A Modern Path of the Magi

At the culmination of the ancient tradition of star wisdom appeared the three Magi, also known as the three kings, who came from Babylonia across to Bethlehem to pay homage to the newborn child. What stands behind this? Here we touch upon one of the deeper mysteries, the significance of which is that the ancient star wisdom had to pass through the "needle's eye" of Christianity. The three Magi hold the key to this step because they were representatives of the ancient star wisdom who came to visit the founder of Christianity. If we are concerned with finding a modern path leading to a new wisdom of the stars, we need to connect onto the spiritual tradition of the Magi. This means connecting onto the sidereal zodiac, which was used by the Babylonian priesthood up until about the year A.D. 75. Around this time the last remnants of Babylonian culture disappeared altogether. Its mission, bound up with the Magian spiritual stream, had been fulfilled by the three Magi. With the disappearance of Babylonian culture, the sidereal zodiac vanished in the West. However, it became transmitted to India, where it is still used to the present time, albeit in modified form. In the West it disappeared completely and only re-emerged again toward the end of the nineteenth century. This came about through the excavation of cuneiform texts from Babylon. The work of translating the texts brought to light that the Babylonians had used another zodiac, the sidereal zodiac. The ancient sidereal zodiac is different from that which is used in present-day astrology, the tropical zodiac, which became introduced by the Greeks. In seeking a new star wisdom, we need to return to the original zodiac based on spiritual perception of the reality of the spiritual beings of the cosmos.

To attain to this spiritual perception, it is important to start with physical perception of the planets, stars, and constellations. Has anyone seen Venus recently? Whether or not the planet of Aphrodite is visible right now, this is something one can learn about from the yearly Christian Star Calendar, in which the positions of the planets are given day by day together with brief indications regarding viewing of the planets in the night sky. In the Christian Star Calendar, in giving degrees in the zodiac to the planets, it is in terms of the original zodiac, the sidereal zodiac, which is defined in relation to the stars themselves. For example, Regulus is at 5 degrees Leo, in the middle of the first decan of Leo [click here concerning the Egyptian decans]. The Babylonians determined where the planets were by observing them in relation to the stars. They had specified the degrees of the zodiacal stars by way of careful measurement and observation. Knowing the degrees of the zodiacal stars, they were able through observing the planets in relation to the zodiacal stars to determine the zodiacal locations of the planets. It was a completely different way of finding the positions of the planets than what is done now in modern times, where observing the movements of the planets in relation to the stars is hardly practiced at all. In modern times everything is done by way of computation and there is not much star-gazing, which was the foundation of the ancient star wisdom. Star-gazing, however, is just as valid now - as a starting point toward star wisdom - as it was in ancient Babylon down to the time of the three Magi.

For example, if one were to look at the night sky and see a planet in conjunction with Antares, the heart of the Scorpion, one would know that this planet's zodiacal degree is 15 degrees Scorpio. For the red super giant Antares, located in the middle of the second decan of Scorpio, is at 15 degrees Scorpio. Antares is called the heart of the Scorpion. Seeing a planet in this position, near Antares, tells us that it is at (or near) 15 degrees Scorpio. However a tropical astrologer, upon consulting an ephemeris, would say that it is in Sagittarius. The world of modern tropical astrology does not correspond with the real world where the planets actually are in the night sky. It is a peculiar thing to hear someone say that a planet is in Sagittarius when, at the same time, upon looking at the night sky, one sees that this planet is close to Antares marking the heart of the Scorpion.

Scorpio is a very striking constellation. The stars to the right of Antares mark the claws of the Scorpion, and those to the left, arching down, mark the tail. This is what one sees in contemplating the brightest stars in this constellation [click here]. Connecting the stars, this is how we see the sign of Scorpio, and the drawing of the astrological glyph represents a mirror image of what we see. The images seen clairvoyantly on the astral plane are the reverse of how we see them physically in the night sky, and it is these clairvoyant images that form the basis for the astrological glyphs representing the signs of the zodiac.

Just above the tail of the Scorpion there is a region of space which no prominent visible star actually marks - by "visible" I mean visible to the naked eye. It is a place toward which the arrow of Sagittarius the Archer points. Right at the location indicated by the tip of the Archer's arrow and also by the upward-pointing tip of the tail of the Scorpion is the direction of the Galactic Center, which is located much further away than the visible stars that define the constellations of Scorpio and Sagittarius [click here]. The Galactic Center is approximately 25,000 light years away, so we cannot see it, as it is hidden by interstellar clouds of dust. The Galactic Center is the great and powerful center of our Milky Way galaxy. Our Sun revolves around this center once in about 227 million years. All the stars in the Milky Way galaxy - the current estimate is that there are approximately two hundred billion stars - revolve slowly in a clockwise direction around the Galactic Center [click here]. If we contemplate the power of our Sun, with eight (or nine) planets and countless asteroids revolving around it, we can begin to gain a sense for the power of the Galactic Center which is holding some two hundred billion stars in their orbits. The region of the Galactic Center is a very significant location in the zodiac, at 2 degrees Sagittarius. Since the year 2006 Pluto has been in Sagittarius in close proximity to the Galactic Center. Three conjunctions of Pluto with the Galactic Center took place during the year 2007 (the second, central one of the three was on July 17, 2007) [click here]. Because Pluto moves so slowly it remains in the vicinity of the Galactic Center for a long time.

In the spirit of a modern path of the Magi based on star-gazing, let us turn to consider the constellation of Leo which, like Scorpio, is a majestic gathering of stars in the night sky. Whereas Antares, the heart of the Scorpion, is the brightest star in Scorpio, the brightest star in Leo is Regulus, the Lion's heart. Above Regulus there is a less bright star (Eta Leonis, which will be referred to simply as Eta), and we see another two stars further above (Algieba and then, above Algieba, Adhafera). These three stars (from above down: Adhafera, Algieba, Eta) are in the region of the head/mane of the Lion, whereas Regulus marks the heart. If we then look across to the left of these four stars, we see a triangle of stars. Two stars in the triangle are above one another. The upper one, Zosma, marks the back of the Lion, and the lower one, Chort, marks the flank of the Lion. Further across to the left of Chort is the star Denebola, the second brightest star in Leo, marking the tail of the Lion [click here]. These seven stars are important stars that form a whole system working upon the seven chakras of the human being [click here]. Connecting these seven stars, we see how the sign of Leo is imbedded in the constellation of the Lion, and how the astrological glyph for Leo is a mirror image of the sign of Leo formed by these seven stars. Not only is it so with the stars comprising Leo but also with each of the twelve zodiacal signs that their stars are imprinted within us.

Leo is imprinted within us in the human heart and also in the circulation of the blood which is streaming out from the heart to the periphery and then streaming back to the heart again. The sign of Leo expresses this quality of life circulating within us. Moreover, in relation to the seven chakras, the region of the human heart is connected to the star Regulus, since the heart chakra corresponds to Regulus, and the three stars above Regulus are connected with the upper three chakras (throat, brow, crown) in the region of the head. The three stars comprising the triangle to the left of these four correspond to the three lower chakras (solar plexus, sacral, root), whereby the root chakra corresponds to Denebola, the sacral chakra to Chort, and the solar plexus chakra to Zosma. These seven prominent stars in Leo, while working organically upon the heart and the circulation of the blood, also work upon the seven chakras of the human astral body in a harmonizing way.

Discoveries such as this one concerning these seven stars in Leo are possible on the modern path of the Magi, which takes its point of departure from star-gazing. What is the essence of this path? All one has to do is to gaze at a star and receive that which is streaming from that star. As Rudolf Steiner said in a lecture held on June 8, 1924: "The stars are the expression of love in the cosmic ether... To see a star means to feel a caress that has been prompted by love... To gaze at the stars is to become aware of the love proceeding from divine spiritual beings..." In gazing at the star, one connects on a heart level with the love streaming from that star, and - inwardly addressing the star - one can hold the question: What is your gift? What is your blessing for humanity?

By "blessing" is meant an actual transmission of star energy, a divine-cosmic stellar radiance that one can receive into oneself. After a few minutes of lovingly focusing upon a star, one can begin to experience the star's blessing, which is an expression of its divine purpose. A further question that one can hold in addressing the star is: Which chakra do you stream into most strongly?

In the case of gazing at the planets, the relationship between the chakras and the planets is fairly tangible: Saturn-crown, Jupiter-brow, Mars-throat, Sun-heart, Mercury-solar plexus, Venus-sacral, Moon-root [click here]. With the fixed stars it takes a more subtle level of inner experience to perceive the relationship of the chakras to a particular fixed star - for example, as indicated above for the seven main visible stars of Leo in relation to the seven chakras. In addition to these seven prominent stars in Leo, another example of a complete and balanced star system is the Big Dipper, whose seven stars also work upon the seven chakras [click here].

The Big Dipper, part of the Great Bear, extends above the zodiacal constellations Cancer and Leo. When we look at Cancer, we see the beautiful star cluster called Praesepe, the Bee Hive, so called because (with binoculars) it has the appearance of hundreds of bees [click here]. The star cluster Praesepe is close to the center of this constellation, at 12½ degrees Cancer. Just as the Pleiades star cluster was seen in ancient times as the most powerful location of the Moon in the whole zodiac, so the most powerful location of Jupiter in the zodiac was seen to be the star cluster Praesepe. This location is known as the exaltation of Jupiter, just as the Pleiades is the exaltation of the Moon [click here]. In fact, each of the planets has its place of exaltation, generally marked by a star or star cluster in the zodiac. The places of exaltation can also be chosen as the focus of attention in a star meditation. To acknowledge the significance of the planetary exaltations, one of the most ancient astrological teachings, is to acknowledge the sidereal zodiac. For example, if the Moon's exaltation is held to be 5 degrees Taurus in the tropical (rather than in the sidereal) zodiac, this places the exaltation at about 10 degrees Aries in the sidereal zodiac at the present time, far removed from the Pleiades and thus eradicating the original meaning attached by the Babylonians to the Moon's exaltation, which is precisely the fact of the Moon being in conjunction with the Pleiades. (The same applies, of course, to the exaltations of the other planets.)

To the left of Cancer and Leo we see the constellation of Virgo. In Virgo the brightest star is Spica, located at 29 degrees Virgo. Before considering the quality of Spica that is revealed to modern star-gazing, there is something very important and significant to consider about this constellation. When looking at this constellation, we can consider the way in which modern astronomy depicts Virgo. The Virgin is seen in modern astronomy as supine (lying down) and stretching across a very large area of space.

The head is in this region here, with the legs extending all the way here [click here]. This particular image was introduced by Ptolemy in the second century AD. However, previous depictions of Virgo - for example, those of the Egyptians - reveal her as a standing figure. So there is quite a different between the image with which modern astronomy depicts Virgo and the way the Egyptians and Babylonians depicted this constellation. Everything has a symbolic significance and the symbolism we see here is what we can describe as the dethroning of the Virgin that happened at the time of the flourishing of the Roman empire - in particular, through Ptolemy in the second century AD. This dethroning is a reality that has continued to unfold in modern times. It is the impulse to devaluate the Feminine, to drag the Feminine down.

In earlier times the constellation of Virgo was seen by the ancient Greeks as Demeter, the Earth Mother, symbolized by the sheath of wheat she holds in her right hand (left from the viewer's perspective). The tip of the sheath of wheat is marked by the star Spica and thus Spica is called the Ear of Wheat. For the Greeks the image of the ripe harvest, with the golden sheaths of wheat in the fields gently flowing in the wind, was that of the golden hair of Demeter wafting in the breeze. With the devaluation of the Feminine it has come about more and more that the Earth is no longer regarded as a living being, but as something inanimate - and thus to be plundered. By the same token womanhood has also became devalued. We see this, for example, in Hollywood movies. In earlier times, however, the Virgin was seen in relation to the quality that many women were known for in antiquity, as wise women, sibyls, and priestesses. Long ago wise women, sibyls, and women priests were greatly honored. It was this quality in particular that was connected with Virgo, and Spica - as the brightest star in Virgo - was seen as the star par excellence of feminine wisdom: "When Spica is so found for female births it makes priestesses of the goddesses Demeter, Persephone or Isis, or experts in hierophantic matters, mysteries, or sacrifices..."1. For modern star-gazers, Spica is found to be a star of extraordinary purity and wisdom. Gazing up at Spica and connecting on a heart level with this star enables a powerful in-streaming of Sophianic wisdom and purity. Once a heart connection with a star is established, one can always call inwardly upon the radiant blessing of that star just by holding the star in consciousness.

Astrogeographia, which is the study of the stars in relation to the earth on the basis of knowledge of the one-to-one correspondence between every point on the globe and a unique star in the heavens, opens up the possibility of coming to an understanding of the spiritual influences emanating from a star by way of studying the nature and culture prevailing at the terrestrial location corresponding to that particular star. The foundation of Astrogeographia is something that Rudolf Steiner mentions briefly in his Astronomy Course: "We are led to the center of the Earth as the polar opposite [of the sphere of the starry heavens] ... The counterpart to this star is here, the counterpart to that star is there, and so on. We arrive at a complete counter image in the Earth itself to that which is outside [in the sphere of the starry heavens] ... In other words, we can conceive of the active heavenly sphere mirrored in the Earth. We can think of the Earth's mineral realm as a result of this mirroring ... "2

Without elaborating on it any further, he says - essentially - that a particular place on earth corresponds to a particular star, and another place corresponds to another star. It was not until the year 2006, while preparing for the Sophia Foundation pilgrimage to Egypt, that I was able to solve the riddle of the one-to-one correspondence between the celestial sphere and terrestrial globe.

The great pyramid was the starting point for my research concerning Astrogeographia. The great pyramid corresponds to the star Alnitak, which is the left, lower star of the three stars in the belt of Orion. (My gratitude to the authors of The Orion Mystery, Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert, who provided this key to what I believe to be the solution to the problem of the one-to-one correspondence between the starry sphere and the earthly globe.)

From this correspondence I was able to find out that various mystery centers were aligned with certain stars. For example, the great mystery center of Artemis of Ephesus was founded more than twelve hundred years before Christ by a tribe of women called the Amazons. The Amazons called their goddess Oupis, rather than Artemis. The name Artemis derives from the Greeks, who came in the year 1087 BC and colonized Ephesus, drove the Amazons away, and then took over the temple there and subsequently rebuilt it. The Greeks introduced the name Artemis for the goddess of this temple, because for them the goddess Oupis who was worshiped by the Amazons was - according to their experience of her - most like their Greek goddess Artemis. Thus it came about that they called what was originally the temple of Oupis the temple of Artemis. However, the Greek goddess Artemis - virginal goddess of the hunt, symbolized by the deer - does not really correspond very much to Artemis of Ephesus. For Artemis of Ephesus is more an aspect of the Mother goddess, like Demeter.

Coming back to the discoveries of the research of Astrogeographia, this great temple at Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, corresponds to the star Bellatrix, which marks the left shoulder of Orion. Interestingly, Bellatrix is called the Amazon star, which is an extraordinary parallel in relation to the tribe of Amazon women who founded the great temple at Ephesus. This is a confirmation of the fundamental research finding of Astrogeographia that there are correspondences between the ancient mystery centers and certain prominent stars.

As referred to on the home page of this website, another finding of Astrogeographia is that the city of Vienna corresponds to the star Aldebaran, which is one of the four royal stars of ancient Persia. This prominent star is the central star in the constellation of Taurus, at 15 degrees of Taurus, and it is evidently a musical star. For the cosmic influence that is present at this location of Vienna, linked to the star Aldebaran, has given birth to a highly musical culture. To grasp this we need only recall that Vienna was the city of the birth of classical music (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven) and also of the waltz (Johann Strauss senior, Johann Strauss junior). It is perhaps still one of the most cultured cities on the planet with an extensive and ongoing high quality cultural offering (and correspondingly very little crime). From the cultural life of Vienna it is possible to gain insight into the nature of the influence of the star Aldebaran in Taurus. Similarly, the impulse of the Divine Feminine that flourished at Ephesus indicates the nature of the influence of the star Bellatrix in the left shoulder of Orion, an influence promoting the mysteries of the Divine Feminine such as those celebrated in the temple of Artemis of Ephesus. Lastly, from the Egyptian mysteries celebrated at the great pyramid at Giza it is possible to grasp something of the nature of the influence of the star Alnitak. Alnitak clearly emanates an influence promoting the celebration of the mysteries of death and resurrection such as those of the initiation rites performed in the hidden recesses of the great pyramid.

From the foregoing examples the potential of Astrogeographia to illumine the connections between the stars and humanity and the earth is indicated. Astrogeographia can thus play a role in the emergence of a new star wisdom, just as the modern path of the Magi - founded on star-gazing - can also lead to a profound deepening of humankind's relationship to the stars.

1 Anonymous of 379, Treatise on the Bright Fixed Stars (Berkeley Springs/WV: Golden Hind Press, 1993), p. 5.

2 Rudolf Steiner, Das Verhältnis der verschiedenen naturwissenschatlichen Gebiete zur Astronomie ["The Astronomy Course"], Rudolf Steiner Verlag: Dornach/Switzerland, 1997, lecture of January 10, 1921 (quote translated from the German by RP).

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