Introduction To The Fixed Stars

Johannes van Keulen 1709

The Fixed Stars represent an important and exciting ancient resource of knowledge for astrology on which much solid work has been done in the past and into our own times. But this is not currently a widely known field of astrology and the present work aims to greater clarity and organization of what knowledge is available to us that can be of assistance to research.

Up until the Renaissance, the fixed stars used to be a standard part of astrology, but the marked fatalism associated with their Middle Ages interpretations fell into disfavor.

According to William Lily in Christian Astrology:

“the Fixed stars give great gifts, and elevate even from poverty to an extreme height of fortune, the seven planets do not do so”.

The Arabs are the source for nearly all the names of the individual stars we use in western astronomy. Much of their knowledge of the fixed stars derived from the ancient Latin and Greek writings, some of which are now extinct.

All the stars are based upon a more fundamental grouping into constellations; a group of stars near each other in space, resembling each other in certain characteristics, that suggest a common origin for the group.

The names of the stars have been and remain very important for our understanding of them. The Bible tells us that God named (names) all stars:

 “He counts the stars and calls them all by name” – Psalm 147:4

Of the constellations Vivian Robson (Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, Vivian E. Robson, 1923, p.23) says:

“To those actively engaged in a study of stellar and constellational influences, it will soon become apparent that these seemingly fanciful shapes are in reality a fair representation of the collective influences of the stars contained in them and that the constellation of the Dog (Canis Major), for example, actually influences dogs, ridiculous as it might appear. This of course, may be explained by assuming that the ancients based the figures and divisions of the constellations upon their knowledge of the influence of each, but the same cannot be said of the “modern” constellations, and it is an amazing fact, though easily proved that these new constellations also closely represent the nature of the influences of the names they are given. The rationale of this is inexplicable and we can only suppose that the originators were in some way led to choose the most appropriate figure”.

Undoubtedly, as has often been observed, the stars are never misnamed. The random naming of asteroids and planets by astronomers with no belief in astrology always works in terms of symbolic significance. Scientists can be seen to elect names with the appropriate references in mythology for the way they are found to work archetypally and psychologically. It is therefore natural to suppose that most of what we know about fixed stars and the myths of the constellations, is derivative from a primary revelation to humanity to which the empirical observations of the centuries were added through observations of the manifestations of their effect. But whatever we are looking at, it is something quite special, even within astrology.

The traditional influences of the stars that have been handed down to us are derived from the myths and lore and the nature of the features of the constellations, along with empirical evidence: The Swan (Cygnus) gives a loves of swimming. The Triangle (Triangulum) gives interest and ability in architecture, science and mathematics. Argo Navis, the Ship, rules ships and gives its natives prosperity in trade and voyages.

Manly P Hall said in the The Secret Teachings Of All Ages:

“The ancients believed that the theory of man being made in the image and likeness of God was to be understood literally. They maintained that the universe was a great organism not unlike the human body and that every phase and function of the universal body had correspondence in man and this was termed the law of analogy  Therefore to the ancients, the study of the stars was a sacred science, for they saw in the movement of the celestial bodies the ever-present activity of God (p.134). The Pagans looked upon the stars as living things, capable of influencing the destines of individuals, nations and races (p.125). It was believed that the souls of the gods were taken into the heavens where they shone forth as stars. It was supposed that the soul of Isis gleamed from the Dog Star, Sirius, while Typhon (Egyptian devil) became the constellation of the Bear (Ursa Major)(p.103).”

Paraceleus (The Secret Teachings of All Ages, By Manly P. Hall, p.137.) said;

“The Body comes from the elements, the soul from the stars, and the spirit from God. All that the intellect can conceive of comes from the stars (the spirits of the stars, rather than the material constellation). It was believed that the spirit of man descended into material existence through the Milky Way – the seed ground of the souls – through one of the twelve gates of the great zodiacal band. The spiritual nature was therefore said to incarnate in the form of the symbolic creature created by Magian stargazers to represent various zodiacal constellations. If the spirit incarnated through the sign Aries it was said to be a Ram; if in Taurus, in the body of the celestial Bull. The theory of transmigration was not applicable to the visible body of man, but rather to the invisible immaterial spirit, wandering along the pathway of the stars and sequentially assuming in the course of evolution the forms of the sacred zodiacal animals”.

The fixed stars are thought of as channeled through and having affinity with the planets and here I will quote from Giorgio de Santillana chapter XI of Hamlet’s Mill:

“The essence of true myth is to masquerade behind seemingly objective and everyday details borrowed from known circumstances. The gods of the ancients are really stars, the forces reside in the starry heavens and all the stories, characters and adventures narrated by mythology concentrate on the active powers among the stars which are the planets. A prodigious assignment it may seem for those few planets to account for all those stories and also to run the affairs of the whole universe. What, abstractly, might be for modern men the various motions of those pointers over the dial became, in times without writing, where all was entrusted to images and memory, the Great Game played over aeons, a never-ending tale of positions and relations, starting from the assigned Time Zero, a complex web of encounters, drama, mating and conflict. Lucian of Samosata, that most delightful writer of antiquity, the inventor of modern science fiction who knew how to be light and ironic on serious subjects without frivolity, and was fully aware of the ‘ancient treasure’ remarked once that the ludicrous story of Hephaistos the Lame surprising his wife Aphrodite (Venus) in bed with Mars, and pinning down the couple with a net to exhibit their shame to the other gods, was not idle fancy, but must have referred a conjunction of Mars and Venus and it is fair to add, a conjunction in the Pleiades. This little comedy may serve to show the design, which turns out to be constant; the constellations were seen as setting, or the dominating influences, or even only the garments at the appointed time by the Powers in various disguises on their way through heavenly adventures”.

The positions of the stars in the sky has particular meanings in their relationship with each other. Rab Wilkie from the festival group explains:

“Within the celestial sphere of reference there’s a hierarchy of latitudinal layers or zones, much like the climatic zones of Earth which are controlled in effect by equator, tropics, polar circles. The higher that stars are, the more they symbolically relate to ‘higher things’ – objectives, goals, aspirations. At the level of the zodiac we are in the arena of current events, mundane issues and reality. The pole-star itself represents the highest aspiration and source of inspiration. This is seen as the ultimate Guide and Heaven’s Gate”.

Paraceleus said:

“Many stars have not yet cast their influence, that is why there are many arts and sciences yet to be discovered”

Since the advent of the telescope, many new stars, galaxies, black holes, asteroids and planets have been discovered, extending our senses and bringing into our consciousness new energy.Anne Wright 1996 (c)