In ancient Greek philosophy, the word arche aims to describe the 'primum mobile' or first principle of the world. According to the text 'what is the arche of the world?'
"The idea of an arche was first philosophized by Thales of Miletus, who claimed that the first principle of all things is water."
The word is implicit of the principle of the Godhead, the Divine, or that which arches over us.
The primary particle kata means 'to draw down from'. Placed in front of 'arche' it presents the notion of 'drawing down from above' or calling upon celestial help.
The word 'katarche' is often interpreted as 'beginning' or 'inception' but we get a much better sense of its meaning in ancient astrology by the alternative rendering 'auguration' or 'inauguration'. This word is usually used today to describe a ceremonial beginning or formal commencement (such as a formal induction into office). However, it also originates the word 'augur' which develops the related Latin words auspice and augury.
These words are related to the acts of drawing down the will of the gods/Divine, in order to bring a sacred blessing to a formal initiation, or to draw down their help by prayer or a request for a revelation of their will.
Hence the word 'katarche' has clear divinational undertones. Its ancient use as an astrological term can equally relate to electional astrology, inceptional astrology, or interrogational astrology. The latter, based on asking questions, is the early equivalent of what is practiced today under the title 'horary astrology'.
In later periods these three branches of astrology are often bracketed together under the title 'judicial astrology', to differentiate them from 'natural astrology' which was seen as a more scientific projection or humoural and meteorological effects.
|© Deborah Houlding, published online: 1st July, 2010