skyscript.co.uk
   

home articles forum events
glossary horary quiz consultations links more

Read this before using the forum
Register
FAQ
Search
View memberlist
View/edit your user profile
Log in to check your private messages
Log in
Recent additions:
Can assassinations be prevented? by Elsbeth Ebertin
translated by Jenn Zahrt PhD
A Guide to Interpreting The Great American Eclipse
by Wade Caves
The Astrology of Depression
by Judith Hill
Understanding the mean conjunctions of the Jupiter-Saturn cycle
by Benjamin Dykes
Understanding the zodiac: and why there really ARE 12 signs of the zodiac, not 13
by Deborah Houlding

Skyscript Astrology Forum

Persian Astrology

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Forum Index -> Traditional (& Ancient) Techniques
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
SGFoxe



Joined: 13 Apr 2006
Posts: 283
Location: Chicago, IL

Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:16 pm    Post subject: Persian Astrology Reply with quote

Does anyone know anything about this?

Herodotus notes that Xerxes traveled with Magi astrologers circa 480 bc. This was post the Babylonian conquest mid 568(?) bc ... was there a Persian/Magian astrology before the Babylonian conquest?

Cyrus &c were Zoroasterians, which name means in Greek star worshipper; the Zarathrustri New Year is at the Vernal Equinox -- eg SOLAR not lunar as were the Babylonian and other Mediterrantean Year markers ...

that's what I know so far, I want to know more --

any info or suggestions much appreciated

sonja
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
gavin



Joined: 16 Jul 2008
Posts: 18
Location: london

Posted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't believe that there is anything amounting to a Persian astrology that has survived. However there is plenty of star-lore. The main source I'd recommend is the Greater Bundahisn. Chapter 2 contains a list of the Zodiac constellations plus the Persian lunar mansions. The planets and a basic mythic cosmology are found in chapter 5. Follow this link to an index: http://www.avesta.org/pahlavi/bundahis.html

This text is part of a site devoted to Zoroastrian religion. The main page is at http://www.avesta.org/avesta.html - the search faculty will get you to specific mentions about stars scattered throughout Zoroastrian literature. Sirius is a particular favorite.

There are also numerous but all rather elusive mentions of zodiac constellations and planetary symbolism in the great Persian heroic epic called the 'Shahnama' (the Book of Kings) - the Dick Davis translation is available in Penguin.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Martin Gansten
Moderator


Joined: 05 Jul 2008
Posts: 1289
Location: Malmö, Sweden

Posted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 8:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Persian Astrology Reply with quote

SGFoxe wrote:
Cyrus &c were Zoroasterians, which name means in Greek star worshipper


Actually, it doesn't. Astēr does mean 'star' in Greek, but zōro- in Zōroastrēs (the Greek version of the prophet's name) has nothing to do with worship. The name is a Greek adaptation of Avestan Zaraθuštra, the latter part of which means not 'star' but 'camel'. (There are several possibilities for the former part of the compound, e.g. 'old': 'having old camels'.)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Mark
Moderator


Joined: 30 Sep 2005
Posts: 5145
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Posted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I understand correctly the Greater Bundahisn contains some of the very oldest material on Persian cosmology which may in some parts even pre-date the Zorasteran Avesta literature. Although, the earliest version we have is 9th century and there are clearly signs of later influences in the text.

I found another electronic version of the Greater Bundahisn from the link provided:

http://www.avesta.org/mp/grb.htm

This more modern translation seems much better at bringing out the astrological content of interest. In particular Lunar Mansions ( Chapter2), stars and planets ( chapter 5).

I think its worth quoting section 5a in full ( omitting the horoscope displayed). I think its fascinating!

Quote:
CHAPTER V, A

As regards the horoscope of the World, that is, how it was disposed.
1. One says in the Scripture: “The Adversary entered the earth, in the month of Frawardin, day of Ohrmazd, at noon, when day and night were equal.

2. The house of Life was at the nineteenth degree of Cancer, the asterism Azara too was disposed in the star Sirius ; of the Planets, Jupiter was in it; Leo was the house of the Purse; Virgo was the house of the Brothers; Libra was the house of the Foundation, Saturn was disposed in it; Scorpio was the house of Progeny; Sagittarius was the house of Servants, the thief Dragon's Tail was disposed in it; Capricornus was the house of Partnership, Mars was disposed in it; Aquarius was the house of Death; Pisces was the house of Activity, Venus and Mercury were disposed in it; Aries was the Mid-Heaven, the Sun was disposed in it, in the asterism Patiywar; Taurus was the house of Auspiciousness, the Moon was disposed in it; Gemini was the house of Misfortune, the Dragon's Head was disposed in it. [61]

3. As these Planets entered the Firmament in this manner, they were engaged in contest with the Constellations: the dark Mihr and Moon with the Sun and Moon, Kings of the Luminaries, Jupiter with the Seven Bears, Chieftain of the North, Venus with Sataves, Chieftain of the South, Mars with Antares, Chieftain of the West, Mercury with Sirius, Chieftain of the East, and Saturn with the Lord of Mid- Heaven, the Chieftain of Chieftains.

4. In the same manner, of the Planets: Mercury Chieftain of the East, Mars Chieftain of the West, Venus Chieftain of the South, Jupiter Chieftain of the North, Saturn Chieftain of Chieftains, and the dark Mihr and Moon, Kings of the dark bodies, were disposed in the terrestrial Sky.

5. Gochihr stood in the middle of the sky, like a dragon, its Head in Gemini and Tail in Sagittarius, as there are always six constellations betwixt its Head and Tail; its motion is backward; every ten years, its tail returns there where is its head and its head returns there where is its tail.

[63] 6. The tailed Mush Parik was arrayed with wings; the Sun fettered her to his own ray, so that she could not perpetrate harm; when she will become free, she will do much injury to the world. till she is recaptured, having come eye to eye with the Sun.

7. And of these Planets, the dark Mihr and Mush Parik are bound by covenant, in the intermingled state, to the ray of the Sun, underneath the Sun, and the dark Moon to the ray of the Moon.

8. The remaining others are bound also to the ray of the Sun owing to slowness, and decrease of motion; they cannot keep more than that distance; for, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars, each one is bound, at a distance of one hundred and eighty degrees from the Sun, Mercury at a distance of one thousand, eight hundred, and sixty minutes, and Venus at a distance of two thousand, eight hundred, and thirty-one minutes from the Sun.

9. Each one of these Planets has found in the Firmament, in the twelve abodes of the Constellations, its enemy's abode, its exaltation and fall, a conjunction giving profit, joy, and affliction. And many other kinds of habitation of its own; as all the operations of Time have connection with the Constellations, as is visible to the eyesight, they destroy, lower the high and increase what is diminished; their motion too is not like that of the constellations; for there is a time when they are swift, there is another when they are slow, there is a time when they are retrograde, there is another when they are stationary; their being named 'apa-akhtar’ is owing to this that they are ‘not akhtar;' this light of theirs, visible from them, is also the Ohrmazdean Light, similar to the wicked who put on the dress of the soldier. There are benefits therefrom just as from the light in the eyes of the noxious creatures: one is this that they can do little harm, on account of putting on the light; and one is, this that men may see them and not be afraid of them; the illustration of these Planets is like darkness; for they are devs, producing decrepitude and injury. When they run in the Firmament, the Light becomes visible, twinkling in the Firmament. [65] 10. One says in the Scripture: “If a person were to see that deception his eyesight would vanish."]


Its interesting to compare the two translations as this one has far more explicitly astrological material ( 5a especially). This version seems to incorporate quite late astrological concepts of Mesopotanian origin. Exaltations (Mercury exalted in Pisces??) and first degree of Aries are referred to. Clearly, indicating a 12 sign equal zodiac. There also appear to be Indian influences through reference to the exaltation of the Dragon's Head and Tail. The horoscope represented would seem to be hellenistic in origin? Plus the description of the houses by sign in the world horoscope seem to follow the form used in hellenistic astrology. So this section does, at least in part, seem to represent newer astrological concepts grafted on to quite ancient material. It does look later than the rest of volume 5. Still, the dualism so characteristic of Persian Zorasteranism is there too on a grand cosmic scale.

Moving on to the subject of fixed stars explicitly it appears that there is considerable uncertainty about the true identity of the so called Royal stars of Persia. These are confidently trotted out as Regulus, Antares, Aldebaran and Fomalhaut by nearly every astrological text on fixed stars. However, the Persian source material is far more ambiguous than most astrologers appreciate or are willing to acknowledge:

http://members.optusnet.com.au/gtosiris/page11-22.html

Indeed, might we fairly describe the content of most books on the fixed stars, describing the four royal stars, as perpetuating an astrological myth?

The popular source of the error seems to go back to the 19th century book Star Names, Their lore and Meaning by Richard Hinckley Allen (1899) which has been used as a principal source by numerous astrologers including Vivian Robson. While the book was written in good faith and still makes very enjoyable reading many of the sources ( not just Persian) Allen relied upon have proved to be unreliable in the intervening period since the book was published. In this instance the problem seems to be Allen's reliance on the work of the French astronomer Flammarion in the identification of the royal stars. However, the Australian astronomer Garry. D. Thompson suggests the source of the the original identification of Aldebaran, Antares, Formalhaut, and Regulus as the Persian royal stars was by the 18th-century French astronomer and historian Jean Bailly.

In contradiction to the view perpetuated in nearly every astrological source on this topic it seems that the star Sirius may well have been one of the royal stars while several scholars suggest the constellation Ursa major represented another one.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
KyleP



Joined: 30 Nov 2007
Posts: 5
Location: Michigan

Posted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:26 am    Post subject: The nativity of Gayomart Reply with quote

The chart in question here can also be found in an article by David Pingree, entitled "Masha'allah: Some Sasanian and Syriac Sources." The article is found in Essays on Islamic Philosophy and Science, ed. G.F. Hourani, Albany, 1975, pp. 5-14.

This chart of exaltations, which I had been thinking of as a Persian variant of the Thema Mundi, turns out to be a chart for the nativity of Gayomart, who is the mythical prototype and progenitor of humanity in the Zoroastrian creation story.

Below is an excerpt from the Pingree article (which may be found online by googling its title). It sheds some light on the position of Mercury, among other things:
Quote:

"Unfortunately, little of an astrological nature survives in Pahlavi itself; scientific texts in general were not preserved by those Zoroastroians who survived the Muslim invasions and resisted conversion in Iran or who fled to the west coast of India. The principle extant passage that is relevant is found in the fifth and sixth chapters of the Bundahishn in which the nativity of Gayomart is discussed.

"In this horoscope the ascendant was in 19 Cancer with Tishtar or Sirius... Each of the planets was in its balist or exaltation save for Mercury, whose exaltation, Virgo, is removed from the Sun's, Aries, by more than its maximum elongation; this planet, therefore, was placed with Venus in the latter's exaltation and its own dejection, Pisces. The position of the ascendant is undoubtedly a reflection of an attempt to arrive at a noon-epoch for the creation with the Sun in its Greek exaltation, 19 Aries (the Sun's Indian exaltation is 9 degrees before this)…

"This Sasanian horoscope is quite different from the normal Greek thema mundi, with which it has been compared. The Hermetic thema is based on the doctrine of the planetary domiciles: the Sun, Jupiter, Mars, and Venus are at 15 degrees of their masculine domiciles, the Moon, Saturn, and Mercury at 15 degrees of their feminine domiciles, and the ascendant at 15 Cancer. Rather, it is the Indian horoscope of a mahapurusa (great man) in which all the planets are at their exaltations [except Mercury].

"The earliest occurrence of this mahapurusayoga in India is in the Yavanajataka composed by Sphujidhvaja in 269/70; elements of this text are independently known to have been familiar to Sasanian astrologers. But it has already been noted that the Greek exaltation of the Sun has been used rather than the Indian; this is also true of the exaltations of the lunar nodes, and a Byzantine version of this Zoroastrian horoscope, more complete than the Bundahishn's, indicates that all of the exaltations were taken from a Greek rather than from an Indian source.

"The other astrological elements in the Bundahishn are equally a mixture of Indian and Greek materials…"


Long before I found this reference by Pingree, I had been studying a hypothetical variant of the Thema Mundi with the planets in their exaltation positions, and I was intrigued to find that this chart actually had an historical basis in Persian sources. This chart displays some quite interesting and evocative content that is notably missing from the domicile-based version.

Kyle
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
SGFoxe



Joined: 13 Apr 2006
Posts: 283
Location: Chicago, IL

Posted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all for your splendid reports of your research. However, nothing seems to antedate Cyrus' Babylonian conquest, or demonstrate any indications of an indigenous Magi astrology, which I inferred from Herodotus; meaning that Xerxes' magi-an astrologers had probably adapted Babylonian & Egyptian knowlege???
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Mark
Moderator


Joined: 30 Sep 2005
Posts: 5145
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Posted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Kyle,

Thank you very much for sharing this information. David Pingree was an impecable scholar so his conclusions have to respected.

As you state the first impression one form's is that this is just a variation of the Thema Mundi but Pingree's research seems to refute that decisively.

Does Pingree offer an opinion on when this material may date from?
Judging by the source you quote is he linking this to the Islamic era of Masha'allah ibn Atharī (c.740-d.815 AD) or is he referring back to a much older tradition of Persian astrology Masha'allah may have been drawing upon which was incorporated into the Greater Bundahisn?


Last edited by Mark on Sat Aug 23, 2008 10:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Mark
Moderator


Joined: 30 Sep 2005
Posts: 5145
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Posted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Thank you all for your splendid reports of your research. However, nothing seems to antedate Cyrus' Babylonian conquest, or demonstrate any indications of an indigenous Magi astrology, which I inferred from Herodotus; meaning that Xerxes' magi-an astrologers had probably adapted Babylonian & Egyptian knowlege???


I did hear a talk on 'Persian Astrology' by Courtney Roberts at the History of Astrology Conference in London in 2007. I gained the impression much of the material was derived from her book 'The Star of the Magi' . Although the book's theme is the Star of Bethlehem I believe she does discuss the idea of an ancient tradition of Persian Astrology. I have not read the book myself but you might consider getting this book to follow up your interest in this topic if you have not already done so.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
KyleP



Joined: 30 Nov 2007
Posts: 5
Location: Michigan

Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MarkC wrote:

Does Pingree offer an opinion on when this material may date from?
Judging by the source you quote is he linking this to the Islamic era of Masha'allah ibn Athari (c.740-d.815 AD) or is he referring back to a much older tradition of Persian astrology Masha'allah may have been drawing upon which was incorporated into the Greater Bundahisn?


It seems to me that in speaking of a "Sasanian horoscope" Pingree is linking this material to the period of the Sassanid Empire (~227 CE - 635 CE). I don't understand his reference to the "Indian horoscope" other than to link it to statements about the exaltations that he found in the Yavanajataka, which he dates to ~270 CE.

I'm looking at Rob Hand's article on the history of astrology at www.robhand.com/histintr.htm. I think this is a good, concise statement of what is and is not known about the role of Persian astrology. If all those libraries hadn't been destroyed then we might not be in the position of having to figure out so much for ourselves.

From Rob's article:
Quote:

The Persian peoples had always been enthusiastic astrologers. It seems logical to conclude that they must have developed their own traditions from the astrology that they had inherited from the Mesopotamians and the Greeks. Then in 227 C.E. they were overthrown by the Sassanid Persians who would have continued the development of the Persian traditions of astrology.

Unfortunately when the Arabs came, almost all of the literature of the Zoroastrian Sassanids was destroyed. This includes their astrological works. However we do have a strong clue as to what their astrology must have been like. Most of the greatest astrologers in the Arab era were Persians! And the astrology they taught is quite different from both the Hindu and the Greek. It had orbs of aspect, the Great Cycles of Jupiter and Saturn, all of the elaborate systems of planetary interactions such as Refrenation, Frustration, Abscission of Light, Translation of Light and so forth.

While Arab era astrology clearly owes a large debt to Hellenistic astrology, it is also clear that in the two or three centuries between the last known Hellenistic astrologers and the first known Arab era ones, something new had come into the stream. This could have been, and probably was the Persian stream of astrology. And Arab era astrology is the immediate ancestor of the Western astrology of today. Our astrology may be in fact the successor to that third stream of ancient astrologies.


This is a wonderful forum, glad to have something to post for once!

Kyle
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Forum Index -> Traditional (& Ancient) Techniques All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
. Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group

       
Contact Deborah Houlding  | terms and conditions  
All rights on all text and images reserved. Reproduction by any means is not permitted without the express
agreement of Deborah Houlding or in the case of articles by guest astrologers, the copyright owner indictated