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Astrologers, Christianity, persecution ....
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Tumbling Sphinx



Joined: 02 Jan 2005
Posts: 247

Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 10:06 am    Post subject: Astrologers, Christianity, persecution .... Reply with quote

Sue wrote:
Quote:
“As much as many want to believe, the Christian Churc did not set out to destroy astrology. There were isolated times and cases where certain pockets of the Church tried to discredit it but at no time was there a serious push to punish astrologers or destroy it.”


Hmm, I’m not so sure about that.

ASTROLOGY UNDER CHRISTIANITY
(The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II)

From the start the Christian Church strongly opposed the false teachings of astrology. The Fathers energeticaly demanded the expulsion of the Chaldeans …

The noted mathematician Aguila Ponticus was expelled from the Christian communion about the year 120, on account of his astrological heresies. The early Christians of Rome, therefore, regarded the astrological as their bitterest and, unfortunately, their too powerful enemies; and the astrologers probably did their part in stirring up the cruel persecutions of the Christians.

As Christianity spread, the astrologers lost their influence and reputation, and gradually sank to the position of mere quacks.
The conversion of Constantine the Great put an end to the importance of this so-called science, which for five hundred years had ruled the public life of Rome.

In 321 Constantine issued an edict threatening all Chaldeans, Magi, and their followers with death.

Astrology now disappeared for centuries from the Christian parts of Western Europe. Only the Arabic schools of learning, especially those in Spain after the Moors had conquered the Iberian peninsula, accepted this dubious inheritance from the wisdom of classic times, and among Arabs it became incentive to pure Astronomical research. Arabian and Jewish scholars were the representatives of astrology in the Middle Ages, while both Church and State in Christian countries rejected and persecuted this false doctrine and its heathen tendencies.


http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02018e.htm

As this antagonism gathered force, astrologers had to contend with direct persecution by church authorities. In 1586, Pope Sixtus V issued a papal bull condemning magic and all forms of divination, including horary, electional and natal astrology. The Italian astrologer Jerome Cardan was arrested and held under house arrest by the Inquisition under suspicion of violating Sixtus' bull. In England, a Protestant country, astrologers were periodically hauled before church courts, although astrologers in London, like William Lilly, appear largely to have escaped prosecution.

http://www.renaissanceastrology.com/astrologyinrenaissancethree.html

Which traveled down via law to various parts of the globe through to current times …

Witches cleared for take-off - 21 July, 2005

IT is clear skies for witches and other followers of the occult in Victoria (Australia) with the repeal of an antiquated law making witchcraft, sorcery and fortune-telling criminal pursuits.

Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls has introduced legislation repealing the Vagrancy Act, saying many of the offences had no place in today's multicultural and tolerant society.

"It is almost 200 years old and is steeped in the language and attitudes of Dickensian England," Mr Hulls said.

The Vagrancy Act makes it illegal to pretend or profess to tell fortunes or "use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration.

The law also says anyone who "pretends from his skill or knowledge in any occult or crafty science to discover where or in what manner any goods or chattels stolen or lost may be found shall be guilty of an offence".


http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,16002315-1702,00.html
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Sue



Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 945
Location: Australia

Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course a Catholic website is going to say this stuff. This is historical revisionism at its best. If you read it carefully you will realise how apologist it is in its tone. Very little of it is based on historical reality.

Yes, Constantine did issue an edict at the first Council of Laodocia in 364CE in an attempt to stop priests from practising astrology. Yes, Aquila was excommunicated from the Church in 120. But there are other stories too that show Christians very much involved with astrology. In the Middle Ages, it was often the Church Fathers who were the greatest astrologers because they were the best educated. At this stage, astrology was still being taught in universities as part of the seven liberal arts. Below is just a very small sample of Christians and astrology.

In 371, the astrologer Heliodorus turned state’s evidence, revealing the plot against the emperor, Valens, in which he had been a consultant. Valens, apparently a fanatically Christian emperor, not only pardoned Heliodorus, but made him his own astrologer, bestowing on him a high office.

Albertus Magnus (Albert the Great) and Roger Bacon wrote extensively about astrology. One of the most well known works was The Speculum Astronomiae, which was purely about astrology. There is no conclusive agreement on whether it was Bacon or Magnus who wrote it but I'm backing Magnus. It is a fascinating book, and has some particularly interesting things to say about horary, or interrogations as the author calls them. Their astrological writing was well known to the Church. Bacon was beatified (almost but not quite a saint) and Magnus was canonised (made a saint).

The bull of 1586 expressly excluded certain forms of astrology, including prediction of natural events, from prosecution. What it was trying to stop was any astrology that seemed to be disallowing free will. This was the major issue the Church had with astrology. The reason this bull was reaffirmed in 1631 was because someone predicted the death of Urban VIII that year and it pissed him off. The astrologer was thrown in jail and died there that year. But in that same year, another astrologer predicted his death to be a few years later and turned out to be correct. He was praised for his ability.

In 1472, a comet appeared which caused the astrologer Perre le Lorrain to predict the death of Pope Paul II. Lorrain was imprisoned and told that he would be put to death if his prediction proved false. The pope died before the end of the very day Lorrain had predicted. Lorrain was released from prison and accorded great honours by the next pope. In these cases, the problem wasn't the use of astrology but the predictions themselves. As long as your prediction was right, you escaped any persecution.

An election chart for the commencement of St Peter’s Basilica was ordered by Pope Julius II in 1506. Julius always used electional astrology for everything.

There is a plethora of Christian artwork in Churches that include such things as the zodiac or the thema mundi. This was particularly evident in the late Middle Ages, early Renaissance period.

Anyway, this is just a very small collection of examples of how the Church involved itself in astrology rather than tried to destroy it. This does not mean to say that there were not times when the official position was to get rid of it but it is an exaggeration to say that Christianity destroyed astrology. What little evidence we have of astrologers being persecuted and put to death is, on closer inspection, usually found to be of a political nature rather than to do with astrology. Roger Bacon spent a few years under house arrest but it had very little, if anything, to do with astrology.

I think both astrologers and Christians have a vested interest in maintaining the line that Christianity destroyed astrology but it isn’t quite true.
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Andrew



Joined: 31 Dec 2004
Posts: 360

Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sue wrote:
Very little of it is based on historical reality . . . it was often the Church Fathers who were the greatest astrologers because they were the best educated.


This is an example of special pleading and spurious argumentation at its wildest. The overwhelming consensus of opinion both among the Apostolic Fathers and within the primitive Christian community was that astrology is astrolatry by any other name. Yes the Church (both Eastern and Western) often employed astrological iconograpy in its catechesis just as it had recourse to the sites of pagan temples and the celebration of pagan holidays, but that hardly constitutes a seal of approval. Nor do aberrant examples of astrological practise among popes or theologians provide justification for the assumption that the Church was morally neutral toward astrology. On an unofficial, informal level, the historical Church has tolerated or turned a blind eye toward many practises: but on a formal, magisterial level, there is not a single ecumenical council (either Eastern or Western), nor an episcopal statement, nor a papal magisterial decree, nor an officially sanctioned and approved theological doctrine, which in any way approves or supports the tenets of astrology, all other instances of private opinion and personal practise notwithstanding.

170 AD Tatian the Syrian "[Under the influence of demons] men form the material of their apostasy. For, having shown them a plan of the position of the stars, like dice-players, they introduce Fate, a flagrant injustice. For the judge and the judged are made so by Fate, the murderers and the murdered, the wealthy and the needy--[all are] the offspring of the same Fate" (Address to the Greeks Cool.

170 AD Tatian the Syrian "Such are the demons; these are they who laid down the doctrine of Fate. Their fundamental principle was the placing of animals in the heavens [as constellations] . . . these they dignified with celestial honor, in order that they might themselves be thought to remain in heaven and, by placing the constellations there, might make to appear rational the irrational course of life on earth. Thus the high-spirited and he who is crushed with toil, the temperate and the intemperate, the indigent and the wealthy, are what they are simply from the controllers of their nativity. For the delineation of the zodiacal circle is the work of the 'gods' . . . . But we are superior to Fate, and instead of wandering demons, we have learned to know one Lord, who wanders not" (Address to the Greeks 9).

211 AD Tertullian "We observe among the arts also some professions liable to the charge of idolatry. Of astrologers, there should be no speaking even; but since one in these days has challenged us, defending on his own behalf perseverance in that profession, I will use a few words. I allege not that he honors idols, whose names he has inscribed on the heaven, to whom he has attributed all God's power. . . . One proposition I lay down: that those angels, the deserters of God [demons] . . . were likewise the discoverers of this curious art [astrology], on that account also condemned by God" (Idolatry 9).

221 AD The Recognitions of Clement "Therefore the astrologers, being ignorant of such mysteries, think that these things [the disasters brought about by when demons inspire human sin] happen by the courses of the heavenly bodies; hence also, in their answers to those who go to them and consult them as to future things, they are deceived in very many instances. Nor is it to be wondered at, for they are not prophets; but, by long practice, the authors of errors find a sort of refuge in those things by which they were deceived, and introduce certain 'climacteric periods,' that they may pretend a knowledge of uncertain things. For they represent these 'climacterics' as times of danger, in which one sometimes is destroyed, sometimes is not destroyed, not knowing that it is not the course of the stars but the operation of demons that regulates these things; and those demons, being anxious to confirm the error of astrology, deceive men to sin by mathematical calculations, so that when they suffer the punishment of sin, either by the permission of God or by legal sentence, the astrologer may seem to have spoken the truth" (Recognitions of Clement 9:12).

221 AD The Recognitions of Clement "As usually happens when men see unfavorable dreams, and can make nothing certain out of them, when any event occurs, then they adapt what they saw in the dream to what has occurred; so also is [the] mathematics [of astrology]. For before anything happens, nothing is declared with certainty; but after something has happened, they gather the causes of the event. And thus often, when they have been at fault, and the thing has fallen out otherwise, they take the blame to themselves, saying that it was such and such a star which opposed, and that they did not see it; not knowing that their error does not proceed from their unskillfulness in their art, but from the inconsistency of the whole system. . . . But we who have learned the reason of this mystery know the cause since, having freedom of will, we sometimes oppose our desires and sometimes yield to them. And therefore the issue of human doings is uncertain, because it depends upon freedom of will. . . . And this is why ignorant astrologers have invented to themselves the talk about 'climacterics' as their refuge in uncertainties" (Recognitions of Clement, 10:12).

228 AD Hippolytus "How impotent [the astrologers'] system is for comparing the forms and dispositions of men with names of stars! For we know that those originally conversant with such investigations have called the stars by names given reference to propriety of signification and facility for future recognition. But what similarity is there of these [constellations] with the likeness of animals, or what community of nature are regards conduct and energy, that one should allege that a person born in Leo should be irascible [like a lion] and that one born in Virgo moderate [like a virgin] or one born in Cancer wicked [like a crab]?" (Refutation of All Heresies 4:37).

228 AD Hippolytus "It has been easily made evident to all that the heresy of the Peratae is altered in name only from the [art] of the astrologers. And the rest of the books of these contain the same method, if it were agreeable to anyone to wade through them all" (Refutation of All Heresies 5:10).

317 AD Lactantius "Demons are the enemies and harassers of men, and on this account [the sorcerer Hermes] Trismegistus calls them wicked angels; so far was he from being ignorant that from heavenly beings they were corrupted, and began to be earthly. These were the inventors of astrology, and of soothsaying, and divination, and those productions which are called oracles, and necromancy, and the art of magic, and whatever other evil practices these men exercise, either openly or in secret" (Divine Institutes 2:16).

317 AD Lactantius "[Demons] brought to light astrology, and augury, and divination; and though these things are in themselves false, yet they themselves, the authors of evils, so govern and regulate them that they are believed to be true. . . . Thus by their frauds they have drawn darkness over the human race, that truth might be oppressed, and the name of the supreme and matchless God might be forgotten" (Epitome of the Divine Institutes 2Cool.

362 AD Synod of Laodicea "They who are of the priesthood or of the clergy shall not be magicians, enchanters, [planetary] 'mathematicians,' or astrologers" (canon 36).

367 AD Athanasius "They [astrologers] have fabricated books which they call books of [astrological] tables, in which they show stars, to which they have given the names of saints. And therein of a truth they have inflicted on themselves a double reproach, those who have written such books, because they have perfected themselves in a lying and contemptible science [astrology], and as to the ignorant and simple, they have led them astray by evil thoughts concerning the right faith established in truth and upright in the presence of God" (Easter Letter 39:1).

370 AD Basil the Great "Those who overstep the borders, making the words of Scripture ["And God said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens . . . and let them be for signs and for seasons,'" Gen. 1:14] their apology for the art of casting nativities [horoscopes], pretend that our lives depend upon the motion of the heavenly bodies, and thus the Chaldeans read in the planets that which will happen to us. By these very simple words 'let them be for signs,' they understand neither the variations of the weather nor the change of seasons; they only see in them, at the will of their imagination, the distribution of human destines. What do they say in reality? When the planets cross in the signs of the Zodiac, certain figures formed by their meeting give birth to certain destinies, and others produce different destinies" (The Six Days Work 6:5).

392 AD John Chrysostom "Let us show forth by our actions all excellencies of conduct, and kindle abundantly the fire of virtue. For 'you are lights,' he [Paul] says, 'shining in the midst of the world' (Phil. 2:15). . . . And in fact a deep night oppresses the whole world. This is what we have to dispel and dissolve. It is night not among heretics and among Greeks only, but also in the multitude on our side, in respect of doctrines and of life. For many [Catholics] entirely disbelieve the resurrection; many fortify themselves with the horoscope; many adhere to superstitious observances, and to omens, and auguries, and presages" (Homilies on 1 Corinthians 4:11).

416 AD Augustine "Now I had also repudiated the lying divination and impious absurdities of the astrologers. . . . [and] I turned my thoughts to those that are born twins, who generally come out of the womb so near one to another that the small distance of time between them (however much force [astrologers] may contend that it has in the nature of things) cannot be noted by human observation or be expressed in those [planetary] figures which the astrologer is to examine that he may pronounce the truth. Nor can they be true; for looking into the same figures he must have foretold the same of Esau and Jacob, whereas the same did not happen to them. He must therefore speak falsely, or if truly, then, looking into the same figures he must not speak the same things. Not then by art but by chance would he speak truly" (Confessions 7:6:Cool.

416 AD Augustine "To whom then must we make an answer first--to the heretics or to the astrologers? For both come from the Serpent, and desire to corrupt the Church's virginity of heart, which she holds in undefiled faith" (Homilies on John 8:10).

416 AD Augustine "Every man twists for himself a rope by his sins. . . Who makes a long rope? He who adds sin to sin. How are sins added to sins? When the sins which have been committed are covered over by other sins. One has committed a theft. So that he may not be found out to have committed it, he seeks the astrologer [to prove his innocence]. It was enough to have committed the theft. Why will you add sin to sin? Behold! Two sins [are] committed! When you are forbidden to go to the astrologer, you revile the bishop. Behold! Three sins! When you hear it said of you, 'Cast him forth from the Church,' you say, 'I will go to the party of Donatus [the Donatist schism].' Behold! You add a fourth sin. The rope is growing. Be afraid of the rope. It is good for you to be corrected here, when you are scourged with it, that it may not be said of you at the last, 'Bind his hands and feet, and cast him forth into outer darkness' [Matt. 22:3] For 'with the cords of his own sins everyone is bound' [Pr. 5:22]" (Homilies on John, 10:5).
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Andrew



Joined: 31 Dec 2004
Posts: 360

Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This article, written by a Catholic theologian within an ecumenical context, reveals the fundamental philosophical incompatibility that exists between an astrological worldview and the orthodox, historical, Conciliar Christian revelation:

http://www.disf.org/en/Voci/39.asp

"Among the documents of the Magisterium of the Church of the first centuries, there are words of condemnation against astrology and the use of so-presumed zodiac rules in the Synods of Toledo (400), and Braga (561) (cf. DH 205; 459-460), and during the pontificate of Leo the Great (cf. Quam Laudabiliter , 21.7.447, DH 283). It is significant that during the Renaissance, Pope Pius II (1458-1464) had to condemn, against Zanino de Solcia, the tenet «that Jesus Christ suffered and died not for the redemption because of His love of the human race, but by the law of the stars» (DH 1364). Religion is never immune from the risk of being infiltrated by astrology. In contemporary times, it still finds room in the crevices of secularization, since it is unable to answer humankind's existential questions except by providing surrogates, which are easily consistent with laws of the market and the limited scientific formation of many, even in industrially developed worlds."

There are, of course, other perspectives: contemporary (post-Conciliar, post-Reformation) Christianity is not a monolithic religion (or even, as some would argue, a single religion, but a plurality of religions). Philip Melancthon was an astrologer, even though his mentor Martin Luther entertained doubts about it. But the consensus of doctrine and tradition in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches has been, and remains, overwhelmingly hostile toward astrology, even if those issuing the condemnations have occasionally employed its practitioners.
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Sue



Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 945
Location: Australia

Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We cannot assume that the threats in these doctrines were actually inacted. In fact, there is little evidence to suggest that many of these condemnations on paper were put into practise. When astrologers were condemned it was usually for another reason. It has also been suggested by scholars that some of the 'laws', like the one from Constantine at the Council of Laodocia, were a later interpolation in an attempt by later Christians to make a better case. Many of the more well known doctrines against forms of divination, such as the Theodosian Code, barely mention astrology.

If, in 500 years, historians look at the laws that were just removed from the Victorian lawbooks, they would be wrong to assume that these laws were ever inacted in recent years. Of course they weren't. Most people were completely unaware they were there. There was a similar situation in England where laws against astrologers were still there in the 1980's and no one had taken any notice of them.

The biggest threat to astrology often came, not from the Church, but from secular writers. One of the most well known attacks came from Pico della Mirandola. But again, there is evidence to suggest that much of what we have of his writing against astrology was an interpolation from his nephew and Savonarola after Pico died mysteriously at the age of 32 (possibly from being poisoned). The book remained unpublished when Pico died and the two men, who were vehemently opposed to astrology, 'edited' it for publication.

We have to be very careful not to extrapolate falsely from the written evidence.
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Tumbling Sphinx



Joined: 02 Jan 2005
Posts: 247

Posted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
“Of course a Catholic website is going to say this stuff.”


Yes, went 'straight to the horses mouth' so to speak – a Catholic website, representative of certain Church views which is correct enough in its facts re: “ but at no time was there a serious push to punish astrologers or destroy it.”

Actually, I think one example of such a push is enough.

There were periods in time where the Church/Christianity was directly involved in the persecution of astrologers for astrological practice and philosophy, noting too the conflicts between east & west. The church has not been immune from prejudice, ignorance and lust for power – knowledge is power as is money and it was well-versed in both – the Church’s heavy-handed actions giving rise to mass hysteria at certain times casting a veil of paranoia and superstition over astrological practices along with other occult practices.

The Church was active in politics and instrumental in implementing and policing certain laws – it created laws for society. Many people, including astrologers, lost their lives and/or liberty at the hands of such laws.

Whether it was the 321CE edict threatening death, Aguila’s ex-communication, Cecco d'Ascoli’s burning at the stake in 1327 for holding a too deterministic philosophy said to be teaching Christ’s story was astrological, the bull of 1586 expressly excluding certain forms of astrology, Giordano Bruno’s burning at the stake in 1600, Galileo Galilei’s book/teachings blacklisted by the Church and his later being sentenced to life imprisonment, the Inquisition, the Witchcraft Act of 1604 (on the back of earlier Acts) repealed in 1736 which then saw new law enacted which still made certain practices an offense; introducing words such as “pretending or claiming” because the prevailing view held was there was no such thing as ‘witchcraft’ (the defining of certain practices directly impacting astrologers and astrological practice) which traveled down through time and around the world – last acted upon in Britain in 1944 (not an astrologer on that occasion but a psychic) – finding it’s way into laws such as the Vagrancy Act (repealed only this year) I think probably provides enough examples of the Church’s efforts against astrology, penalizing of practitioners and driving astrologers/astrology and its disciplines - both intellectual/philosophical and practical - underground at certain times.

Astrology and Christianity were the pervasive and predominant philosophies throughout Europe, including England from 10th century AD. There was an uneasy truce between the two which was known to errupt (racially, politically, philosophically, academically). And when the two did come into conflict all hell broke loose.

Yes, the church was involved in astrology – many priests were students and covert practitioners of astrology and there were academic reasons for this, eg.

1.Translations of the works of the Greek philosophers including Boethius, Averroes, Avicenna, Plato, Aristotle and Herodotus into Latin by Arab scholars and the introduction of those texts into Britain 10th century;

2. the entry of such works into the monastries of Britain, which at that time were the sole sources of education for young boys of the country;

3.the necessity that anyone training for the priesthood at university (a theology degree) necessarily had to study the seven liberal arts, the quadrivium and the trivium, one of which was astronomia/astrologia. Studying astronomy also involved studying astrology.

St. Augustine, one of the first Catholic theologians, studied astrology but in his Civitate Dei (City of God) he denounced it. The Church took its lead from him and similarly condemned astrology for a millenium until St. Thomas Aquinas wrote his Summa Theologiae which relieved some of the tensions, to be followed by later tensions.

Quote:
“As long as your prediction was right, you escaped any persecution.”


Only after you'd already been persecuted.
This, as a prevailing view operative during certain periods, served to keep astrology operating 'underground' and paranoia/superstitions alive, not to mention that when the astrologer was released from prison he’d already been persecuted for his philosophy and the practical application of it.
He was liberated because the Pope died, the subject of his prediction was in no position to make good his threat, and lauded for his accuracy (the next Pope probably very pleased at his succession), but it was a different Pope, a different authority. However, had he been a day or more out then he'd have been off too. Others were not so fortunate.

NOSTRADAMUS, Quatrain 08-71: persecution of astrologers
Source text: Le Pelletier, 1867
Croistra le nombre si grand des astronomes
Chassez, bannis & liures censurez.
L'an mil six cens & sept par sacre glomes
Que nul aux sacres ne seront asseurez.


Translation (Van Berkel, 2002)
The number of astronomers will become very great,:
Driven out, banished and their books censured:
The year sixteen hundred and seven by holy assemblies,
Such that none will be safe from the holy ones.


Wöllner (1926) translated it and interpreted the third line as a reference to 1607 AD. Interesting to note what was going on around that time.

Quote:
“death is, on closer inspection, usually found to be of a political nature rather than to do with astrology.”


Astrology and politics go hand-in-hand (what area of life doesn’t involve politics, especially in the hallowed halls of church and academia?) … and has done so through the centuries. The Church was involved in politics, it was often a matter of philosophy and question of heresy. The separation between church and state - its influence over state and the politics of state - was something that occurred later.

Quote:
“it is an exaggeration to say that Christianity destroyed astrology.”


Can’t find who said Christianity destroyed astrology. However, if destruction had been successful and complete astrology wouldn’t be practiced today. The occult is 8th, true to form it hid from view – it went underground – some things just never die.

Quote:
“I think both astrologers and Christians have a vested interest in maintaining the line that Christianity destroyed astrology but it isn’t quite true.”


Again, I don’t know of any astrologers who hold to the view astrology was ‘destroyed’ by Christianity when evidence to the contrary is that it’s very much alive, albeit it having been banished and attempts made to bury it on occasions, nor am I sure what ‘vested interests’ they may have in advocating such a view … probably the politics of promotion!

Astrology and astrologers fell in and out of favour according to the various religious powers. I think to suggest the Church was not directly involved in pushes to stamp out astrological philosophy&practices (along with other ‘heathen’ philosophy/practices – that which it couldn’t eradicate it absorbed or held an uneasy truce with) and persecuting practitioners etc, falls wide of the mark.

Simply because the Church/Christianity studied it, depicted it in artworks etc doesn’t erase or white-wash its efforts to also demonise it, throw it into disrepute, prosecute and persecute astrologers for philosophy/practice.

The difficulty to dictate or control beliefs was recognised, it was far easier to direct and control practices in accordance with prevailing agendas via law – take away the ability to manifest philosophies via practice and it curbs proliferation - they go underground, into decline, and in so-doing such philosophy's and practices that embody the seed of truth have a way of accumulating power to emerge back onto the scene at some later date.
Silence is golden in the clergy (9th) – but it has its darker side.

And this has now strayed wide of the original thread topic (which has been very interesting, thanks all! ) – my apologies for the diversion, just found it a little odd.

Re: the comments about ‘design’ being human or angelic … just a thought, but perhaps a factor in this also involves translation.

For example, 'angel' (is visionary/inspirational), 'angle' (is observational) … and the difference between the two is a matter of el-le. (Old French it’s ‘angele’).
Perhaps the difference between ‘el’ (Arabic) and ‘le’ (Latin) – both have ‘ang’ in common, ie. ang/ank “to bend”.
And perhaps also the difference in language between say religion/faith (angel) and science (angle). In astrology, symbolised by Jupiter & Saturn, and the signs/houses they naturally & traditionally rule.

Combining the two, ie. “ang” and “le/el” we can end up with “to bend the” ... whether it’s angels or angles both involve a certain bending or translation of light, which is what we’re looking at with astrology.

Divining Nature or the Universe’s patterns/designs (the hand of God at work so to speak) involves observation which can lead to inspiration …

Perhaps both observation/inspiration (angles and angels) is the human contribution via translation/articulation according to one’s frame of reference (eg. religious/spiritual or scientific), the patterns simply awaiting recognition.
I’m inclined to think the actual formation of patterns/design predates human’s awareness – humans grow into awareness, ie. it’s more a matter of humans observing and being inspired to greater heights of consciousness through being able to appreciate the universal design of which they are a part (for which they’ve found numerous words to describe) in their efforts to understand the source, meaning and purpose of life/creation.

Some get stuck at the angles … others with the angels … and some freely wander between and combine the two – but perhaps it’s simply a matter of translation, literally, according to one’s preferences/attunement.
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Andrew



Joined: 31 Dec 2004
Posts: 360

Posted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sue wrote:
We cannot assume that the threats in these doctrines were actually inacted. In fact, there is little evidence to suggest that many of these condemnations on paper were put into practise.


These doctrines are mainly eschatological statements informed by traditional Christian theology, not civil laws. Historical Christianity was and is a religion of orthodoxy, not orthopraxy. For further information:

http://www.datasync.com/~wizard/CCCIntro.html

The teaching of the Church does not always coincide with the positions of individual Catholics. Nevertheless, regardless of what individual Catholics may say (or believe) about their faith, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official Catholic position. Its position on astrology is clear and unequivocal, regardless of whatever convoluted equivocations individual Catholics may bring to bear upon it:

"All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone" (CCC 2116).

The Catechism was written as a collegial effort of the Catholic bishops of the world; every statement in the Catechism was the subject of intense theological scrutiny. The words "horoscopes" and "astrology" were chosen with care.

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It has also been suggested by scholars that some of the 'laws', like the one from Constantine at the Council of Laodocia, were a later interpolation in an attempt by later Christians to make a better case.


Scholars suggest lots of things. That's what they do.

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Many of the more well known doctrines against forms of divination, such as the Theodosian Code, barely mention astrology.


Perhaps because there was no need for them to do so.

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If, in 500 years, historians look at the laws that were just removed from the Victorian lawbooks, they would be wrong to assume that these laws were ever inacted in recent years. Of course they weren't. Most people were completely unaware they were there. There was a similar situation in England where laws against astrologers were still there in the 1980's and no one had taken any notice of them.


Apples and oranges. The Apostolic Era can hardly be compared with post-Enlightenment, Victorian England. They were profoundly different spiritually, culturally, socially, and so on.
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Andrew



Joined: 31 Dec 2004
Posts: 360

Posted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tumbling Sphinx wrote:
Can’t find who said Christianity destroyed astrology. However, if destruction had been successful and complete astrology wouldn’t be practiced today.


No, it certainly wouldn't, but its destruction would be the result of an unintentional misunderstanding, not an actual persecution, you know. I mean, really, we have to cut the professional holy people some slack; the religious authorities are, after all, only doing their job, and goodness knows, it's a thankless task, especially when the salvation of souls is at stake, and all that, well, you know, other stuff, like, well, stuff . . .

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Divining Nature or the Universe’s patterns/designs (the hand of God at work so to speak) involves observation which can lead to inspiration … Perhaps both observation/inspiration (angles and angels) is the human contribution via translation/articulation according to one’s frame of reference (e.g. religious/spiritual or scientific), the patterns simply awaiting recognition … I’m inclined to think the actual formation of patterns/design predates humans’ awareness – humans grow into awareness, i.e. it’s more a matter of humans observing and being inspired to greater heights of consciousness through being able to appreciate the universal design of which they are a part (for which they’ve found numerous words to describe) in their efforts to understand the source, meaning and purpose of life/creation.


Yes! Exactly. Well put.
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Tumbling Sphinx



Joined: 02 Jan 2005
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Posted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
"... we have to cut the professional holy people some slack; the religious authorities are, after all, only doing their job, and goodness knows, it's a thankless task, especially when the salvation of souls is at stake, and all that, well, you know, other stuff, like, well, stuff . . . "


Lol!!! Yes, indeed.

And thanks, Andrew - greatly appreciated. Very Happy
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Sue



Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 945
Location: Australia

Posted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Whether it was the 321CE edict threatening death, Aguila’s ex-communication, Cecco d'Ascoli’s burning at the stake in 1327 for holding a too deterministic philosophy said to be teaching Christ’s story was astrological, the bull of 1586 expressly excluding certain forms of astrology, Giordano Bruno’s burning at the stake in 1600, Galileo Galilei’s book/teachings blacklisted by the Church and his later being sentenced to life imprisonment...


These are isolated incidents that are so well known that they are repeated ad nauseam. Have you ever wondered why d’Ascoli’s name is always mentioned if there are so many others like him? This is the commonly held belief about the death of d’Ascoli that most websites will probably tell you but it isn’t quite true. D'Ascoli was not burnt at the stake for his astrology regarding Christ. This is a fallacy that is often repeated but it is not true. He was professor of astrology at the University of Bologna when he accused Dante of heresy after defending astrologers from Dante’s hell. There were political reasons for his demise that had nothing to do with astrology but were partly related to his attack on Dante. Bruno was not burned at the stake for his astrology. There isn’t a lot of astrology in his work. Savonarola was one of the most outspoken bishops about astrology. He despised astrology. Didn’t stop him from being burnt at the stake.

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St. Augustine, one of the first Catholic theologians, studied astrology but in his Civitate Dei (City of God) he denounced it. The Church took its lead from him and similarly condemned astrology for a millenium until St. Thomas Aquinas wrote his Summa Theologiae which relieved some of the tensions, to be followed by later tensions.

There is a long list of Church writers on astrology between Augustine and Aquinas. Augustine got most of his arguments straight from Carneades who lived prior to the development of Christianity. Augustine’s views on astrology were hardly built on Christian theology. And even Augustine ended up agreeing that some forms of astrology were valid. His arguments in De Civitate Dei are pretty weak and not a great sign that he really knew much about astrology.

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Again, I don’t know of any astrologers who hold to the view astrology was ‘destroyed’ by Christianity when evidence to the contrary is that it’s very much alive, albeit it having been banished and attempts made to bury it on occasions, nor am I sure what ‘vested interests’ they may have in advocating such a view … probably the politics of promotion!

I wasn't really talking about astrologers specifically, although I have read several articles from astrologers saying exactly that. In fact, I was reading something written by Lee Lehman just the other day where she said that the main reason astrology fell out of favour was because of the pope getting sick of people predicting his death so he put a stop to astrology. I presume she was talking about Urban VIII. And I was not talking about modern astrology. I was talking purely historically. There is a belief that Christianity stamped out astrology and there is a belief that science stamped out astrology and this is why it disappeared in the 17th century. None of this is true. There is a long history of belief that Christians actively persecuted astrologers with large numbers being killed. People have believed that astrologers were persecuted during the Inquisition and put to death. Burckhardt, for example, wrote about the evils of astrology and how Christianity triumphed over astrology, mostly through the efforts of Pico who in reality had very little to say about astrology and Christianity in his attacks. Other historians took their lead from Burckhardt because he was the unquestioned authority on the Renaissance until recently.

Quote:
Simply because the Church/Christianity studied it, depicted it in artworks etc doesn’t erase or white-wash its efforts to also demonise it, throw it into disrepute, prosecute and persecute astrologers for philosophy/practice.

Of course they tried to throw it into disrepute, just like scientists do today when they go around signing declarations about astrology or write articles about how wrong it all is. You’ll find ample evidence of writings where members of the clergy have attempted to discredit astrology, although most writers believed that it worked. But the Church was certainly not a united front in the attacks on astrology. As I said, there is very little evidence to suggest that the Church carried out their threats. The fact that the names you mentioned above are always given as examples suggests that these are the only names available. Everyone always mentions d'Ascoli but I don't hear a lot of other names being mentioned. Lynn Thorndike said that there is no evidence of anyone else being burnt at the stake in those centuries where astrology is even referred to apart from d'Ascoli. If the Christian Church went to all the effort of recording their laws against astrology then surely we would have several records of those laws being enacted. We don’t. In the same way, there are no accurate records to suggest that millions of witches were burnt at the stake. The battle between Christianity and astrology was largely a philosophical battle, particularly from about the 12th century, and the battle was primarily to do with free will.
Some scholars are now suggesting as a result of their research (see for example, Valerie Flint) that the Church actively encouraged astrology at certain times in the belief that astrology was the lesser of two evils. If people were allowed to use astrology then they would stay away from real demonic influences. I have not looked into this enough to comment but it is possible.
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###



Joined: 08 Jul 2004
Posts: 1380

Posted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sue,

You aren’t looking for persecution, are you? Your posts have been very interesting and aren’t tainted with ‘they done us wrong’. You’ve given us facts. You have been presenting history with its complexity.

Sometimes we don’t like complexity and would prefer a simple enemy (and, therefore, an enemy’s victim—one we can relate to). You obviously have studied history without falling into the trap of using it. Good work!

Kirk
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Andrew



Joined: 31 Dec 2004
Posts: 360

Posted: Tue Nov 01, 2005 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyone who studies anything "uses" it in one form or another: only the disembodied are able to do otherwise.

Quote:
And even Augustine ended up agreeing that some forms of astrology were valid.


Which ones? Where? Which distinctions? Natural or judicial astrology?

Quote:
Augustine got most of his arguments straight from Carneades who lived prior to the development of Christianity. Augustine’s views on astrology were hardly built on Christian theology.


http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/jod/twayne/aug2.html

"Natural science is useful, but astronomy particularly is to be handled with care, since in antiquity astronomy included most of what we call astrology. Augustine's concern is to make sure the reader understands that for the Christian there can be no other independent, self-verifying, non-subjective source of knowledge besides divine inspiration working through the church and its scriptures. Omen and astrology are particularly to be avoided, but all abuse of the secular sciences is to be avoided."

Quote:
The battle between Christianity and astrology was largely a philosophical battle, particularly from about the 12th century, and the battle was primarily to do with free will.


http://www.smoe.org/arcana/astrol7.html

"The earliest Christians were Jews and had the same ambiguous attitudes toward astrological practices as other Jews. They were part of an astrological society, but they wanted to avoid idiolatry, worshiping gods other than the Father of Jesus. In general, Christian writers, particularly apologists and polemicists, were opposed to scientific and religious astrology. The former, they attacked for its determinism, which conflicted with their belief in free will. Usually they used the same arguments as Skeptical philosophers such as Carneades. Augustine makes the most detailed attack in City of God, one which modern astrologers still try to reply to in popular magazines."

http://gfisher.org/chapter_6.htm

"The Church continued to vigorously oppose astrology throughout the Middle Ages, and since astrology and astronomy were intertwined, the opposition sometimes spilled over to astronomy. Pierre Duhem says, speaking of medieval Italian astrologers: "To deny human freedom, to deny the miraculous action of Providence in the world, to use superstitious divinations and magical operations, was to contradict all Christian teaching and to contravene the most strict prescriptions of the Church. Among the adepts of astrology, then, and the ministers of Catholicism, a struggle was inevitable. Sometimes it was violent. The unbelieving astrologers who enlivened the spirit of the Court of Naples harshly attacked orthodox doctrine; and the mendicant monks, Dominicans and Franciscans, zealously defended dogma. The Church raged against impenitent error with the toughness which was the rule of the time, and over the history of Italian astronomy in the Middle Ages the flame of the stake sometimes threw its bloody gleam." (Pierre Duhem, Le Système du Monde, 1913, v. 4, p. 187-188.)"

http://history.wisc.edu/sommerville/367/367-121.htm

"During the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, the clergy were far more united in their opposition to astrology than scientists were. Nevertheless, science probably played a far larger role in the decline of astrological belief. In particular, the insistence on systematic empirical investigation established standards that astrology could not meet."

http://www.philosophy.leeds.ac.uk/GMR/homepage/ueberweg.html

"In the earliest phase, arguments about astrology were dominated by its relation to the Christian religion, though not to the complete exclusion of empirical and philosophical issues. The Church was officially opposed to astrology; but there was always a certain amount of hypocrisy and disobedience even within the hierarchy, and repeated pronouncements against it were necessary."

http://aries.phys.yorku.ca/~mmdr/1800/astrology-faq-synopsis.html

"One of the longest-standing knocks against astrology has been its explicitly deterministic view of human nature. This, for example, is a major reason why Christianity and Judaism have been traditionally so opposed to astrology, at least in principle. Modern astrologers, however, are far more clever at marketing their product. Thus, "Nobody can tell someone what to do with his or her life" has a rather strong indeterministic and decidedly egalitarian ring to it, apparently quite far removed from the notion that the stars control one's life. Moreover, the author appeals to the democratic, anti-clerical yearnings of most Americans by downplaying the importance of the "priesthood," ie., astrologers, and emphasizing the role and responsibility of the individual.

"The truth, however, is that this response and those which follow still preach determinism, albeit rather more subtlely. By knowing and recognizing one's particular resonances with the stars, one can tailor one's decisions to have a maximal positive effect on one's life (career, relationships, etc.). This may appear to dismiss the role of "fate" and admit free will into the discussion, but this is only an illusion. Inherent in this argument is that there are signs in the heavens and that one will benefit tangibly from recognizing and following them. This is the same old argument, but dressed up in modern apparel!"
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Sue



Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 945
Location: Australia

Posted: Tue Nov 01, 2005 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Kirk,

Thanks for that. You have a good point and it is similar to the one I was trying to make earlier about vested interests. People do not want to shift from their comfort zone and look at things objectively. It is much simpler to believe that Christians have always persecuted astrologers rather than look at the complexities of the issue.


Andrew,

All you have done is responded to my arguments with a series of links and quotes from dubious websites. I know I can be argumentative but I draw the line at arguing with a bunch of virtually anonymous people who may or may not have any justification in saying what they have said. It is completely meaningless. I could find just as many sites that say the complete opposite. I never look to the web to do research of this nature. As Deb said to you earlier, you never know what you are getting.
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Deb
Administrator


Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 4130
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Posted: Tue Nov 01, 2005 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’ve been wanting to comment in this thread but I’m a bit under the weather with flu at the moment. I only managed to get as far as a response to TS’s post. I’m hoing to catch up with the rest later.

The Catholic Encyclopedia writes:

Quote:
From the start the Christian Church strongly opposed the false teachings of astrology. The Fathers energeticaly demanded the expulsion of the Chaldeans …


Yet there is no doubt that astrology was welcomed and prospered because it so closely adhered to the principles of Stoicism which taught that life was fated and regulated by an encompassing Universal Spirit. Of this E.V. Arnold writes in The Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethic:

Quote:
From the 3rd century onwards Stoicism was rapidly absorbed in Christianity. … It is greatly desired that modern Christian Theologians should be equipped with a better knowledge of the philosophy which more than any other was a nursing-mother to the church


Astrology expressed stoicism, and so it was largely welcomed in Rome and infiltrated all aspects of Roman life.

The Catholic Encyclopedia writes:

Quote:
In 321 Constantine issued an edict threatening all Chaldeans, Magi, and their followers with death.


Even so, the political edicts against the practice of astrology started as early as 139 BC. Because the ‘Chaldeans’ who brought astrology to Rome were orientals, and astrology was used to instigate a series of oriental slave uprisings. There were endless political sensitivities connected to the use of astrological prediction, by which even emperors could be brought down. That’s why practitioners of ‘judical astrology’ have had to walk a tightrope with political authorities throughout history. But astrology as a natural philosophy wasn’t controversial, and is so embedded into the philosophy of Christianity that many influential practitioners have been allowed to ‘cross the line’ on several occasions before being rebuked.

The Catholic Encyclopedia writes:

Quote:
Astrology now disappeared for centuries from the Christian parts of Western Europe.


As did the pursuit of many branches of knowledge in Western Europe. Ancient libraries holding great classical works were repeatedly sacked on the basis that they either held the same cultural views of the invaders, or else were the source of falsehood. That’s why the period in which astrology is supposed to have disappeared from Christian teachings (it didn’t) is also known as the dark ages.


From Renaissance astrology:

Quote:
The Italian astrologer Jerome Cardan was arrested and held under house arrest by the Inquisition under suspicion of violating Sixtus' bull.


By this time Cardan had spent a life time acquiring political enemies. But he was highly respected for his knowledge, including his astrological skill. His enemies descended when he insisted on publishing the horoscope of Christ, even though he had been warned against doing this because he had so many enemies and it was so sacrilegious. No one objected to Cardan being an astrologer per se. At the same time Lucus Garicus, one of the most famous astrologers of the period, was made an influential Bishop. And popes were certainly using astrology. Not just tolerating it, actively using it.


Quote:
In England, a Protestant country, astrologers were periodically hauled before church courts, although astrologers in London, like William Lilly, appear largely to have escaped prosecution.


For political reasons. Astrologers were mainly protected against church prosecution because the philosophy that supported astrology came from the same source as the philosophy that supported Christianity.

The Victorian era is a different story, but by then no one expected world views to be tied to astrology or Christianity. The links between the two were barely remembered.

I wonder if anyone can remember the details of the Catholic priest who has commented on the lack of contradiction in the two doctrines and had articles published in the ALL’s Quarterly a few years ago. My brain is not very lively at the moment so all I can venture is – I think it was ‘Father’ something
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Andrew



Joined: 31 Dec 2004
Posts: 360

Posted: Tue Nov 01, 2005 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sue wrote:
All you have done is responded to my arguments with a series of links and quotes from dubious websites. I know I can be argumentative but I draw the line at arguing with a bunch of virtually anonymous people who may or may not have any justification in saying what they have said. It is completely meaningless. I could find just as many sites that say the complete opposite. I never look to the web to do research of this nature. As Deb said to you earlier, you never know what you are getting.


Had I not responded to your arguments with a series of links and quotes it is likely you would have asserted I had failed to provide any sources to support my position. Most of the links and quotes are from academic and scholarly sources which in turn quote patristic texts and research from related disciplines. I can understand why you would find these sources to be somewhat dubious if not completely meaningless. The links and quotes from the web are mostly from reputable academic sources: I could just as easily have quoted from hard copy, but you often never know what you are getting there either.

No, Christians have not always persecuted astrologers: I have never argued that they did. The term "Christians" is far too ambiguous to support such an assertion in the first place. What I have argued is that there has always been, from the very beginning of "orthodox" Christian belief and practise as articulated by the Fathers of the Church Eastern and Western (i.e., PATRISTIC THEOLOGY), a profound philosophical incompatibility between the astrological worldview and the Christian worldview, and consistent theological condemnation of the practise of genethliacal astrology, idiosyncratic exceptions to this condemnation notwithstanding. To claim otherwise in an attempt to gild the lily in order to make one's case to the contrary is really just too much. Such arguments would never be seriously considered in reputable and established academic institutions, let alone orthodox institutions of theological studies.


Last edited by Andrew on Tue Nov 01, 2005 5:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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