PBP2012: Chastity

Temperance by Piero Pollaiolo

Chastity is something that rarely seems to be talked about in pagan circles, I guess it’s just something that is plain boring. I’m going to write a little a bit about it though. Indeed, I consider myself to be chaste, but not because I’m a prude (far from it, in fact). I chose to be chaste because it suits my nature.

It may seem a bit odd for someone devotes a lot of their time to a sexual deity like Dionysos, to espouse the values of chastity. But Dionysian worship isn’t all about sex and drunken revelry:

“On women, where Aphrodite is concerned, Dionysos will not enforce restraint – such modesty you must seek in nature, where it already dwells.  But for any woman whose character is chaste she won’t be defiled by Bacchic revelry ”

– EuripidesBakkhai 314-317

But do not confuse chastity with celibacy and abstinence. Chastity is about temperance, which fits in with the virtue of sophrosyne, moderation in action, thought and feeling. So chastity, to me, would mean restricting sex to be an action between people who have been cultivating a relationship for a while.

I’m certainly not going to pledge to life long abstinence, because I would like a companion one day. But, if I don’t find a partner, then it is no big loss to me. Maybe it is my Capricornian nature, but I’d rather have sex with a partner I trust, rather than have a quick fling.

Call me boring if you like, I couldn’t give two figs.

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PBP2012: Bassareus

Bassareus is an interesting surname for Dionysos, derived from the words ‘bassara’ or ‘bassaris’, the long robe the god and his mainades wore in Thrace. Bassaris actually means fox, which leads one to conclude that the robe is made from fox-skins.

The fox is known for its love of grapes and other fruit and is even the subject of an Aesop’s fable:

“Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine but was unable to, although she leaped with all her strength. As she went away, the fox remarked, ‘Oh, you aren’t even ripe yet! I don’t need any sour grapes”

Phaedrus 4.3

Although I personally think the fox’s love of grapes is only one side of this Dionysian animal, rather than the be all and end all. The warm hues of the red fox’s fur are, to me, symbolic of fire, rebirth and the warmth. In mythology, when Semele died, “Zeus his father snatched him (Dionysos) up from the immortal fire and saved him in his thigh”.

The fox in folklore is typically associated with sexual, trickster spirits/characters. Reynard the fox, is such a character in European folklore and the Kitsune of Japanese folklore. I would even argue that the fox could be considered sacred to Hermes as well, because of its association with trickery.

According to Pausanias, Dionysos is even said to have unleashed a giant fox to destroy the Thebans:

There is also another legend, which tells of a fox called the Teumessian fox, how owing to the wrath of Dionysus the beast was reared to destroy the Thebans, and how, when about to be caught by the hound given by Artemis to Procris the daughter of Erechtheus, the fox was turned into a stone, as was likewise this hound.

-Description of Greece, 9.19.1

The red fox is also an animal I have contact with quite frequently. While I do not always see them, I often hear them at night. When I do see them, they are wandering on the local marshland, another area associated with Dionysos (Limnaios, ‘Of the Marshes’). But the fox is also just as active in urban areas as it is in rural areas. The red fox’s ability to adapt quickly to its surroundings is one of the reasons why, unlike its cousins, it is not endangered anywhere.

While one does not quickly think of the fox as a sacred animal of Dionysos; they are just as important as the others and have their own place in his retinue.

A Fox had by some means got into the store-room of a theatre. Suddenly he observed a face glaring down on him and began to be very frightened; but looking more closely he found it was only a Mask such as actors use to put over their face. “Ah,” said the Fox, “you look very fine; it is a pity you have not got any brains.

Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth.
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Musica Universalis

Shown in this engraving from Renaissance Italy are Apollo, the Muses, the planetary spheres and musical ratios.

‘Musica Universalis’ is an ancient philosophical concept that the celestial bodies emit a form of music. Pythagoras is credited with being the creator of the concept, by proposing that the celestial bodies emit their own ‘hum’ based on their orbital revolution.

Pliny the Elder talks about this his ‘Natural History’:

Pythagoras, employing the terms that are used in music, sometimes names the distance between the Earth and the Moon a tone; from her to Mercury he supposes to be half this space, and about the same from him to Venus. From her to the Sun is a tone and a half; from the Sun to Mars is a tone, the same as from the Earth to the Moon; from him there is half a tone to Jupiter, from Jupiter to Saturn also half a tone, and thence a tone and a half to the zodiac. Hence there are seven tones, which he terms the diapason harmony, meaning the whole compass of the notes. In this, Saturn is said to move in the Doric time, Jupiter in the Phrygian, and so forth of the rest; but this is a refinement rather amusing than useful.

Book II, Chp.20.(22.)

Plato in his ‘The Republic’, also builds on the idea of the ‘music of the spheres’:

And the spindle turned on the knees of Necessity, and up above on each of the rims of the circles a Siren stood, borne around in its revolution and uttering one sound, one note, and from all the eight there was the concord of a single harmony.

– Book X, 617b

So would this mean that Apollon has a role in astrology? I think so.

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An Excerpt from “Henry VIII and his Court”

John Heywood, who was a remarkably fine singer, seized the mandolin, which lay near him, and began to sing.

It was a song, possible only in those days, and at Henry’s voluptuous and at the same time canting court–a song full of the most wanton allusions, of the most cutting jests against both monks and women; a song which made Henry laugh, and the ladies blush; and in which John Heywood had poured forth in glowing dithyrambics all his secret indignation against Gardiner, the sneaking hypocrite of a priest, and against Lady Jane, the queen’s false and treacherous friend.

But the ladies laughed not. They darted flashing glances at John Heywood; and Lady Richmond earnestly and resolutely demanded the punishment of the perfidious wretch who dared to defame women. The king laughed still harder. The rage of the ladies was so exceedingly amusing.

“Sire,” said the beautiful Richmond, “he has insulted not us, but the whole sex; and in the name of our sex, I demand revenge for the affront.”

“Yes, revenge!” cried Lady Jane, hotly.

“Revenge!” repeated the rest of the ladies.

“See, now, what pious and gentle-hearted doves ye are!” cried John Heywood.

The king said, laughingly: “Well, now, you shall have your will–you shall chastise him.”

“Yes, yes, scourge me with rods, as they once scourged the Messiah, because He told the Pharisees the truth. See here! I am already putting on the crown of thorns.”

He took the king’s velvet cap with solemn air, and put it on.

“Yes, whip him, whip him!” cried the king, laughing, as he pointed to the gigantic vases of Chinese porcelain, containing enormous bunches of roses, on whose long stems arose a real forest of formidable-looking thorns.

“Pull the large bouquets to pieces; take the roses in your hand, and whip him with the stems!” said the king, and his eyes glistened with inhuman delight, for the scene promised to be quite interesting. The rose-stems were long and hard, and the thorns on them pointed and sharp as daggers. How nicely they would pierce the flesh, and how he would yell and screw his face, the good-natured fool!

“Yes, yes, let him take off his coat, and we will whip him!” cried the Duchess of Richmond; and the women, all joining in the cry, rushed like furies upon John Heywood, and forced him to lay aside his silk upper garment. Then they hurried to the vases, snatched out the bouquets, and with busy hands picked out the longest and stoutest stems. And loud were their exclamations of satisfaction, if the thorns were right and sharp, such as would penetrate the flesh of the offender right deeply. The king’s laughter and shouts of approval animated them more and more, and made them more excited and furious. Their cheeks glowed, their eyes glared; they resembled Bacchantes circling the god of riotous joviality with their shouts of “Evoe! evoe!”

“Not yet! do not strike yet!” cried the king. “You must first strengthen yourselves for the exertion, and fire your arms for a powerful blow!”

He took the large golden beaker which stood before him and, tasting it, presented it to Lady Jane.

“Drink, my lady, drink, that your arm may be strong!”

And they all drank, and with animated smiles pressed their lips on the spot which the king’s mouth had touched. And now their eyes had a brighter flame, and their cheeks a more fiery glow.

A strange and exciting sight it was, to see those beautiful women burning with malicious joy and thirst for vengeance, who for the moment had laid aside all their elegant attitudes, their lofty and haughty airs, to transform themselves into wanton Bacchantes, bent on chastising the offender, who had so often and so bitterly lashed them all with his tongue.

“Ah, I would a painter were here!” said the king. “He should paint us a picture of the chaste nymphs of Diana pursuing Actaeon. You are Actaeon, John!”

“But they are not the chaste nymphs, king; no, far from it,” cried Heywood; laughing, “and between these fair women and Diana I find no resemblance, but only a difference.”

“And in what consists the difference, John?”

“Herein, sire, that Diana carried her horn at her side; but these fair ladies make their husbands wear their horns on the forehead!”

A loud peal of laughter from the gentlemen, a yell of rage from the ladies, was the reply of this new epigram of John Heywood. They arranged themselves in two rows, and thus formed a lane through which John Heywood had to pass.

“Come, John Heywood, come and receive your punishment;” and they raised their thorny rods threateningly, and flourished them with angry gestures high above their heads.

The scene was becoming to John in all respects very piquant, for these rods had very sharp thorns, and only a thin linen shirt covered his back.

With bold step, however, he approached the fatal passage through which he was to pass.

Already he beheld the rods drawn back; and it seemed to him as if the thorns were even now piercing his back.

He halted, and turned with a laugh to the king. “Sire, since you have condemned me to die by the hands of these nymphs, I claim the right of every condemned criminal–a last favor.”

“The which we grant you, John.”

“I demand that I may put on these fair women one condition–one condition on which they may whip me. Does your majesty grant me this?”

“I grant it!”

“And you solemnly pledge me the word of a king that this condition shall be faithfully kept and fulfilled?”

“My solemn, kingly word for it!”

“Now, then,” said John Heywood, as he entered the passage, “now, then, my ladies, my condition is this: that one of you who has had the most lovers, and has oftenest decked her husband’s head with horns, let her lay the first stroke on my back.”

A deep silence followed. The raised arms of the fair women sank. The roses fell from their hands and dropped to the ground. Just before so bloodthirsty and revengeful, they seemed now to have become the softest and gentlest of beings.

Henry VIII and his Court by Luise Mühlbach

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PBP2012: Brimo-Hekate

Hekate Brimo…hearing his words from the abyss, came up…She was garlanded by fearsome snakes that coiled themselves round twigs of oak; the twinkle of a thousand torches lit the scene;and hounds of the underworld barked shrilly all around her”

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.1194

Brimo means ‘the angry’ or ‘the terrifying’, and seems to be an epithet most associated with Hekate, but I have heard of Demeter, Persephone, the Erinyes, Rhea and Kybele being given this epithet as well (which really wouldn’t surprise me). For this post, I just want to focus on Hekate since she’s been on my mind quite a bit recently.

From what I’ve gathered, Brimo-Hekate was very much associated with Pharai, Thessalia, where she was worshipped as a Queen of the Underworld. If one takes a moment to look at the coinage from that place, Hekate seems to have been quite important.

Hekate is associated with witchcraft, ghouls and the like. Indeed, I thought these were her primary associations until I educated myself. When I came to know about her roles as a nurser of children and a protective deity, I became more comfortable with honouring her, whereas before I was quite hesitant.

With her role as a protective deity, it’s natural to think of dogs as her sacred animal, since dogs were and are frequently used to protect property. Dogs can, obviously, be fierce when protecting property, which is how I’ve come to interpret the epithet ‘Brimo’ when concerning Hekate.

But…I must also say that ‘Brimo’ seems to be an epithet associated with the Underworld and I’ve always thought that offerings to khthonic deities are not meant to be shared, at all. This is why I’m not comfortable with the idea of giving food to charity, in the name of Hekate, in place of offering to the goddess.

A coin from Pharai, minted during the reign of Alexander of Pherai. B.C. 369-357, featuring Hekate

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PBP2012: Aetos Dios

Eagles are one of the many sacred animals of Zeus and when concerning Zeus, it is one of the most important to me, next to the ram. I feel like you can learn some things about a god when you contemplate the symbolism of a sacred animal. Porphyry explains why the eagle is sacred to Zeus “because he is master of the gods who traverse the air, as the eagle is master of the birds that fly aloft”.

The eagle symbolises strength, far sightedness and authority, these are also a few of the qualities Zeus is described to have. He is described as the strongest of gods (Zeus Sthenios), a god who orders (Zeus Kosmetes) and a god who protects (Zeus Apemios).

In mythology, Zeus transformed into an eagle, or sent one, to abduct the young Trojan prince, Ganymedes. Afterwards, Ganymedes became the cupbearer of the gods and a lover of Zeus. The myth itself reflects the norm of pederasty in Ancient Greek society and indeed, Ganymedes is associated with homosexual love in some way.

The myth of Zeus and Ganymedes also represents something else to me. I also see it as somewhat of an allegory of the devotional relationship between man and the divine. When we pour a libation, we are essentially acting as a ‘cupbearer’. While it’s highly unlikely we will become immortal, we become ‘elevated’, in a way, when glorifying the gods.

Of course, this is just one perspective I have on the myth and a personal one at that.

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PBP 2012: Astrology

I haven’t really said this before, but I am an amateur astrologer. I grew up fascinated with the zodiac and the night-sky, however I grew up thinking that the horoscopes featured in newspapers and magazines were the be all and end all of astrology. So when my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to start learning about astrology, I was overwhelmed by the complexity of it and the wealth of information.

When I started practising astrology, I had my chart drawn up and deciphered it (badly) with ‘cookbook’ descriptions of placements and aspects. These cookbook descriptions were usually from people who practised modern western astrology, they were also usually into Jungian psychology or New-Age spirituality. After a while, I ended up growing restless and decided to look into other schools of astrology. I eventually settled on traditional western astrology, although I have started adopting more Hellenistic techniques.

The biggest problems I have with modern astrology is its over emphasis on natal astrology as well as its designated planetary rulerships. For those not savvy with astrology, they are as follows:

Sign Traditional Ruler Modern Ruler
Aries Mars Mars
Taurus Venus Venus
Gemini Mercury Mercury
Cancer The Moon The Moon
Leo The Sun The Sun
Virgo Mercury Mercury
Libra Venus Venus
Scorpio Mars Pluto
Sagittarius Jupiter Jupiter
Capricorn Saturn Saturn
Aquarius Saturn Uranus
Pisces Jupiter Neptune

Now you may be asking, ‘Amy, why does this bother you so much?’ It bothers me because I find the traditional rulerships to speak more about the signs than their modern counterparts.

Above is the Thema Mundi, a mythological horoscope used in Hellenistic astrology which shows the supposed positions of the planets at the beginning of the universe. It is important because it explains concepts such as planetary domiciles and astrological aspects.

Ptolemy perfectly explains the reasoning behind planetary domiciles:

The planets also have familiarity with the parts of the zodiac, through what are called their houses, triangles, exaltations, terms, the like.

The system of houses is of the following nature.

Since of the twelve signs the most northern, which are closer than the others to our zenith and therefore most productive of heat and of warmth are Cancer and Leo, they assigned these to the greatest and most powerful heavenly bodies, that is, to the luminaries, as houses, Leo, which is masculine, to the sun and Cancer, feminine, to the moon. In keeping with this they assumed the semicircle from Leo to Capricorn to be solar and that from Aquarius to Cancer to be lunar, so that in each of the semicircles one sign might be assigned to each of the five planets as its own, one bearing aspect to the sun and the other to the moon, consistently with the spheres of their motion and the peculiarities of their natures.

For to Saturn, in whose nature cold prevails, as opposed to heat, and which occupies the orbit highest and farthest from the luminaries, were assigned the signs opposite Cancer and Leo, namely Capricorn and Aquarius, with the additional reason that these signs are cold and wintry, and further that their diametral aspect is not consistent with beneficence.

To Jupiter, which is moderate and below Saturn’s sphere, were assigned the two signs next to the foregoing, windy and fecund, Sagittarius and Pisces, in triangular aspect to the luminaries, which is a harmonious and beneficent configuration.

Next, to Mars, which is dry in nature and occupies a sphere under that of Jupiter, there were assigned again the two signs, contiguous to the former, Scorpio and Aries, having a similar nature, and, agreeably to Mars’ destructive and inharmonious quality, in quartile aspect to the luminaries.

To Venus, which is temperate and beneath Mars, were given the next two signs, which are extremely fertile, Libra and Taurus. These preserve the harmony of the sextile aspect; another reason is that this planet at most is never more than two signs removed from the sun in either direction.

Finally, there were given to Mercury, which never is farther removed from the sun than one sign in either direction and is beneath the others and closer in a way to both of the luminaries, the remaining signs, Gemini and Virgo, which are next to the houses of the luminaries”

– Tetrabiblos, Book I, 17

As for astrological aspects, they are the angles the planets make to each other in a horoscope; they can also make angles with points in the chart known as the Ascendant, Midheaven, Descendant and Lower Midheaven. Personally, I only use the ‘Ptolemaic aspects’, which are named as such since they were defined and used by Ptolemy. These aspects are the conjunction (approx. 0-10°), sextile (60°), square (90°), trine (120°), and opposition (180°).

William Lilly describes the nature of these aspects rather well:

You must understand amongst these Aspects, the Quadrate Aspect is a sign of imperfect emnity; and that the Opposition is an aspect or argument of perfect hatred; which is to be understood thus: A Question is propounded, Whether two persons at variance may be reconciled?

Admit I find the two Significators representing the two Adversaries, in Square aspect; I may then judge because the aspect is of imperfect hatred, that the matter is not yet so far gone, but there may be hopes of reconciliation betwixt them, the other significators or planets a little helping.

But, if I find the main significators in Opposition, it’s then in nature impossible to expect a peace betwixt them till the suit is ended, if it be a suit of Law; untill they have fought, if it be a Challenge.

The Sextile and Trine aspects are arguments of Love, Unity and Friendship; but the Trine is more forcible, (viz.) if the two Significators are in Sextile or Trine, no doubt but peace may be easily concluded.

Conjunctions are good or bad, as the Planets in Conjunction are friends or enemies to one another

Christian Astrology, p.106

It may seem odd for a ‘pagan’ to take material from a book known as ‘Christian Astrology’, but when it comes to horary astrology, it is essential reading in my opinion.

The Wheel of the Occupations of the Months and the Zodiac, from the Kalender of Shepardes

Now, for the nature of the zodiac, this seems to be a subject that is misunderstood. The zodiac is a circle of twelve 30° segments of celestial longitude, they are not constellations. While the sidereal zodiac takes into account the position of the fixed stars and the procession of the equinoxes; the tropical zodiac does not. The tropical year is calculated via the solstices and equinoxes, so it ignores the procession of the equinoxes. But even in sidereal astrology, the constellation Ophiuchus remains just that, a constellation.

So the tropical zodiac is primarily concerned with the seasons and the start of the tropical year is marked by the vernal equinox. Ptolemy explains why:

“For this reason, although there is no natural beginning of the zodiac, since it is a circle, they assume that the sign which begins with the vernal equinox, that of Aries, is the starting-point of them all, making the excessive moisture of the spring the first part of the zodiac as though it were a living creature, and taking next in order the remaining seasons, because in all creatures the earliest ages, like the spring, have a larger share of moisture and are tender and still delicate”

Tetrabiblos, Book I, chp.10

Keeping with the theme of the seasons, the signs are also divided into four quadrants, which are:

The vernal or spring quarter: which is hot, moist and sanguine. It contains the signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini.

The estival or summer quarter: which is hot, dry and choleric. It contains the signs Cancer, Leo and Virgo.

The autumnal quarter: which is cold, dry and melancholic. It contains the signs Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius.

The hyemal, brumal or winter quarter: which is cold, moist and phelemic. It contains the signs Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

The zodiac is also divided further via the elements, which are fire, earth, air and water, known as the triplicities. They are perfectly explained by William Ramesey:

“The Fiery-Triplicity, consisteth of Aries, Leo and Sagittary: the Aery, of Gemini, Libra and Aquaries: the Watry, of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces: the Earthy, of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn; and these signs behold one another with a Trine; as a Planet in a fiery sign beholds another Planet in another fiery sign (being in equal number of degrees) with a Trine; as also a Planet in an Aery sign, another Planet in an Aery sign; one in a Watry sign, another in a Watry sign; in an Earthy sign, a Planet in ‘an Earthy sign. And this Trine Aspect, consists of an hundred and twenty degrees.

The Sun and Jupiter have dominion in the Fiery-Triplicity, the Sun by day, and Jupiter by night: the Sun, for that he is hot and fiery, of the nature of these signs; and Jupiter , for that he is temperate, and to moderate the extremity thereof, therefore he ruleth this Triplicity in the night: yet some of the Ancients [e.g., Dorotheus of Sidon, whom I follow] have added in government with them Saturn, that by his cold nature, he may temperate the excess of heat. This is the Eastern Triplicity.

Saturn and Mercury have dominion in the Aery-Triplicity, which is Western, Mercury by night, and Saturn by day; Libra is his Exaltation (and you have heard for what reasons) Aquaries is his house and sign wherein he most doth joy; Gemini is Mercuries house; wherefore Saturn hath chief Dominion in this Triplicity; yet some have joyned Jupiter in signification with them, by reason of his temperancy.

Mars both night and day, hath assigned him chief Dominion of the Watry Triplicity; this Triplicity is Northern: certainly the reason why Mars was assigned chief Rule of the Water, was to cool his courage and abate his heat; for we see he is more powerfull to work his mischievous pranks in Leo then in Cancer; for he having dominion and rule in Cancer, he worketh not altogether so much mischief (yet is he in Fall in Cancer, but Peregrine in Leo) wherefore a Planet Peregrine is worse then a Planet in Fall, if he be but in a term: yet some of the Ancients have joyned Venus and the Moon with Mars, by reason Cancer is the Moons house, and Pisces the Exaltation of Venus.

Venus and Luna are appointed chief Governesses of the Earthy-Triplicity, which is Feminine and Southern, cold and moyst, causing South-east winds, cold and moyst Ayr; and therefore assigned to these Feminine Planets”

Astrologia Restaurata, chp.XII

The signs are also classed as masculine or feminine. The fiery and airy signs are masculine, they are more active and less receptive than their feminine counterparts. The feminine signs are the earth and water, they are more passive but are more receptive than their masculine counterparts.

There are also the different qualities, which are:

The cardinal signs, which are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. When the sun enters these signs, it heralds the change of the seasons. These signs are goal orientated and change their surroundings.

The fixed signs, which are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. When the sun enters these signs, the season is ‘fixed’, meaning that hot or cold, dryness and moisture are more evident to us. These signs tend to build on what they have got, disliking change.

The mutable signs, which are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces. These signs take on qualities of the previous signs of the season. These signs adapt to their environment and ‘go with the flow’.

Just like there are twelve signs, there are twelve astrological houses which are also abstract divisions of the ecliptic. Calculating these can vary among astrologers, the Placidus and Koch systems seem to be the most popular, but I personally use the ‘whole sign system’, which was the most used system in Hellenistic astrology. While I do not want to go into the meaning of each house right now, I’ll leave this excerpt from William Lilly’s Christian Astrology:

“There is nothing appertaining to the life of man in this world, which in one way or other hath not relation to one of the twelve Houses of Heaven, and as the twelve signs are appropriate to the particular members of mans body; so also doe the twelve houses represent not onely the severall parts of man, but his actions, quality of life and living, and the curiosity and judgment of our Fore-fathers in Astrology, was such, as they have alotted to every house a particular signification”

Christian Astrology, Chp.VII, pg.50

The planets are also hard to pin down in this post, because what they represent can also vary depending on the form of astrology you are practising. But I will quote a description of the natures of the planets as described by Ptolemy:

“The active power of the sun’s essential nature is found to be heating and, to a certain degree, drying. This is made more easily perceptible in the case of the sun than any other heavenly body by its size and by the obviousness of its seasonal changes, for the closer it approaches to the zenith the more it affects us in this way. Most of the moon’s power consists of humidifying, clearly because it is close to the earth and because of the moist exhalations therefrom. Its action therefore is precisely this, to soften and cause putrefaction in bodies for the most part, but it shares moderately also in heating power because of the light which it receives from the sun.

It is Saturn’s quality chiefly to cool and, moderately, to dry, probably because he is furthest removed both from the sun’s heat and the moist exhalations about the earth. Both in Saturn’s case and in that of the other planets there are powers, too, which arise through the observation of their aspects to the sun and moon, for some of them appear to modify conditions in the ambient in one way, some in another, by increase or by decrease.

The nature of Mars is chiefly to dry and to burn, in conformity with his fiery colour and by reason of his nearness to the sun, for the sun’s sphere lies just below him.

Jupiter has a temperate active force because his movement takes place between the cooling influence of Saturn and the burning power of Mars. He both heats and humidifies; and because his heating power is the greater by reason of the underlying spheres, he produces fertilizing winds.

Venus has the same powers and tempered nature as Jupiter, but acts in the opposite way; for she warms moderately because of her nearness to the sun, but chiefly humidifies, like the moon, because of the amount of her own light and because she appropriates the exhalations from the moist atmosphere surrounding the earth.

Mercury in general is found at certain times alike to be drying and absorptive of moisture, because he never is far removed in longitude from the heat of the sun; and again humidifying, because he is next above the sphere of the moon, which is closest to the earth; and to change quickly from one to the other, inspired as it were by the speed of his motion in the neighbourhood of the sun itself”

Tetrabiblos, Book I, Chp.4

Concerning ancient Greek religion, there are a few deities who could be associated with the art of astrology, although it must be noted that there was no distinction between astrology and astronomy in antiquity.

I think the role of Helios, Selene and the Astra Planeta (the planets) is pretty evident. There is also Ourania is the muse of astronomy, so naturally astrology will come under her sphere of influence. Asteria is also thought to be the Titan goddess of oracles and prophecies of the night, which would include prophetic dreams, astrology and necromancy. Then there’s Astraios, who is the father of the stars and planets, who could also be linked to the art of astrology.

The Olympian god Hermes is also associated with astronomy, especially when you take into account his syncretism with the Egyptian god Thoth. This syncretism gave birth to the movement known as Hermeticism, a religion which heavily influenced the western esoteric tradition. Hermes’ mother is also the nymph Maia, who is one of the Pleiades. The Pleiades were important to the ancient Greek farmer, as Hesiod accounts:

“When the Pleiades Atlagenes (born of Atlas) are rising [early May], begin your harvest, and your ploughing when they are going to set [November]. Forty nights and days they are hidden and appear again as the year moves round, when first you sharpen your sickle”

Works and Days, 383 ff

I can’t say I buy into linking the zodiac with the Twelve Olympians either, it just doesn’t fit for me. I personally think that the Horai would have more to do with the signs, since they are goddesses who deal with portions of time and heavenly order.

Then, last but not least:

“The Moirai to whom wise Zeus gave the greatest honour, Klotho, and Lakhesis, and Atropos who give mortal men evil and good to have”

Hesiod’s Theogony, 901 ff

Surely the Moirai and Zeus are tied up into astrology in some way, being gods who determine the fates of men. Saying that, I haven’t really thought too deeply into how astrology plays into Hellenic religion. So if you have any thoughts on the subject, feel free to share them!

So, does astrology work? It has for me and often enough for it to make me believe it is a viable art. That’s all I really have to say for now about astrology for now. So, to finish this post off, I’ll leave a famous piece of music that was inspired by Saturn, which has always been my favourite planet since I was a child. Which is quite amusing really, considering Saturn is actually the ruler of my natal chart.

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