sought the financial aid of Spain. Columbus’ copy of the astrologer’s work who so influenced him, including his personal notes, can be seen in Seville. Ideas are no small matter!
Man has always been intrigued by the skies. The origins of astrology go back to Mesopotamia, the Chaldean East, including areas of Babylonia and Assyria. From there, it spread to Egypt and Greece. Astrology was known in Greece at least as early as 1184 BC. Plato was tutored by a Chaldean astrologer. Astrology eventually incorporated Pythagorean concepts. But it wasn’t until Hellenistic Egypt that astrology came into its own and combined with Greek mathematical astronomy. By 150 BC, the earliest handbook on astrology was written. These ideas spread throughout Greece and on to India.
Babylonian astrology tablet, (photo: Poulpy)
Astrological disc, Egypt (Ptolemaic 332-31 BCE)
During the Roman Empire, all classes of people were influenced by the practice of astrology. Astrologers were consulted at the highest levels and several Emperors were skilled astrologers (including Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian). The fundamental work on astrology (Tetrabiblos) in the classical world was done by Claudius Ptolemy who drew on ancient sources.
Zodiac, (6th cent.) synagogue, Beth Alpha, Israel
From Tetrabiblos (9th cent. Byzantine manuscript), zodiac & months
As the Roman Empire declined and the West fell into darkness, astrology flourished in the East and the lands held by the Byzantines. By the 9th century, Islamic, Jewish, Greek. Persian, and Hindu scholars gathered in the intellectual capital of Baghdad. This was Islam’s Golden Age when cooperation, innovation, and learning flourished! The Arabs translated Greek texts and got to work on pioneering science. Arab scholars pursued astronomy, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, introduced a system of numerals, created a decimal system, refined the lunar calendar, and built observatories. What came into existence then was what is today called “Arabic astrology”- a fusion of Greek thought and Arabic science. From this tradition, the formidable astrologer al-Biruni’s text, The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology (1029), had a strong mathematical basis and he firmly believed no one could call himself an astrologer without a thorough understanding of all the sciences. Such was the nature of the profession.
Astrolabe, Islamic (1067AD), (photo: Luiz Garcia)
All of this is a fascinating way of viewing history through the perspective of the emergence of science. From this lens, astrology is the science that underpinned what we think of as modern science. This was the need to watch the skies, to take measurements, to create the mathematics and instruments for observations, and then to make it relevant. Of course, astrology is also the oldest of the occult (meaning “hidden”) arts. And so much more than those little paragraphs in magazines that pass as horoscopes.
In part 2, we’ll look at how the Church and European Courts have viewed the practice of astrology. (Have you ever seen an astrological clock or a stained-glass window with the full zodiac?)
I’ve always hated my birthday. December 21 falls too close to Christmas for it ever to have been celebrated like a normal birthday. As a child I can remember (and remember vividly) the one and only birthday party where I had neighbor kids over. The rest of the time, birthdays were small family events squeezed in among the hubbub of Christmas. Not fun and not special. That coupled with the yearly reminder from my mother that I was born on the darkest day of the year did much to cement my feelings of apathy about my solar return. For a few years, I moved the event to January hoping for a better outcome. But there was no escaping it.
2017 turned out to be quite an eye-opening experience living abroad, and in an attempt to take advantage of some once in a life-time opportunities, I thought maybe this year marking my birthday with the rising sun of solstice at Stonehenge would make a memorable birthday. It was!
The tour bus left London in complete darkness at 4:20 AM and we made our way to the plains of Salisbury where we picked up some light rain. We were given the option of walking 50 minutes to the site or waiting for a shuttle bus. Luckily, the English Heritage organization that controls access to Stonehenge has done this for years and there were plenty of shuttle buses, so we boarded the bus and rode. We were dropped off, in the misty blackness at the edge of a parking lot with hundreds of others. All along the way, my husband and I were looking for the famous stones to orient ourselves but even standing with the crowd, we had no idea in which direction we’d eventually be led.
Finally, someone from English Heritage ventured by with a flashlight to tell us that they were waiting for some light before they’d open the field for us to go up to the site. When someone asked her where, she gestured to the left behind a wire fence where again we saw nothing. The crowd was animated. In the distance and to the left, drums beat, and a lone bagpipe played. More shuttle buses came and left, and we waited.
Not long after, the stones were lit on the hill above us and the pasture fence dropped. Stonehenge emerged from the black night on the first morning of winter. Druid drums beat a rhythm as the crowd and I were led through the marshy pasture and up to the historic site. I felt very emotional going up the hill and had to focus on my breathing to circulate the energy. Whether this was a reaction to ley lines, the crowd’s festive spirit, or my own internal work I don’t know, but it was powerful and deep (and Scorpionic?). There was a sense of rightness in this crowd moving up to take back this site.
By the time I reached the stones, several hundred people were already massed in and around the site. Stonehenge is a relatively small area. The center was held by Druids and pagans who had begun their ceremonies. Eager to join in, my husband and I moved in as close as we could. Our initial position was just outside the center ring. Gradually things began to lighten. We honored the four directions and offered prayers of peace being led by, I believe, a Druid priest. We chanted, sang songs, and summoned the ancestors. It was a festive, lively, and inclusive ceremony. The official sunrise came without notice as the clouds never permitted the sun to shine. Once the ritual part of the gathering had concluded, a group of pagan singers dressed in red streamed into the center of the stones and led the crowd in more songs. After a while, it felt like time to leave and my husband and I walked around the circle. I had a chance to touch some of the stones and walk the grounds of the site.
One of the most important reasons to visit Stonehenge at one of the solstices is that people are allowed in among the stones and on the grounds. During the rest of the year, tourists are allowed only to walk a paved path behind a barrier around the site. Those restrictions have been in place for some years now to protect the site. Only on limited rare occasions can visitors access and touch the stones (although technically you’re not supposed to, but everyone does).
Stonehenge is positioned on the top of a gentle hill with a panoramic view of surrounding fields. It’s isolated and unexpected, retaining its mystery. I settled on a fallen stone with some others. Revelers in the distance kept up the party atmosphere as I dropped into a healing mediation with the aid of the beat of a steady drum. It was easy to ground and go deep. I emerged sometime later, cold and stiff. It was time to leave.
The visit had been characterized by three different phases. First, there had been the emotional climb to the site. The stones themselves and the experience of greeting the solstice was joyous and a shared one. The final phase was solitary, deep, and healing. No bolts of lightening but more a gladness that I’d been there. That this birthday was memorable and special.
I was surprised that I had not felt more in the way of energy at the site, but then I had done some shielding ahead of our arrival. An unexpected thing happened the next day in London though. While we were waiting to get the underground, I suddenly started running energy that intensified in my palms. This lasted for some time and I think was connected to the previous day’s work. So, I’m keeping an open mind and we’ll see where this goes. Maybe a blog in the future.
I’ve been watching Maga’s astrology videos on Youtube for months now. What I like most about her presentation is the focus on spiritual growth and evolution. As my birthday approached, I decided to take the plunge and have her do my natal chart. I’ve been playing around with my chart for a few years so some of what Maga outlined was very familiar, but what was really helpful was that she looked at it from a perspective of soul mission and growth. Turns out, that’s the thing I most needed to hear as we head into 2016. I immediately reached out to Maga to see if she’d be interested in appearing on the blog. She’s here today to share her knowledge and perspective on astrology and healing. Before I launch into some questions I want to share a little about Maga’s background.
Maga is a professional healer, intuitive, astrologer, and artist. She holds a bachelor of science degree from the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, is a Usui Reiki master, a licensed massage therapist, and is a certified Kundalini yoga instructor. She has been teaching since the late 1990s after going through her own transformative spiritual experience.
Mama Maga has answered the interview questions in the following audio file. Please click to listen to this fascinating interview.
1. What was your life like prior to 1995 when you experienced what you call “the Plutonian Passage”?
2. Was it then that you were called into the world in a new way or were you always interested in the spiritual side of life and healing?
3. As I’ve started learning some of the basics of astrology, I’m struck by how large and technical the art and science is. Can you share how you first became interested in astrology and how you proceeded to acquire your understanding?
4. When I was listening to your natal reading of my chart, I wondered how having some of these things pointed out early in my life might have made a difference. How can astrology be a practical tool in people’s lives? For a beginner, how should someone get started?
5. How can astrology be used for those with a spiritual inclination? How can it aid to our evolution and growth?
6. I’ve been watching “The Daily News” on your YouTube channel and I know you’re offering a special program starting in mid-January. Please describe what the 5 Month Membership is and who you think would most benefit from it?
7. As we look at 2016, what astrological aspect(s) should we most be aware of?
Thank you, Maga, for spending some time with us. Maga offers a wide range of astrology and healing services (at affordable rates, I might add). Please check out her YouTube channel and websites for more information.
In 1991, Barbara Hand Clow posited a theory in which planetary cycles could be used to predict the onset,progress, and completion of certain transformative growth cycles. The most powerful of these occurs at mid-life (early 40s) and can viewed as spiritual emergency. Her earlier work has been updated and re-released as Astrology and the Rising of Kundalini.
I was really intrigued when I learned my own crisis occurred within the predictable parameters and how my experience can be seen as a classic case of kundalini rise. My biggest regret is that I didn’t have this book about ten years ago when it would have been so informative and comforting!
Clow insists that everyone undergoes a rise in kundalini energy according to the movement of Uranus in a person’s chart. This rise triggers mid-life crisis. Mid-life crisis does seem to be a fairly common experience but we all know people who sail through life seemingly immune to life’s ups and downs. Certainly not everyone goes through spiritual crisis. Regardless, the information is very pertinent to the spiritual seeker and this is where it can be most useful.
The key astrological transitions to look at are the first Saturn return (age 30), Uranus opposition to the natal chart (ages 38-44), and the return of Chiron (age 50). The exact dates are given on charts in the back of the book. It’s interesting to try to look back and remember what was going on at each time. All of the dates held some significance for me. In addition, the key wounding dates for Chiron were also significant, but oddly enough, I wouldn’t say they were my worst wounds. This trend continued with my husband and son who could sometimes recall incidents connected to their dates, but also felt they were not the most significant ones they’ve experienced.
There is much to ponder over reading this book. It should be required reading BEFORE mid-life, especially for the spiritually-minded. Anyone going through spiritual crisis will find some practical help to treat the symptoms and comfort knowing it will settle down (eventually). The material is presented in lively way with real life examples. No prior knowledge of astrology or the kundalini phenomena is necessary. All the charts needed to do your own analysis are included.
“I pursue a language to express universal truths that cannot be communicated with words.” Enrico Magnani
Enrico Magnani is another friend I’ve met through blogging. He is a fellow mystic who expresses his journey along the path through his abstract artwork. His paintings are profound, using symbols to speak to our subconscious minds. For him, the symbols act as a catalyst to stimulate a process of inner questioning. The viewer is taken on a sojourn deep within ourselves to discover our alchemical gold revealing universal truth.
Mars & Pluto Game II
Enrico’s artwork can speak to all of us because it transcends culture, time, and space. Those on a spiritual path will find a companion truth seeker and an instant resonance will be established. Walk with him as he explores those mystical symbols, labyrinths, astrology, sacred geometry, the I-Ching, spiritual alchemy, and archetypes.
Reading his interviews, it’s clear he sees art as creation but he also wants art to evolve as he feels we all should do. His own path included a time of creating realistic images but eventually he began asking deeper questions and his art became more and more abstract. Today his work is entirely abstract using the understanding he had derived from more than twenty years studying ancient traditions, philosophies, religions, and myths.
“Art can penetrate the domain of the soul and emotions, of everything that is not material, nevertheless real.”
Enrico’s paintings have been widely exhibited throughout Europe and in two locations in the US. Currently, he is working on a project called “Cosmic Hug.” Begun in 2013 in Prague, the effort will link art and individuals in a global project demonstrating the interconnectedness of all beings while benefiting the needy.
For more on Enrico Magnani, please visit these sites:
Recently I watched an episode on Gaiam TV where Regina Meredith was interviewing an astrologer. I’ve been interested in astrology off and on since I was a teenager, but over the past year or so that interest has become more intense and I watch quite a few YOUTUBE astrologers as they explain what’s going on in a given month. It is fascinating and personal.
What resonated with this interview concerned the movement of Pluto and how these long transits (248 years to circle the zodiac) influence generations. With Pluto in a given sign anywhere from 11 to 32 years, it defines a whole generation. In a way, this is the opposite of personal because I share influences with everyone in my age group. As a writer for young people, this idea intrigues me. It especially drew me in as the astrologer talked about my adult children’s group (Pluto in Scorpio). He talked about the attraction for this group to pagan religions and pure philosophy. My daughter describes herself as pagan and my son is currently exploring nihilism and its intricacies. Further extrapolating, I thought- wow, this was the perfect market for Harry Potter. Some people think JK Rowling had a unique idea or that the books were exceptionally well done. But most of us realize that young wizards going off to school has been done before. Perhaps then, Pluto in Scorpio almost guaranteed Harry Potter would make publishing history.
The youngest of the children of the Pluto in Scorpio generation will turn twenty soon so as a children’s writer, I bid them farewell. My attention turns to the Pluto in Sagittarius (1995- 2008) group. This would be my target audience and astrology should help me see who these kids are. What are the characteristics of this generation? Sagittarius rules religion, philosophy, long distance travel, and foreign countries. This generation should have a keen interest in these areas and Sagittarius has a can do enthusiasm that Scorpio lacks. They value freedom, are easily bored, and may not be as well-grounded and realistic as some. If I were to try to predict what would appeal to the Pluto in Sagittarius generation in terms of books (and movies), I’d list novels with far away settings, diverse cultures, exciting plots, maybe some quirky humor. I’m not sure dystopia like Hunger Games and Divergent will continue to appeal. Those seem more tied to earlier Scorpio themes. The Sags should be interested in religion and philosophy so perhaps visionary fiction will find its place. Time will reveal what this generation gravitates toward and what the next big blockbuster will be. Just about the time we start to see how obvious it all should have been, the Pluto in Capricorn (2008-2024) kids will show up and we’ll be scratching our heads all over.
Anne and I connected through our blogs. We share many similarities in interests and experiences. I just finished her wonderful memoir and I’m happy to share it here.
Over a thirty year period, Anne was challenged by many happenings which left her baffled. As a skeptic, she tried to come to grips with them as she managed a career and family. But how does the rational mind grasp phenomena like atmospheres, ghosts, poltergeists, mediumship, premonitions, reincarnation, mystical experience, and telepathy and make sense of them? The prevailing worldview of scientific materialism insists they’re not possible. Using diary notes and drawing upon recall, Anne categorizes the events and digs deeper. Her writing is straightforward, honest, and from the heart.
Most of us have probably had some kind of weird experience that defies rational analysis. In 2009, a Pew Research study revealed that 29% of Americans report they have had contact with the dead and 18% have had an encounter with a ghost. Furthermore, 49% report mystical experience as defined as a “moment of sudden religious insight or awakening.” In this context, Anne is far from alone. Many of us dismiss these events because they’re uncomfortable. We shrug our shoulders and try to forget them. This is where one of the powers of Anne’s writing grabs us. As we read about her experiences, we begin to remember our own. Anne is fueled by open-minded curiosity coupled with rationalism in her search. And just like her, we’d like some answers too.
Anne turns to science and finds the reductionist materialism paradigm to be inadequate to address her experiences. At the same time, she knows that current theoretical physics has offered hope. New scientific theories are starting to make inroads toward the mainstream. In the final part of the memoir, she takes on the science and realizes the paradigm for our reality must shift to accommodate what many of us have experienced. Kudos to Anne for boldly sharing her journey. May her book encourage others to do the same.
Anne Whitaker has worked in the fields of adult education, social work, and counselling. She has been a practicing astrologer, teacher and writer since 1983. Her first book was entitled Jupiter Meets Uranus (2009). She lives in Glasgow, Scotland.