Cosmology! “the scientific study of large scale properties of the universe as a whole.”
The first image above is a “star swarm” located within our Milky Way Galaxy–23,000 light years from Earth. The second image is a Hubble “Deep Field View” of more than 10,000 galaxies–pictured as they appeared more than a billion years ago. Cosmologists study measurements of Universe and opine about its evolution and our origins.
In today’s post, as students of a Western Mystery Tradition with a bias for the esoteric or spiritual leanings of the tradition, we are going to compare and contrast Cosmology and Astrology. Cosmology is a formal branch of Astronomy. Astronomy, the study of celestial objects and space, is a product of rational inquiry and independent verification, a methodology of scientific catechizing attributable to the West—from the 15th and 16th centuries in Europe forward. Witness: astronomical observers Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo–each of whom was an astrologer.
Astrology is an art whose origins are lost to history. There is evidence of astrological observations across diverse cultures and thousands of years–from Mayan to Native American, to Incan, China, Persia, Sumeria, India, and Chaldea. Astrology, for centuries, was part of the Western academy–some portion of every University faculty was comprised of scholars with astrological training, including theologians, well into the Christian era.
Astronomy relies upon instrumentation to augment the senses, viz., land and space based telescopes, computers, advanced mathematics and techniques including spectrophotometry. The findings of the Cosmologist and Astronomer are subject to independent verification; not so, Astrology.
Both Cosmologist and Astrologer, however, share a common interest in light. A common interest serving two very different purposes. One scientific; one existential.
Original light: non-waking awareness, existential, symbolic, Astrology. Time-present. Dark. Moon. What is sacred.
Created light–illumination available to waking awareness, independent verification, Cosmology. Time-past. Radiant. Sun. What is profane (secular).
The Cosmologist pays attention to Created light, its permutations and attributes as illumination–namely, starlight. The Astrologer ponders Original light–light that is aboriginal, sacred, symbolic and a priori to created light.
Original light in the Western hermetic tradition is attributed to Day One of the Genesis story: “Let there be Light!” preceding All. Sun and Moon, and stars, as radiant and reflected light objects, are created on Day Four—after trees, fruits, grasses, seeds and the consolidation of seas on Day Three.
Expressed as seeds and fruit, the capacity for transformational change is intrinsic to Universe before the Sun and Moon and stars arrive as light “for seasons and for days and years”. Prefiguring magnificent and indigenous trees (of Life) from seed, existential universe is so provisioned before waking awareness, as nakedness and shame (early ego), enters the garden.
The Moon is a special luminary because it reflects light only. The Moon is not a star. [By this definition, Earth and Earthians, are a beautiful blue plural integrity—luminary.] The Moon is also the only Earth orbiting entity in our local system of Created sunlight.
If Original light is Yin–Created light would not be Yin also–it would be Yang. We err if we surmise our experience in a waking state to be a proxy for the noumenal, the holy, or the sacred. The noumenal is wholly other.
It is not a choice to see with secular sight in a waking state. In a waking state secular sight is all that is humanly possible.
“If we can only ponder the Sun, the Moon is not knowable. When we gaze upon the Moon, the Moon always includes the Sun by reflection. We see the Moon and by extension, infer the Sun for its reflected radiance.” Post. No. 4 Inner and Outer Experience.
Moses describes Original light this way: from the Torah, Book of Exodus, attributing to G-d* these words, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see [Original light] and live” (Exodus 33:20).
* [Omitting the letter “o” to complete the spelling of “God” was deemed an act of hubris and thereby to be avoided. The humbler abbreviation, “G-d”, for millenia–was the convention.]
Prior to the transfiguration (when his (our) sacred nature is revealed) Jesus describes Created light as a veil hiding Original light, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”–(John 14:9).
The AF would add…”Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father without realizing it.” Why?
The Father is Original light. Original light is something “Nature hath not made”. And Moses has already weighed in–“no one may see [Original light] and live”. At the transfiguration of Jesus—Moses and Elijah who have encountered Original light, are present to bear witness. (Matthew 17:3). Viewing the Books of John and Matthew this way is a good example of applied Biblical typology. And, for the modern era reader, Father, Mother attributions are moot. Original light is a probabilistic integrity beyond “I and Thou”.
The work of Northrop Frye, the renown Canadian literary critic and Biblical typologist has been referenced previously. The presence of Moses at the transfiguration of Jesus, typologically speaking, links Original light with the incarnated Jesus–as evidence of Timelessness participating in Time (the Eternal intercepting history). A personal relationship with Original light thereby becomes possible. This is what the Gospel calls “the Good News”.
Beginning with Abraham, continuing through Moses and the Exodus, the journey of transformation will become an encounter with shepherds who are visited in a field at night. It is okay to think of the shepherd as an Astrologer—available for the unsummoned visit by starlight.
In future posts we will set a seat at the table for insights that flow from the Kabbalah. Eleventh and twelfth century Jewish and Christian Kabbalists made a lasting contribution to the esoteric heritage of the Western Mystery Tradition, and this contribution is ongoing. They have a lot to say about Original light. We conclude today’s reflection with a quote from a recently departed grassroots cosmologist.
“The density of matter in the Universe is only 20 drops of water in a billion cubic miles. That’s all the creation the good Lord’s come up with, and it’s no big thing.” —John Dobson, 1915-2014
Current consensus: Universe is energy, intercepted by space, transformed by gravity, nominally expressed as matter (particles or waves); repeat.
John Dobson was born in Beijing, China 1915. He earned a masters degree in chemistry from U C Berkley in 1943. He would work professionally as a chemist, avocationally as a grassroots cosmologist, and, beginning in 1944, a long-term monastic resident of the Vedanta Society Ramakrishna Order. Dobson is an interesting embodiment of East and West. In the 1990s we were introduced to John’s “sidewalk astronomy” classes in Los Angeles by daughter Emily. John is a third decanate Virgo, third decanate Scorpio Moon.
Relative to the physical, Universe is big—and expanding, likely, accelerating. How much matter v space is there? “20 drops in a billion cubic miles” according to Dobson. In such a profound context, so vast is space relative to matter, a mere iota of energy captured by gravity is significant. Each drop–no, nano-droplet–becomes precious! Precious? “…the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30).
“Primitive man was clairvoyant: that is, he was sensitive to the impulses of the spiritual world. He was aware of the mystical structure of the cosmos. Gradually this consciousness which linked him to the inner plane of [non-waking] life and the causal nature of the world faded out until nothing but a kind of dream memory remained. This dream memory is the root of mythology and fables, and also the cause of man’s intellectual impulse to learn and to know. This is the meaning of Plato’s immortal words, ‘Learning is remembering’.” (From “Philosophy of Astrology” by Manly P. Hall, 1943.) “It is this memory that is the foundation of esoteric astrology.” Ibid.
Precious, is a non-scientific acknowledgement by sentient observers–not an attribute of Space. “Preciousness” is a qualitative idea. It will likely defy independent verification and shall remain, consequently, beyond the reach of science. May we entertain a non-scientific cosmology? We move in the this direction without apology; how else to explore concepts like “precious”? Or, love? A moral dimension to Universe is implied. Are such questions of morality about 20 drops of water or the billion cubic miles that holds them? I see a smiling Buddha. Shall we sleep on it?
Until we re-connect, we bid you peace. Thank you for the kindness of your attention.
Should you have time to consider a musical reflection to accompany this post, we refer you to Evan Stover, Jay Unger, Matt Glaser, Molly Mason & Russ Barenberg’s 2005 instrumental performance, “Ashokan Farewell”. Post No. 9 is about Light–as it might be considered by the Cosmologist v the Astrologer. The musical selection, for American ears especially, hails to a remarkable time in our past, a Civil War, when Original Light, while limitless, was seemingly in scarce supply–not unlike today. The current Pluto Saturn constellation in Capricorn is not soon to wane. If the music moves you, even to sentiment, may it remind us of the peace in the turbulence. As we learn, again, how it is we secularize badly.
“Star Swarm” and “Deep Field View” opening images: Source: https://www.inverse.com/article/40937-hubble-image-star-swarms-holds-milky-way-clues; Source: http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1984100_2129320,00.html
A Reference of symbols, charts and definitions important to Western Mystery Tradition studies is listed as Post No. 900. Enter “900” in the Search box to be directed to this location.
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