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AP - Who was the first female astrologer ?

 
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Deb
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
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Location: England

Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2003 1:05 pm    Post subject: AP - Who was the first female astrologer ? Reply with quote

17 Mar 2003

Deb:

Does anyone know who would have been the first female astrologer?

I'm interested in anything on the early female astrologers, since so little seems to have been written about them.

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Sue:

It's an interesting question and one I have been looking at for some time. I haven't found any answers yet. Most of the astrological history books don't mention women. I like to think of Hypatia as being one of the first but I could be biased because I am a little bit of a fan of hers. She was considered to be a mathematician and an astronomer by historians but I have seen stuff that suggests she was an astrologer. I do know that she worked with her father Theon on commentaries of some of the works around at the time such as Ptolemy's Algamest and some of his other works. She was reported to be interested in some of the mathematical relationships of planets, stars etc designing an astrolabe that measured their movement. None of this makes her an astrologer but it is possible she at least was interested. She was murdered by being pulled apart limb by limb (literally) for her efforts. She was murdered by Christians who killed her because she was considered to be involved in such things as magic and astrology. The Council of Laodicea in the 4th century outlawed divination of any kind and forbade the practice of mathematics by priests. Many historians suggest that she was unfairly lumped in with all the 'charletans' of the time and wasn't really an astrologer but a genuine astronomer (whatever that means).
If I come up with anything in my searching I will let you know.

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Deb:

I must admit I’d never heard of her but after reading your post I ran her name through google and came across some very interesting commentaries on her life. From what I’ve seen so far I think she definitely deserves wider acknowledgement. Most sources seem to view her as the first woman to make a substantial contribution to the development of mathematics, and seem pretty clear that she was dedicated to the sciences of astronomy and astrology. Her death sounds brutal and terribly tragic. I like one of the quotes attributed to her “Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.”

I hope that astrological histories make more of this woman in future. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention before, but I feel very moved to learn about her life now.

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Sue:

I'm pleased that you appreciate her story. I think she was quite remarkable. Maybe if you can find the time and the space sometime you can write an article about her for the website. It's those sorts of things that ensure she gets wider exposure and recognition for her valuable contribution. And somewhere between Hypatia and Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson there must be many other women astrologers who have gone unrecognised.

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Deb:

I was going to suggest something similar to you (!) I agree it needs doing though. Surely there must be some work, book or article written about the important women in the history of astrology. I don't know enough about it - hence my original query. If it really is such an empty area of research, maybe we should start a little research project here. I'd be happy to collate it into a reference piece on the site under the collective authorship of anyone who contributes suggestions for entry. At the moment I'd be hard pressed to name any illustrious female astrologer that lived between Hypatia and Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson!
Do you or anybody else know, for example, who was the first female astrologer to have a book published?

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Sue:

Of course we are forgetting Alice Bailey and Evangeline Adams (whose main claim to fame was probably predicting the burning down of the place she was staying). They were all around at a similar time except that Ivy had a much longer life than the other two (97 years). She was born in my birthplace of Brisbane, Australia. They breed 'em tough here.

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Sue:

Quote:
Do you or anybody else know, for example, who was the first female astrologer to have a book published?


I don't know if she was the first but Sarah Jinner wrote a series of yearly almanacs in England in the mid 1600's. There was also Dorothy Partridge towards the end of the 1600's. I tried to do a search of Sarah in particular and found very little. In fact, only two places mention her in astrological terms. One is a German website and I haven't tried to read German since high school. It has a reproduction of what appears to be the front cover of one of the almanacs. Maybe you will have better luck.

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Deb:

Hi, Sarah Jinner - that rings a bell. This could be the female astrologer that I vaguely remember Derek Parker did some research on, but I can't find anything located on the web in the quick search I did this morning. I'm off an holiday today so I'll have limited time to check in and see what's happening in the next 2 weeks.
Catch up with you when I get back,

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Sue:

I'm pretty sure that Sarah Jinner is the woman you are thinking of in relation to Derek Parker. Didn't he write something called 'The History of Astrological Almanacks' or something like that? I haven't read it or even seen it but I would imagine Sarah is included in that.

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Tom:

Hello Ladies,

Regarding Evangeline Adams, she is best known, perhaps, for her prediction of the Windsor Hotel Fire, but she may not have made that prediction at all. Karen Christino wrote a wonderful biography of Adams (Foreseeing the Future; One Reed Publications)and in it Christino states that despite Adams' claim that New York City newspapers documented her prediction, Christino couldn't find any reference to the prediction in any of the archives although the fire itself was big news.

However, more impressively Adams did predict American involvement World War II. She said the US would be involved in a major war in 1942. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941: that's close enough for me. This statement was in fact documented, but Adams never lived to see her prophecy fulfilled. She died in 1932! The prediction was made, I think in 1923. She had a few particulars wrong. She said the US would start the war, but Germany did in 1939, but her date for US invovlement is eerie in its accuracy.

Now since we're on the subject of women astrologers, sung and unsung, I'd like to ask about one. Robert Zoller, in a paper titled "Astrology in the United States of America Prior to 1870 (available from www.new-library.com/zoller)" writes: "Jim Baker, Vice President of the Plymouth Plantation Museum informed me that in the 17th century there was a woman in the Connecticut colony who had been trained by the English astrologer, William Lilly, in what is now termed Classical Astrology, i.e., predictive, non-psychological 17th century English astrology."

Does anyone have any idea who this woman was? I'm sorry, but I don't even have a name or location other than "Connecticut colony."

It would be interesting to do some research on her, but the place to begin appears to be England. Keep in mind it would be late 17th century that this woman practiced. Connecticut was first settled by the English in 1634. Several "colonies" were established which ultimately become the major cities of COnnecticut when they merged under an English charter in 1665. A logical guess would be this woman came to the US after 1665, which was I believe about the time that Lilly gave up astrology.

Anyone have any information or ideas?

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Sue:

That's interesting. I haven't come across a woman from Connecticut but I will keep it in mind. Unfortunately there is very little information on women astrologers from that time (or any other time). I have been looking into this on and off for a few years now with little success. Even with a name it is difficult to find information. Sarah Jinner is a good example. Even though she produced an almanac for many years, there is almost no information on her.
I think you are right about beginning the investigation of this Connecticut woman in England but I have only come across one other name for that time period. I will keep looking but at the moment I am limited to doing the research through the internet. The net is a great tool but it is only as good as the information that people post on it. I don't know whether anyone has done any significant research on the history of women astrologers let alone posted it on the net. Obviously there have been many male astrologers who haven't had the recognition they deserve but I find it frustrating that women have been virtually ignored. I would really like to know their stories.

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Kim:

This is pretty much off the top of my head so do excuse me if I go all over the place.

Hypatia was the one who was scraped to death by wild monks with oyster shells. It’s beyond me as to why. She was HUGE in the late 18th into 19th centuries, used in poetry, art etc. Very easy to find information about her so no need to go on here.

What about Aganice (c. 1878 BCE) and Aglaonike (c. 200 BCE). Both early women astronomers/astrologers.

Or En Hedu'anna priestess of the Moon Goddess (circa 2354 BCE). She is the first female name recorded in technical history. She was the daughter of Sargon (of Akkad) who established the Sargonian Dynasty in Babylon and was appointed the chief priestess of the moon goddess of the city. No technical works exist but there is a translation of 48 of her poems.

Queen Hatshepsut [b. 1502 ? BCE] of Egypt sometimes included astrology in her work.
In the tenth century you have Trotula, or Dam Trot in Salerno Italy, who headed the school of medicine there. Mainly known as a herbalist.

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a German nun who wrote music, science material and books on herbal medicine. She was born in the Rhine Valley and claimed to have seen visions and heard messages as a child. She wrote herbals and medical texts as well as treatises on cosmology.

Sarah Jinner is cited in a footnote in Howe’s Urania’s children and was the author of An almanack or prognostication for the year to be found at the British Library. Though I haven’t as yet looked at it. Dorothy Partridge was a midwife astrologer. Their works have been republished and are available on Amazon under the title “Almanacs: Printed Writings 1641-1700: Series II, Part One, Volume 6 (The Early Modern Englishwoman: a Facsimile Library of Essential Works, Series II)”

There is quite a smattering of nineteenth century women astrologers. My favourite being the totally loopy Olivia Serres. She was a friend of Raphael 1 and wrote numerous twee astrological articles for him. I HAVE read these – it’s not something I’d like to make a habit of. I wrote an account of her which can be seen at http://www.urania.info/story/2002/4/25/65054/1326

(After I claimed her to be the only astrological princess Lorenzo Smerillo came up with Maria Mancini, born in Rome 2 August 1639. As well as writing her autobiography in 1670 and 1671 she published two astrological almanacs. And she was a real princess.)

If we move away from England we have Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand born on 27 May 1772 in Alecon (France). Although she was mainly known as a superwhizz tarot reader, Raphael admired her astrological skills. So much so that he pinched her name and calling himself Victorine Le Normand wrote a book, which is somewhere on my shelves…

But let us not forget Mrs Beeton who published almanacs as well as recipes in the 1860’s.

In the latter years of the nineteenth century and going into the twentieth we have Eleanor Kirk, Ellen Bennett, Isabel Pagan, Catharine Thompson…These are the ones I remember off the top of my head.

There is actually plenty of information available. But you need to search under early women scientists, herbalists etc. Up until the seventeenth century any educated person, incuding women would be assumedto have astrological knowledge. And many of them would put astrological references in their work.

Enough for now, that should whet some appetites. Be thankful I didn’t try to go into depth

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Sue:

Thanks for all the info. It's interesting you should mention Hildegard. I was just contemplating today where she fits into all of this. I was reading one of her biographies on a flight back from an astrology conference this afternoon. I have always been interested in her but am not sure whether she can fit into the astrology aspect. I would love to be able to add her to my list though. I have been compiling a card file for a couple of years now. I have most of the women you mentioned but didn't have Olivia Serres. I tried to use the link but it didn't seem to work. I would love to hear about her. I also didn't have Maria Mancini or Marie Anne Adelaid Lenormand.
I have heard of the publication of the Almanac Writings from Sarah Jinner and Dorothy Partridge but apparently they are not quite available yet. I have my name down for a copy even if it is $150 Australian. Sarah was very briefly mentioned in Antonia Fraser's "The Weaker Vessel" about women in 17th century England.
I would also like to hear about some other women such as Theno, wife of Pythagoras, who was supposedly a good scientist in her own right. There is also Elsbeth Ebertin (1880), mother of Reinhold and Elizabeth Aldrich (1878) just to mention a couple. I quite like Elizabeth Aldrich who not only was a good astrologer but was also a suffragette and spent a lot of time campaigning for votes for women.
As you say, there are plenty around but I am still having trouble finding enough information to really do them justice.

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Lynda:

I really enjoyed the article about Hypatia, she sounds like she was a very influential woman. The note about her overshadowing her father and the lesson that this was said to contain to others would have been quite amusing if it was not so sad.

The article has really made me think about what was said about " Christianity, as the religion of meekness and obedience, had an irresistible attraction for Constantine. A monotheistic religion such as Christianity was ideal for instilling the belief that, as in Heaven, there should be a supreme ruler on Earth. When Christianity gained the upper hand in Alexandria, it set about destroying paganism and all it stood for”

I had always thought of Rome as being ruled by a succession of supreme rulers, many of who declared that they were gods themselves. Yet, when I think of it - there had long been many wanting to make Rome a republic weren’t there? It’s interesting too that previously the Roman Empire had adapted and stolen so much from other cultures, including gods/religions.

Thanks for the article!

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Sue:

Of course it is not confined to the Roman Empire either. There are some fascinating discussions about the adoption of pagan beliefs and ceremonies by the Christian religion. One that springs to mind is James Frazer and his correlation of Mithras (Persian god of light) to Jesus. He spells out quite clearly how the Christian religion adopted 25th December as the birthday of Jesus. It had been celebrated as the birth of Mithras (the unconquered Sun as they called him) for some time and wasn’t adopted by the Christians officially until around 379CE. In the Julian calendar December 25th was considered to be the point of the winter solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere anyway ) By the 1580’s most Catholic countries had adopted the Gregorian calendar. This didn’t happen in Britain (and its colonies) until 1752. However, December 25th remains as the celebration of Christ’s birth. There is a similar theme to be seen with Easter as Deb points out in her Heavenly Imprints article.

And it is definitely a good thing to always question and explore.

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Graelhaven:

Hypatia was the first female to be the head librarian at alexandria and was murdered shortly before the libraies were destroyed by a large band of unwashed christian lunatics. the stories I've read have her being stoned to death. she was also, like Ben Franklin considered to be quite and inventor. With the misogeny of western culture you would no doubt have diffuculty in finding much about female astrologers until probably the 19th or 20th century. You might however look at eastern possibilities?

the second thing I would like to point out, is that astrology goes so far into our past that it would be difficult to my way of thinking to have any idea what the gener of early astrologers were. HOWEVER, considering that pre-hellenist cultures were more often matriarchal, and had many centers of higher learning with females priestess, that in fact early astronomy/astrology was probably quite deeply a female matter of study, hence the babylonian Inana and her ilk...

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Ekati:

Women mathematicians of ancient and classical Hellas:

Polygnoti (7th to 6th century B.C.)
The historian Lovon the Argeian, mention POlygnoti as companion and student of Thales the Milisian. She was considered very good in geometry and Vitruvius mentions that she is believed to be the first who introduced "acrophonia", using initial letters f names of numbers, to describe those numbers (i.e. = - Deka, ten, X= - Hilia, thousand etc). She was the first to state and prove the theorem that "in a circle, the angle of the semicircle is a right angle"

Themistoklea (6th century B.C.)
Priestess in Delphi Temple, she was the teacher of Pythagoras about the principles of numbers and geomery. Historian Diogenes Laertios mentions her as Aristoklea or Theoklea. According to philosopher Aristoxenos, she taugh mathematics to the visitors of Delhpi that had some inclination to mathematics and she was very highly esteemed by Pythagoras, who because of her, later on when he founded his School, he accepted women among his students. A myth also mentions that she had decorated the altar of Apollo with geometrical patterns.

Theano (6th century B.C.)
From Crotona place, daughter of the doctor Vrontinos and wife of Pythagoras. She taught in the pythagoreian schools of Samos and of Crotona. Her work is shaping the theory of numbers that played the greatest role in pythagorean teachings. Other cosmological theories are also attributed to her. After the death of her husband, she became the head of the -scattered, by those times- pythagorean community. With the help of her daughteres Damo or Myia and Arignote, she taught her philosophy and pythagorian systems in Hellas and in Egypt. She also wrote a bibliogaphy of Pythagoras works, that has been lost. Also had two sons from Pythagoras, Tilauges and Mnisarchos. Iamblihos mentions her as an educated mathematician, worthy to be remembered.

Damo (6th century B.C.)
Daugher of Pythagoras and Theano, she taught at the pythagorean School at Crotona. After the loss of the School, she was trusted with the written works of her father with the obligation never to let them fall in the hands of the non-initiated. Later on she published only the geometrical teachings with the help of Philolaos and Thymaridas with the title "The of Pythagoras History", an advanced geometrical work, according to Iamvlichos. According to Geminos the Rhodean, the discovery of regular tetraedron and cube propertie is hers. She is also attributed with the theorem "of all shapes the best is the sphere among the solids, and the circle among the flats". She married in Athens a pythagoreadn student and had a daughter, Vitali.

Arignote - (6th century B.C.)
Philosopher, writer, mathematician, from Samos, mentioned by Porphyry as daughter of Pythagoras -also mention in Suida lexicon. She wrote many philosophical works and a mathematical work titled On Numbers, which is lost. Returned to Samos, after the loss of the School at Crotona.

Myia (6th century B.C.)
Mentioned as daughter of Pythagoras and Theano, wife to Milon the Crotonead. She taught at the School at Crotona and is attributed with the invention of geometrical proportional "middles"

Deino (6th century B.C.)
Wife of Vrontinos, mother of Theano and mother-in-law of Pythagoras. She studied "ellipeis" numbers. Ellipeis are the numbers that their divisors if added, give a sum that is smaller than the number (i.e. number 8, divisors 1, 2 and 4, 1+2+4=7<8 )

Eloris the Samean (6th century B.C.)
Student of Pythagoras, expert in geometry.

Fintys (6th century B.C.)
Also mention as Filtys. Student of Pythagoras, daughter of Theofres of Crotona and sister of Vyndakos, taught in Crotona School. She is attributed with the theory of equality that connects pythagorean triads, as mentioned by roman Voithios.

Melissa (6th century B.C.)
Student of Pythagoras, worked with regular polygonic solids. Lavon the Argeian mentions a lost work of hers.

Tymicha (6th century B.C.)
Wife of Myllios of Crotona, she came from Sparta bu born in Crotona. Early member of pythagorean School, wrote about "friend numbers" as Iamvlicus mentions. After the loss of the School, she went to Syracuses, were the tyran of Syracuses, Dionisios, demanded of her to reveal to him the secret pythagorean teachings -also offerd her a great amount of money. She refused, cut her tongue with her teeth and spat it on Dionisios face -this is mentioned by Ippovotos and Neanthes.

Ptolemais (6th century B.C.)
Pythagorean philosopher, musician and mathematician, mentioned by Porphyry, she is attributed with the theorem a * b = b * a.

Diotima (6th - 5th century B.C.)
Priestess from Mantineia, Socrates mentions her with great respect as his teacher and also Xenophon mentions her expert geometrical knowledge.

Vitali (6th - 5th century B.C.)
Daughter of Damos and grand daughter of Pythagoras, she was trusted with the works of her father, when Damo died.

Periktioni (5th century B.C.)
Pythagorean, philosopher, mathematician. Some identify her with Periktioni the mother of Plato, daugher of Kritios and attribute to her being the first teacher of Plato. Plato on the other hand never mentions his mother and is believed that he was upset with her for remarrying after the death of his father, Ariston. Maybe this accounts for the not very favourable stance of Plato against women. Stobaios mentions Periktioni as expert in geometry and maths.

Lastheneia (4th century B.C.)

From Arcadia, came to Athens, to Plato's Academy to study philosophy and maths. After Plato's death she continued studying with his nephew Speusippos, and later on she became a philosopher and companion of Speusippos. According to Aristophanes the Peripatitikos (Peripatitikoi were a philosophical school) Lastheneia gave the next definition of sphere: Sphere is the solid shape, inside which, there is one point that all straight lines that pass from it to the surface, are all equal.

Axiothea (4th century B.C.)
Student in Plato's Academy, came to Athens from the Peloponnesian city Fliunta. Interested in natural philosophy and maths, she later on taught in Athens and Corinthos.

Nikareti (4th century B.C.)
Teacher of geometry, Nikareti the Corinthean is mention by Stobaios.

Areti (4th - 3rd century B.C.)
Areti the Kyreneian, is the daughter of Aristippos, founder of the Kyrenaic philosophical Sschool. Also mentioned as Ariti, she studied in Plato's Academy and taught maths, natural philosophy and ethics for many years. She wrote over 40 books on many subjects. After the death of her father she was elected to ran his School. Among her students over 100 philosophers of the time are mentioned. Her son, Aristippos the younger, was an important figure of Kyrenaic philosophy. Athenaios (a writer of 3rd-2nd century) mentions her teaching ways.

Pythais (2th century B.C.)
Daughter of mathematician Zenodoros, she and her father worked with shape surfaces. Eutokios mentions her and also Theon the Alexandreus (4th century AD) mentions her in his "comments on Ptolemy's mathematical syntaxis".

Pandrosion (4th century A.D.)
Also mentioned as Pandrosos. From Alexandria, she was interested in geometry, and is probably a student of Pappus, who dedicates one of his books to her.

Ypatia (4th century A.D.)
One of the brightest philosophers of the time, Ypatia is highly esteemed of her courage. She taught philosophy in an dangerous age were the christian barbars were rising. She outraged the christian community of Alexandria, that viewed women as inferior and that they should get out of the house if not accompanied by fathers, brothers or husbands. Ypatia walked a lot, and moreover talked a lot, having her own School where she taught advanced philosophy, maths, geometry and astrology. She was brutally murdered, cut into pieces and all her works were burned. A few months after her death, there was an edict that all priests and philosophers of northern Africa be burned alive...

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Graelhaven:

thanks for this interesting list of women, where does the information come from?

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Ekati:

This list was recently published in a hellenic magazine of an organization about ancient and classical greece, called "Elliniki Agogi". Sorry for the translation mistakes, I cannot speek english very well.

This list is very small concerning the women of classical greece. Many others are also mentioned, in medicine, philosophy (epikurean, cynics etc) and astrology. Plutarch also mentions many women priests.

So many women..."shocking" isn't it? ))))))))

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Graelhaven:

Well I think the shocking thing is that we (general population that is interested in such things)dont GENERALLY know them. That they are hidden in obscurity... thank you for the list!

Also, English is alleged to be my native language, your English appears to be better than mine, so no appologising for not being a native speaker, please! =) (humor)

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Ekati:

Don't worry, in fact you (generally speaking) know much much more about such matters than the contemporary greeks, who have shown no interest at all... [which reminds me the words of a friend, that the hellenic spirit lives outside of greece nowadays, ]

I think that the rediscovery of classical astrological techniques and the clarifying of main astrological meanings (like houses, zodia, etc) is a great step towards the rediscovery of Astrology as a philosophical system of antiquity and towards the reestimation of Astrology as a respected science.

I feel proud when I see works like Deborah Houlding's or Anne Wright's or R. Schmidt's, they are remarkable.

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Graelhaven:

well Athens is on my sun... meaning Athens physical location is 23degrees of aries... Athena has always been a favorite of mine and I've often wondered what occured that the gods of the persian greeks overcame Athens and overturned the matriarchal society? where Athena once ruled the persian greek deities of Apollo and Poseiden took over... one friend of mine suggests it was the violent volcanic eruption that occured about what? 3500 years ago? dont know, but know that Athens, a once matriarchal society became a woman hating society to the point that women lost the right to vote, were not allowed LEGAL NAMES, etc... down to it being acceptable to commit matricide, but not patricide??? hello? Then to keep Athena from complete submersion into the mysts,(probably pretty expensive to change the parthenon after having put so much money and effort into it) they even change her birth story to make it so that she has no mother but springs forth from the head of jupiter? (attempt to make her less female, ergo more acceptable? and to trivialize the importance of maternity?) um... hmmmmm... well something happened in athens in the mists of time that was extremely traumatic.. apparently we (humans of western culture) haven't recovered as of yet... and then the western religions weigh entirely too heavily on Aristotle who was wrong about everything he's ever said as far as I can discern, so why accept his disgusting assertions that women are less than men? hmmmm well lets not get me started on this subject, might continue for centuries! But I do enjoy discussions of female contributions to human development, culturely and historically speaking.

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Ekati:

Er....actually no.
The hellenic gods and the persian gods is a very ver different thing. What has come to become the hellenic pantheon has always been developed in the hellenic geographical area. The most ancient references on the olympic gods come from Minoan culture in the island of Crete. This civilisation came to a sudden end, aroun 1250 b.c., some say because of a volcanic eruption, some say because of a war and speculate of a war between athenians and cretans - the latter is not true because there has never been any mention of such a conflict whatsoever in ancient hellenic literature. However, if the war version is accurate, then it must somehow be connected with Egypt and the Hyksos invasions.

Crete was a very liberal society and women enjoyed a well respected position there. Today some historians view this as a matriarchal society, but this is a contemporary view. To understand the ancient worlds, one has to learn to view it through ancient eyes. The Cretan society was not matriarchal, but differientated, meaning that each sex enjoyed its own differientated position in society, men assigned the natural roles of theirs and same for women. Also, the children of a woman (if any before marriage) were considered children of the man she married later - making Crete a very liberal society for women.

The non-voting of women is a popular myth circulating around. Truth about this is that not women, nor men had the right to vote. The right to vote was given to the House. Each Athenian family, was called "House", and regardless of member numbers, each House had ONE vote. This was done, to ensure that Houses with many family members didn't become politically stronger over Houses with few family members.

From each House, one male member became the representative that voted according to the House wish. It was a male member, because it had the property of Zeus priest at the time of voting (Zeus being connected with politics and governing). The member that voted, didn't vote as it wanted, but carried the will of the House and was subject to control from the other family members - meaning that he answerd back to the rest of family members, in the case that he had to vote over matters that emerged during the political gathering which had not been pre-discussed with the rest of House members. SO you see the voting was not a personal process but concerned the House.

There was not a misogyni in Athens, as many think. There was differientation of roles for both women and men, and each one was assigned with specific obligations. For example there was not allowed to be a female priest of god Ares, and there was not allowed to be a male priest for goddess Athena. In Olympic games, there were some that women were not allowed to participate, and there were some that men were not allowed to participate. The prize (a piece of daphne or some other plant) came from Heraion, the temple of goddess Hera, in which no man was allowed to enter - only women. There was also a very big celebration Thesmoforia, in Athens, that men were not only not allowed to participate but they were not allowed to even learn about those mysteries - only women had this right.

So as you can see, man and woman, in ancient Hellas had different roles according to their needs and special characteristics. Different does not mean inferior, as today many think. Women had access to advanced education, enjoyed a very important role in society and also political rights concerning their domestic life. There has never been any mention of women abuse in ancient Hellas, and there were very strict laws concerning "divorce" processes, favouring women. Also there were no laws concerning "adultery" for both women and men. The ancient hellenic society was very tolerant to many kinds of sexual behaviours - including homosexuals. There were very very strict laws however concerning pederasty (sexual abuse of children), child prostitution and rape (for men or women victims alike) - the sentence was death in all these cases.

Aristotle was not a misoginist, he only supported differientation, meaning that each sex should be treated according to their own unice different nature. That is understood if you read originals. The main difficulty in originals, besides ancient hellenic , is that many words had a totally different meaning in those times. For example the word that today means "creator" (dimiourgos), those times referred to the professional cast of technicians (dimos=municipality & ergon=work), those who did carpentry, shoe making, the tailors e.t.c. So many non native hellenic translators often give a very different meaning to the text, without paying any attention to the literal meanings of words.

Aristotle was a great philosopher and at his time, he fought and proved incorrect many not-so-good ideas and beliefs of not-very-capable philosophers, like Anaxagoras, who was not a philosopher but a mathematician in the first place and from his paranoic "philosophical" views much harm was done.

Another popular myth, is that women were only good for prostitution. This was not the case. When Ionian states fell under persian rulership, many hellenes moved to mainland Hellas, along with them many women of exceptional education and talents. Ionian states were cosmopolitan cultural centers of the time. Many women immigrants preferred to become Etairai, something that today is believed to be prostitution. But, the truth is again very different.

Etaira (and etairos) means companion, and originally it discribed the companion in battle. Many women instead of marrying preferred to live a much liberal life, taking any lover they wanted and being taken cared financially by their lover(s). Usually they enjoyed one lover at a time, but if they liked they had as many as they wanted. As I have said before, the ancient Hellenes had a very liberal attitude towards sexuality, and many women enjoyed this liberty in full.

The Etairai were sought for, and generally they were respected, because apart from being "priestesses of goddess Aphrodite", making them teachers of love and sexuality for men, they also had many other talents, like philosophy, art, music, and had a great influence on cultural and political matters of the state. The most famous Etaira, was Aspasia, companion of Pericles, the tyran of Athens (494 - 429).

Again "tyran" those days didn't have a negative or positive meaning, it merely discribed a political form of governing. During his tyranny, Athens became a great cultural center, and Pericles was so popular that Athenians kept re-electing him as a general. Aspasia was the main inspirator behind this, and to her, the building of Parthenon temple is attributed (also she was one of the "causes" of the Pelloponesian war - but this is another story).

Another very famous Aspasia, lived about a hundred years later. She was a doctor and wrote a four volumed study On Gynaegologics (women medical matters), a work that is nowadays lost. The reason that there is this popular myth about women inferiority is that almost all women scientific studies and books have been burned by christian barbars later on. The destruction of almost all women works was deliberate, for the christian barbars viewed women as something very inferior that should never be allowed to study or write or be free in any way.

Another very famous Etaira, was Leontion (little lion, or lion skin is the meanind of her name). She was the companion of cyrenaic philosopher Epikouros and she also run Epicuros's philosophical School, the Kipos (=Garden). She enjoyed a liberal erotic life, taking on as a lover, whoever studend she wished. At that time, the Epicureans were engaged in a philosophical
"battle" with another School, the Peripatitikoi (Walkers, they were named this way, because they used to teach while taking long walks, wandering in Athenian streets). Leontion wrote a pragmateia (a philosophical thesis) in which she vitiated ALL arguments and claims of the Peripatitikoi. Her work was of such strength that for years after the joke circulating in athenian society was that the Peripatitikoi met the Lion. Shortly after her work, the Peripatitikoi School went to a decline.

I hope this makes you feel better about women now.
I wish those stupid myths about women inferiority in ancient Hellas, to finally stop circulating around. Christian barbars have done a huge harm on women matters, and moreover nowadays this oppressing attitude has lead to the other excessive end. Those times there was not oppression, so the woman felt more balanced and happy with herself. Moreover women enjoyed the liberty of their sexuality - something that has not yet been accomplished in the so-called "civilised" modern western world.

-------------------------------

Ekati:

Now, about that gorgeous girl goddess Athena.

From the very beginning of ancient Hellenic mythology (Orfic tradition), Athena emerges from the head of Zeus. The myth of her birth is something like this:

One of the first wives of Zeus was goddess Metis (of thought and wisdom). When she got pregnant by Zeus, Gaia and Uranos told Zeus that after this child, another would be born -a son- that whould become greater than his father and would finally overrun Zeus.

So god Zeus decided to swallow Metis - thus becoming wiser and got the knowledge of right and wrong. After nine months, Zeus felt a terrible pain on his head. The pain became unbearable so Zeus asked Hephaestus (or Promitheus) to open his head with a strike. Out of it, goddess Athena emerges in full armour, shining and glorious. She smiled and put aside her weapons and Zeus heart thrilled with joy.

While Zeus is considered the god of Ruling, Reigning, politics and law, Athena is considered the goddess of wisdom. But not generally wisdom but wisdom in battles and fighting, meaning that Athena was the goddess of strategy and of the art of War, being called "the wise generator of wars". Apart from this war aspect, Athena is also favoured in times of peace. She strengthens the city, makes the arts and culture flourish and is "arogos" (helper) for people in times of difficulty. She is considered to have an excellent and cunning mind.

She is a close companion of Hermes, another god that assists civilisation and culture. Her "virginity" (not having childred - however Orpheus mentions the "unspoken nights of warfriendly -philopolemos- Athena", but nothing more on this) is an allegory meaning that wisdom is complete in itself and doesn't produce some other form concerning mind and wise thinking. Wisdom is whole and complete.

She is considered to have both male and female nature because wisdom is a capability of both men and women. Along with Zeus are the protector gods of state matters (remember mentioning earlier that the voter of the House, was considered of having the property of priest of Zeus?). Rulership and the rex needed also war readiness and strategical qualities in order to be fair and just and make their people happy.

Zeus is not the god of "kings" as it is nowadays believed. A king gets his rights out of birth in a dynasty - "kuna", generation. But a ruler gets his royal rights out of natural qualities, proving his capability in battle and reing and not demanding it because of birth. That is why there is a completerly different root between "king, kuna, queen" and "ruler, roy, erik, rex, royal".

This also has an astrological symbolism in it. Zeus is a significator of rulers but not of kings. He is perceived as the teacher of Royal Art, and just and strong rulers are titled "sons of Zeus". A ruler can only be just - if not, it isn't a ruler at all.

-----------------------------

Deb:

Ekati, I wanted to thank you for these wonderful posts which I've read with great interest.

----------------------------

Graelhaven:

I was refering to the Ionic portion of Greece which was under the control of Persia, just couldn't remember their name at the time I was writing which is why I said the Persian GREEK gods. the Ionic cities worshiped Apollo and Poseiden, then at some point along the way these deities were thrust upon Athens. let me see if I can find net info on this to pass along. I read it in an archeological journal at one point but I'm sure there is something about it online somewhere...

------------------------------

Ekati:

And I want to thank you Deborah, for your work on classical astrology.

About Ionian states, I think many citizens preferred persian rulership than the connection with mainland Helals, so it wasn't such a big tragedy for them.


Ekati:
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Posted: Wed Oct 22, 2003 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AP - This is an archived post, but may still be responded to.
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jac



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Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2006 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I want to thank you all for this brilliant, albeit sadly obscured history, and for making it known!
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skar mkhan



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Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom, maybe you have already found her as this is a nine years old post (I ended up here originally searching for Aphra Behn :) ) but if not, here is Katherine Harrison of Wethersfeld:
http://arts.monash.edu.au/publications/eras/edition-12-issue-2/articles/lconnell.pdf

Zerge

Quote:
Now since we're on the subject of women astrologers, sung and unsung, I'd like to ask about one. Robert Zoller, in a paper titled "Astrology in the United States of America Prior to 1870 (available from www.new-library.com/zoller)" writes: "Jim Baker, Vice President of the Plymouth Plantation Museum informed me that in the 17th century there was a woman in the Connecticut colony who had been trained by the English astrologer, William Lilly, in what is now termed Classical Astrology, i.e., predictive, non-psychological 17th century English astrology."

Does anyone have any idea who this woman was? I'm sorry, but I don't even have a name or location other than "Connecticut colony."

It would be interesting to do some research on her, but the place to begin appears to be England. Keep in mind it would be late 17th century that this woman practiced. Connecticut was first settled by the English in 1634. Several "colonies" were established which ultimately become the major cities of COnnecticut when they merged under an English charter in 1665. A logical guess would be this woman came to the US after 1665, which was I believe about the time that Lilly gave up astrology.

Anyone have any information or ideas?
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Tom
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Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you. No I had not found anything, and this paper describes the woman most probably referred to by Zoller. It is very informative (I haven't finished it yet and I won't until tonight).

I'm a bit disappointed in the author's understanding or lack of understanding of astrology and astrological magic, but I suppose that's to be expected when academics with little or no knowledge of the subject go into print.


Quote:
Vast horary charts were constructed that map the stars on dates for a clients whole life that were intended to explain the meaning behind significant life events.


Vast horary charts? What is a vast chart?

Thanks again.
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Tom
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Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting story. IT seems the woman who is the subject of this paper, Katherine Harrison, probably learned what astrology she knew from Christian Astrology. She was charged with witchcraft based on her rather obnoxious personality and attempts to heal sick people, but she was not a physician in the manner of say, Culpeper. Rather she dabbled in magic and apparently without much success.

She would barge into houses of the sick uninvited insisting on "treating" the ill family member, and if they died, she got the blame. She was lucky she wasn't executed. She was in fact sentenced to death, but later released and kicked out of Connecticut

The authors lack of understanding of astrology and Lilly's astrology in particular tends to muddy the waters a bit. There is also a glaring chronological error. The author states that Harrison was in Connecticut in 1651-53, and did not arrive there directly from England. It is also sated that Lilly's CA wasn't published until 1659. If that were true, then obviously she could not have read it in circa 1651. But we know CA was originally published in 1647 and she probably came into contact with that book in England at about that time. Still there is precious little astrology in this story, and it is doubtful she was ever taught by Lilly or if she was it couldn't be demonstrated with this paper.

What intrigued me is that all of this took place a little more than 30 years after the first English settlement in New England (1620). The population of Connecticut must have been tiny, yet they had an established court system and an organization I wouldn't have expected in a new colony that was all woods about one generation earlier.
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waybread



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Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 6:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In terms of the "earliest female astrologer," alas, she may not have been a serious scholar or respected practitioner; but rather, more like a fortune-teller at fairs and circuses in the Roman empire. She might also have been an amateur astrologer, using astrology for her own purposes rather than for hire.

Astrologers were periodically expelled from Rome, though on different grounds during the history of Roman astrology. Pauline Ripat ("Expelling Misconceptions: Astrologers at Rome," Classical Philology 106 (2011): 115-154) argues that the question "Who was an astrologer?" is indeed complex, as elite educated amateurs studied astrology; and it is hard to say what sort of astrology poorly educated "street astrologers" actually practiced.

The latter group were apparently common, and were typically the target of the expulsion edicts. Although Ripat doesn't specifically identify any female astrologers, the edicts tended to lump astrologers together with other sorts of diviners, such as one female "prophet" who was stirring up trouble (p. 139.) But precisely Ripat's point is that the occupational boundaries between who was an astrologer and who was something else were unclear and extremely fluid.

Bother powerful and lower-class women hired astrologers in Roman times, and appeared to have studied astrology as amateurs, if not practitioners.

"Juvenal, in his satire on women, accuses women of consulting astrologers about the deaths of their relatives. He is.... particularly scathing about women who fancy themselves as astrologers, who cannot do the smallest thing without consulting the books." (Tamsyn Barton, Ancient Astrology, p. 56.) [Juvenal lived in the late 1st century/early second century AD.]

However, if we are willing to admit goddesses as well as actual women, the founder of astrology might have been the Sumerian goddess Nidaba or Nisaba. She was a proto-type of Mercury, and perhaps of Virgo; credited with inventing writing as a means of keeping track of grain stores, as well as the keeper of lapis lazuli celestial tablets.
http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/section4/tr4161.htm
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Ben



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Posted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi All,

I just came across this while writing my introduction to my latest book, and came across this name of a female astrologer from the all-important early 9th Century Arabic period: Hadija Buran (807-84 AD), the daughter of the early Persian-Arabic astrologer al-Hasan bin Sahl, who was a vizier under Caliph al-Mamun. She is reported to have been the (or a?) wife of al-Mamun, and well-versed in different areas of the sciences, and enjoyed high esteem in astrology in particular. This is according to Sezgin vol. 7, pp. 122 and 135. So apparently, she was something like an astrologer-queen!

Ben
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Chris Brennan



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Posted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kenneth Johnson wrote an article on Buran titled "Buran of Baghdad: An Astrological Woman in the Early Middle Ages" in the NCGR Geocosmic Journal, Autumn 2006, pgs. 29-33.

He begins by saying "To the best of my knowledge, Buran is the first female astrological personality from classical times whose identity has become known to us."
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Ben



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Posted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Chris, for the citation, I'll look for it.

Ben
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Kenneth Johnson



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Posted: Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In reference to my article about Buran (807-884):

I called her "an astrological woman" rather than an "astrologer" because there is no evidence that she ever had a professional practice reading charts for clients. In fact she was a member of the Nawbakht family; it was Nawbakht the Persian (probably her grandfather) who led the team that developed the electional chart for the founding of Baghdad.

Her father Hasan ibn Sahl was the vizier to al-M'amun in the days before the latter became caliph, and it was Hasan who employed both Umar al-Tabari and Sahl ibn Bishr as court astrologers while al-M'amun was still a refugee from the Abbasid civil wars, hiding out in Khorasan (which was also the home of the young Abu Ma'shar). It is a strong historical probability that Umar, Sahl, young Abu Ma'shar, Buran, and the Hellenizing caliph al-M'amun were all in the same place at exactly the same time.

Buran's birth data has been preserved by the historian ibn Khallikan -- born in Baghdad on a Sunday evening, on the 2nd day of the month of Safar, in the 192nd year After Hegira (which works out to December 5, 807 CE, with much thanks to Carmen Miller for uncovering the ibn Khallikan data and helping me with the Islamic calendar). Her most probable Asc was Cancer, and she had a conjnction of Jupiter and the Moon in her 7th House; her marriage to al-M'amun seems to have been deliberately timed for her 18th year, when the profected 7th was ruling. (I am using whole sign houses for her chart, as she was no doubt acquainted with Masha'allah, Abu Ali, and the other "neo-Dorotheans" from the early Arabic period who were using whole-sign houses.)

Buran took an active part in politics. She is believed to have had a great deal to do with the creation of the "House of Wisdom" school that produced al-Kindi and Abu Ma'shar. Interestingly enough, she seems to have been named for a Queen Buran of Persia who officiated for some time at Jundishapur. One wonders what her father Hasan (of the Nawbakht clan) saw in her birth chart!

Since Buran accompanied her husband on his campaigns, it is without question that she was present when al-M'amun granted his famous edict of tolerance to the Sabaeans of Harran. He died in her arms a few months later, the victim of food poisoning.

The next caliph stripped her of all her lands and titles, but ibn Khallikan records an incident during which Buran "studied the astrolabe" and saw danger to the new caliph. She reported her findings. The would-be assassin was found with weapons at hand. Buran's lands and titles were restored to her. She lived alone as a wealthy widow until her death at the age of 77.

Because she was the wife of a caliph, all the Muslim historians mentioned her and her life is recorded in more precise detail than any other astrologer of her era, with the possible exception of Abu Ma'shar (Oh Ben, please give us Shadhan!) I am not aware of so much biographical detail regarding an astrological personage until one reaches the era of Bonatti, then Culpepper and Lilly.
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Deb
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Posted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for this post Kenneth.
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Kenneth Johnson



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Posted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for creating this topic in the first place, Deb. While astrology in contemporary times is strongly associated with women, you are quite correct in drawing attention to the scarcity of women in early astrology.

I wrote the article about Buran for several reasons:

1) She is the only astrological woman from "the olden days" that I have thus far discovered -- though I certainly hope we will eventually discover more of them.

2) Her birth data exists.

3) Biographical information re: early astrologers is all too uncommon. We have Shadhan's stories of Abu Ma'shar -- though some of these are so mystical and even surreal that one wonders if Burnett was correct in envisioning Abu Ma'shar as a kind of proto-Sufi with Harranite affiiations. We know the outlines of Bonatti's life and we know a great deal about Ficino. From Elizabethan times, Simon Forman has been well studied. But it is not until we reach the autobiographical passages from Culpepper and Lilly that I personally feel like I can come to KNOW these people. Not only was Buran an early astrological woman, she also appears in the writings of all the early Muslim historians because of her political importance. I do not pretend to have located all the sources, though I would like to explore more of them. There is a tremendous amount of detailed and even emotionally revealing information available about her life.

On this very "human" level, I forgot one detail. The caliphs who followed al-M'amun were mostly fundamentalists, and they moved the capitol from Baghdad to Samarra, where they were protected by their palace guards to the point where they almost became prisoners of their own protectors. Some years later, a young and assertive caliph whose name I have forgotten decided to take up al-M'amun's banner of studying Hellenistic philosophy. He wanted to re-establish the House of Wisdom. But by that time even the caliph didn't own any decent Baghdad real estate. He went to the palace in which Buran, now in her 70s, was living, and he told her of his dream to re-establish the House of Wisdom, and of his need for a new venue. It is said that Buran just smiled and told him she could move into one of her other houses within a couple of weeks, and he was welcome to use her palace to re-establish her husband's dream of a Hellenized Islam. This is the last historical notice that we have about her, but oh, what a fine ending to her story! There are probably more such details in other Muslim historians.

Deb, you have my deepest respect for your attempts to help in the work of restoring the history of our tradition. May we continue to learn!
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