Astrology in Christian Terms

Rev Dr David Bell


There are many things I love about the Bible. One facet that is little appreciated is Biblical astrology. Not surprisingly I have found that this particular subject can infuriate a lot of people including scientists and fundamentalists, a surprising alliance. I have also found that most liberals are simply ignorant of it and dismiss it out of hand.


The fundamentalists strongly condemn astrology. They usually have a Scriptural base for so doing. They quote Deuteronomy, Isaiah and Daniel all of which have a few verses making scathing remarks about it.


The trouble for the fundamentalists is that elsewhere in the Bible there are a lot more verses which seem to imply an acceptance of astrology. Such places include other verses in Daniel, not to mention Genesis, Job, Matthew, Luke, Acts and Revelation. Job at 38:31 is quite magnificent.


He says,

Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades,

or loose the cords of Orion?

Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season,

or can you guide the Bear with its children?

Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?

Can you establish their rule on the earth?


That word mazzaroth is most interesting. It is used only here and nowhere else in the Bible. mazzaroth means the zodiac. That is, the constellations or star signs by which horoscopes are cast. Horoscope itself means the scope or outline of your fate from the “hour” (horos) when you were born.


The zodiac was known from Britain, to Europe, to Asia Minor, to India, to China. It was ancient science at its best. It combined very precise measurements of sun, moon, planets (wandering stars) and the fixed stars along with some chillingly accurate understanding of psychic phenomena.


Equally it was mixed up with what are lightly dismissed today as primitive superstitions. That is a mistake, a bad error of judgment. As Carl Jung observed “The question every astrologer puts is this: What are the effective forces and determinants of my fate beyond the reach of my conscious intention?”


Of course scientists today mostly do dismiss astrology as nonsense. They think of it as a horror-scape! The idea that the stars in the zodiac could possibly exert any influence over human life and destiny is wildly improbable, even impossible, to the modern astronomical mind.


In fact, it is a mystery to scientists why astrology continues to be so popular given the concerted efforts to expose it as fraudulent over the last few hundred years or so.


But astrology persists, and during the twentieth century science itself has been treated with much and ever-increasing suspicion. And the Bible itself tells me why that is so.


The old sciences - astrology, Pythagorean mysteries, sacred geometry - imparted meaning to human knowledge. They addressed the soul at the same time as they increased knowledge. The new sciences only impart knowledge - and it can be very suspect knowledge, transitory knowledge, knowledge without wisdom. And that is most unsatisfactory.

The story of how science in our time has ruthlessly suppressed scientists who fail to toe the party line makes a far greater horror story than Galileo’s “persecution”. No more so than the Gauquelins, French scientists, who in the 1950s set out to disprove astrology only to come up with the most astonishing reverse results. These results have withstood the most intense scrutiny over some 40 years but still the scientific establishment will not admit it has made a serious mistake.


The power of astrology is not to tell your fortune, but to constellate forces in the soul. Long after current science has become quaint theory, the Biblical astrology will be pointing a royal path to wisdom. That is why in many ancient cathedrals you will find the Gospel in the mazzaroth. It is seen in the half light of stained glass in sacred space. Chartres, some 80 kilometers from Paris, with its famous astrological window and numerous carvings of the mazzaroth is one of the best known. Even its orientation, aligned almost to the summer solstice, raises challenging issues in archaeo-astronomy.


The mid-summer solstice for Chartres and Stonehenge evokes a very different southern hemisphere perspective. The hard and bitter frosty nights open up views into the very heart of the universe. Scorpio rises to dominate the eastern sky, and the Southern Cross sings its silent song of triumph above a dimly comprehending planet.


The Gospel is in the stars and the stars are running their courses. Each year at this time, the gods come down to question us, to probe our knowledge, our sense of destiny and fulfilment. Then the One, behind, below, beyond and, above all gods, the Holy, insists that we stand up and give an account. Why we have begun to observe? Why we have grown conscious? Why we have awakened and to what end?


The questions grow ever more complex and run in so many different directions, yet they track to the same orbit, the same music of the spheres. Here, in this land, Maatariki (the Pleiades of the old world) signals the recurrence of the cycle, as it has in many places before.


As ethnographer Elsdon Best once wrote, "From some far land lost amid the shades of the setting sun the Maori brought hither the Pleiades year and his crude reckoning of time by the lunar month. He brought also the knowledge of Ra, and Sina, and Rongo, and Ira, and the Whanau Marama, the Shining Ones who gleam across the realm of Watea when Whiro sends darkness to cover the body of the old Earth Mother. He invokes the aid of those beings in his perilous journey down the path of life, for he believed them to be wondrous powers, to be potent gods in themselves."


Those gods and the stars and planets prick my conscience, delight and torment my rationality, insist upon searches for patterns and demand internal equilibriums of the soul by way of compensations and sacrifices.


We are children of star-dust; yet our whakapapa is more than the heavy metals of ancient stellar explosions, our minds more than electro-chemical pathways in brains. The west has been corrupted by selfish materialism at every level, and even science itself has become a caricature betokening what knowledge is not.


Truth and wisdom lie in a quite different direction, are pulled willingly into those orbits of the soul where tacit knowledge is more potent than intellect. It is found in the ancient astrologies and the places of departure, like Te Reinga, where the living and the dead see through golden mists into realms beyond imagining.


In truth, we are the universe looking at itself. We are the fishhook of Maaui, we catch ourselves, we catch our consciousness, our awakening, pull it up out of the deep and find new ground upon which to stand. Yet no physical territory is ground for ever.


Hence the dominance in the night sky of Maaui's fish-hook. The Scorpion is the bringer of death: the redeemer must die, the final conflict, the necessary, deadly conflict. In the tail of the Scorpion is the sting and only in the sting is the light of the Son.


The age of Pisces-Virgo is drawing to its close. The mazzaroth and its symbols have yet more to reveal. The world is changing and never more urgent was the need for the Church to live by its myths and into its myths and out of its myths.





Astrology in Christian Terms

Rev Dr David Bell


There are many things I love about the Bible. One facet that is little appreciated is Biblical astrology. Not surprisingly I have found that this particular subject can infuriate a lot of people including scientists and fundamentalists, a surprising alliance. I have also found that most liberals are simply ignorant of it and dismiss it out of hand.


The fundamentalists strongly condemn astrology. They usually have a Scriptural base for so doing. They quote Deuteronomy, Isaiah and Daniel all of which have a few verses making scathing remarks about it.


The trouble for the fundamentalists is that elsewhere in the Bible there are a lot more verses which seem to imply an acceptance of astrology. Such places include other verses in Daniel, not to mention Genesis, Job, Matthew, Luke, Acts and Revelation. Job at 38:31 is quite magnificent.


He says,

Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades,

or loose the cords of Orion?

Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season,

or can you guide the Bear with its children?

Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?

Can you establish their rule on the earth?


That word mazzaroth is most interesting. It is used only here and nowhere else in the Bible. mazzaroth means the zodiac. That is, the constellations or star signs by which horoscopes are cast. Horoscope itself means the scope or outline of your fate from the “hour” (horos) when you were born.


The zodiac was known from Britain, to Europe, to Asia Minor, to India, to China. It was ancient science at its best. It combined very precise measurements of sun, moon, planets (wandering stars) and the fixed stars along with some chillingly accurate understanding of psychic phenomena.


Equally it was mixed up with what are lightly dismissed today as primitive superstitions. That is a mistake, a bad error of judgment. As Carl Jung observed “The question every astrologer puts is this: What are the effective forces and determinants of my fate beyond the reach of my conscious intention?”


Of course scientists today mostly do dismiss astrology as nonsense. They think of it as a horror-scape! The idea that the stars in the zodiac could possibly exert any influence over human life and destiny is wildly improbable, even impossible, to the modern astronomical mind.


In fact, it is a mystery to scientists why astrology continues to be so popular given the concerted efforts to expose it as fraudulent over the last few hundred years or so.


But astrology persists, and during the twentieth century science itself has been treated with much and ever-increasing suspicion. And the Bible itself tells me why that is so.


The old sciences - astrology, Pythagorean mysteries, sacred geometry - imparted meaning to human knowledge. They addressed the soul at the same time as they increased knowledge. The new sciences only impart knowledge - and it can be very suspect knowledge, transitory knowledge, knowledge without wisdom. And that is most unsatisfactory.

The story of how science in our time has ruthlessly suppressed scientists who fail to toe the party line makes a far greater horror story than Galileo’s “persecution”. No more so than the Gauquelins, French scientists, who in the 1950s set out to disprove astrology only to come up with the most astonishing reverse results. These results have withstood the most intense scrutiny over some 40 years but still the scientific establishment will not admit it has made a serious mistake.


The power of astrology is not to tell your fortune, but to constellate forces in the soul. Long after current science has become quaint theory, the Biblical astrology will be pointing a royal path to wisdom. That is why in many ancient cathedrals you will find the Gospel in the mazzaroth. It is seen in the half light of stained glass in sacred space. Chartres, some 80 kilometers from Paris, with its famous astrological window and numerous carvings of the mazzaroth is one of the best known. Even its orientation, aligned almost to the summer solstice, raises challenging issues in archaeo-astronomy.


The mid-summer solstice for Chartres and Stonehenge evokes a very different southern hemisphere perspective. The hard and bitter frosty nights open up views into the very heart of the universe. Scorpio rises to dominate the eastern sky, and the Southern Cross sings its silent song of triumph above a dimly comprehending planet.


The Gospel is in the stars and the stars are running their courses. Each year at this time, the gods come down to question us, to probe our knowledge, our sense of destiny and fulfilment. Then the One, behind, below, beyond and, above all gods, the Holy, insists that we stand up and give an account. Why we have begun to observe? Why we have grown conscious? Why we have awakened and to what end?


The questions grow ever more complex and run in so many different directions, yet they track to the same orbit, the same music of the spheres. Here, in this land, Maatariki (the Pleiades of the old world) signals the recurrence of the cycle, as it has in many places before.


As ethnographer Elsdon Best once wrote, "From some far land lost amid the shades of the setting sun the Maori brought hither the Pleiades year and his crude reckoning of time by the lunar month. He brought also the knowledge of Ra, and Sina, and Rongo, and Ira, and the Whanau Marama, the Shining Ones who gleam across the realm of Watea when Whiro sends darkness to cover the body of the old Earth Mother. He invokes the aid of those beings in his perilous journey down the path of life, for he believed them to be wondrous powers, to be potent gods in themselves."


Those gods and the stars and planets prick my conscience, delight and torment my rationality, insist upon searches for patterns and demand internal equilibriums of the soul by way of compensations and sacrifices.


We are children of star-dust; yet our whakapapa is more than the heavy metals of ancient stellar explosions, our minds more than electro-chemical pathways in brains. The west has been corrupted by selfish materialism at every level, and even science itself has become a caricature betokening what knowledge is not.


Truth and wisdom lie in a quite different direction, are pulled willingly into those orbits of the soul where tacit knowledge is more potent than intellect. It is found in the ancient astrologies and the places of departure, like Te Reinga, where the living and the dead see through golden mists into realms beyond imagining.


In truth, we are the universe looking at itself. We are the fishhook of Maaui, we catch ourselves, we catch our consciousness, our awakening, pull it up out of the deep and find new ground upon which to stand. Yet no physical territory is ground for ever.


Hence the dominance in the night sky of Maaui's fish-hook. The Scorpion is the bringer of death: the redeemer must die, the final conflict, the necessary, deadly conflict. In the tail of the Scorpion is the sting and only in the sting is the light of the Son.


The age of Pisces-Virgo is drawing to its close. The mazzaroth and its symbols have yet more to reveal. The world is changing and never more urgent was the need for the Church to live by its myths and into its myths and out of its myths.