Changed consciousness with new models of the Universe
In the middle fifty years of the second century AD, during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, a remarkable man was busy writing the first text books of astrology. This man, Claudius Ptolemy, was born in Egypt and lived for most of his life in or close to Alexandria, still the most cultured city in the world. Making use of both his own observations of the heavens and records kept at the great library of Alexandria, he put together a composite theory of celestial mechanics that is still the basis of astrology today and wrote about this in his four books or tetrabiblos.
At the heart of Ptolemy’s system was the ancient, Hermetic doctrine that the earth lay at the centre of the known universe. Arranged around it, like so many Russian dolls, were concentric spheres. These carried the sun, moon and planets and made up the ‘lower heavens’. Beyond these spheres was the sphere of the fixed stars that made up the ‘higher heavens’, part of which consisted of the zodiac. This was essentially a band or belt in sky, stretching seven degrees above and seven degrees below the ‘ecliptic’: the imaginary circle along which the sun journeyed as it progressed through the year by roughly 1º per day.
Greek astronomers, such as Eudoxus of Cnidus, had been working for centuries on developing a system of mathematics that could be used to give accurate predictions for the placement of planets at any given time. This was not at all easy with the geocentric model of the universe, for it was observable that, unlike the moon, the planets did not move through the signs of the zodiac in a regular, orderly fashion. Instead they would at times appear to stand still and then move backwards (retrograde) for a time before again stopping and recommencing their forwards motion. To cater for these movements a complex theory of ‘epicycles’ was developed, whereby each planet was thought to rotate, not just around the earth, but also about some invisible point in space. As these motions could be described mathematically, this made it possible to accurately predict the positions of planets despite their periodic, retrograde motions.
The Ptolemaic system remained in use in Europe for over a thousand years, until the late 16th century, following the publication in 1543of Copernicus’ ground breaking treatise de Revolutionibus orbium caelestium (Concerning the Turning of the Spheres). In this remarkable work he was able to explain that the apparent retrograde motions of the planets was because they orbited the sun. In other words, that it was the sun rather than the earth that lay at the centre of the universe; the retrograde motions being due to parallax effects when viewed from the earth.
The Copernican revolution, as it is sometimes called, had a huge influence not just on the subject of astronomy/astrology but on the collective consciousness of mankind. Once it was realised that the earth goes round the sun and not vice versa, it also became obvious (to thinking people anyway) that the creation story at the start of the Book of Genesis could not be taken literally. This enraged the church which sensed, rightly, that once people stopped believing in the old certainties, it would lose its grip on people’s minds.
Even more worrying for the ‘men-in-crimson’ were the activities of Giordano Bruno: self-proclaimed prophet for the new thinking. Travelling round the continent he gave lectures on a new Hermeticism that embraced the scientific revolution initiated by Copernicus. Going further still, he suggested that the stars were really just other suns, much like our own, and that they probably had planets going round them too—just like the earth. If this were so, then there were likely to be people living on these planets, perhaps not too dissimilar from ourselves. Were these people, he wondered, fallen into sin as we are through the eating of Adam’s apple and if so, did they have their own Jesus Christ to save them? Such questions as these went to the heart of the debate over the place of faith and science in the new ‘enlightenment’ world that was to be developed in the 1600s. The church’s answer to Bruno, however, was to have him burnt at the stake as a heretic.
Regardless of the martyrdom of Giordano Bruno, there was nothing that the church could do to stop the rise of science and the development of a new mechanistic world-view: the one which we now generally refer to by the blanket term ‘science’. The discovery of the laws of motion and gravity, the unravelling of the atom and elucidation of the nature of electromagnetic waves has changed our world irrevocably. Yet, unbeknownst by many, we now stand on the threshold of another era and the changes that are coming are once more being driven by astronomy.
In the early 20th century, with the building of much larger and more powerful telescopes, the first galaxies other than the Milky Way in which we live, were discovered. This was a monumental discovery on a par with that of Copernicus. For once it was realised that objects such as the nebular in Andromeda were not just gas-clouds but isolated galaxies, then it became clear that not only was our sun in orbit around the galactic centre of the milky way but this ‘centre’ was not the real centre of the universe either. In fact it is not clear that the universe actually has a centre at all, in which case it is just as valid to think of the earth as being the centre as the sun or the centre of the milky way. It is all a matter of viewpoint and all relative to what you are looking at.
A further challenge to our thinking has come with the launch of the Hubble Telescope and the remarkable images it has been returning. Up until its launch we have little knowledge concerning the structure of distant galaxies and nebulae other than the images available to us from earth based instruments. Because of the earth’s own atmosphere, these were inevitably distorted: like looking through a heat-haze. Hubble, by contrast, has provided us with razor-sharp images and many of these challenge our mechanistic assumptions that the universe is without purpose.
Not only that, we see now that our scientific view of creation is based on false premises. Those at the vanguard of what will be a ‘new science’ for the 21st and 22nd centuries are recognising that the role of electricity and magnetism in the formation of the universe has been greatly underestimated. For those with the eyes to see, it is clear that galaxies, stars and planets are involved in electrical and magnetic interactions on a truly cosmic scale. Indeed, as we begin to understand more about the shape of distant galaxies, so it is becoming clear that our own sun is not a gigantic hydrogen bomb, which is what we are currently taught in our schools and universities, but rather some sort of electrode that conducts vast amounts of current flowing from the heart of our galaxy. Indeed this would appear to be the source of its illumination.
These discoveries, which I hope we will go into in more depth in future papers, are changing our whole perception of life, the universe, and everything. For far from being a chaos of elements, randomly thrown around by explosions and loosely pulled back together by gravity, it is, we recognise now that it is a cosmos: an ordered whole. What seemed random is actually not anymore than was the retrograde motion of planets. It is just that till now we have not had the tools at our disposal to recognise it.
This is extremely exciting for other reasons too. For in this cosmic, ordered whole, we too have a place. We are not just mad, sacks of molecules that run around for a short time and then disappear but entities with a task and mission to ‘garden’ planet earth and make her more productive for the tasks that she must perform for the balance of the cosmic whole. This I find exciting because it means that the revolution that is happening now is taking us back to God. In many ways it is the opposite of what happened in the 17th century; balance is being restored.