The roots of Experiential Astrology are
as ancient as Astrology itself…
Like many ancient people, the Sumerians of Babylonia spent alot of time observing and charting the movements of the celestial bodies, imbuing them with names and assigning them Gods complete with personalities and specific qualities. This continued in ancient Greece where annual festivals and celebrations were held in honour of these various Gods and Goddesses, enabling their followers to keep in touch with the powerful archetypal energies they personified.
These festivals drew upon the arts of sacred theatre, drama and dance to tell the story of the planetary energies and these events had a profound effect on participants, observers and society in general. For example, Dionysus, the Greek god of wine was honoured in annual festivals, his worshippers, the Maenads, participated in intense experiences that encouraged self –abandonment with wine, music and dance. Eleusis was the site of the sacred Mysteries, held annually in honour of the Goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. These were mythologically based healing rituals, which explored the processes of life, death, decay and rebirth.
The ancient’s way of working with the ‘gods and goddesses’ creates a stark contrast to the sedentary and intellectual approach of the 21st century. The writer, Thomas Moore addresses this issue in his book “The Planets within”. “These patterns and shiftings formerly identified as movements of gods and daemons affecting our souls, now become instincts, drives, unconscious tendencies, conditioned reflexes and cathected complexes. While we have certainly gained something in the move away from superstition and ignorance we have also suffered a loss.’1
Thomas Moore’s book ‘the Planets within’ is a study of the 15th century astrologer/philosopher Marsilio Ficino. Ficino’s ‘therapia of soul’ was an eclectic mix of astrology, hermetic magic, music, imagery and art. He advocated that a planetary archetype lay at the heart of every animal, object, building and flower.
Thomas Moore goes on to say, “ I am not going to suggest a return to the old ways of antiquity. We now have some new information about the cosmos, and some new insight into the nature of the cosmos within. But, having felt the increasing sterility and soulnessness of the purely objective scientific world, can we not return to antiquity with new eyes?.2
This soulful approach to astrology linked ‘the phenomenal world to its archetypal origins’3 and formed the heart of Ficino’s astrological magic.
- Thomas Moore The planets within Lindisfarne Press 1990 Introduction
- Thomas Moore The Planets within Lindisfarne Press 1990 Introduction
- Thomas Moore The Planets within Lindisfarne Press 1990 foreword