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The Astrology Podcast

Ep. 436 Transcript: Origins of the Planetary Myths in Astrology

The Astrology Podcast

Transcript of Episode 436, titled:

Origins of the Planetary Myths in Astrology

With Chris Brennan and guest Demetra George

Episode originally released on February 19, 2024


Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: theastrologypodcast@gmail.com

Transcribed by Andrea Johnson

Transcription released March 1st, 2024

Copyright © 2024 TheAstrologyPodcast.com

CHRIS BRENNAN: Hey, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. In this episode, astrologer Demetra George is joining me, and we’re gonna be talking about the ancient myths associated with the planets and the gods and goddesses that came to be associated with those planets, and also how these names were originally established by the philosopher Plato and his students in the 4th century BCE. Hey, Demetra. Thanks for joining me.

DEMETRA GEORGE: Chris, it’s great to be back on The Astrology Podcast and talking ancient astrology with you.

CB: Yeah, ancient astrology and ancient myths. ‘Cause the last episode we did together was on the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna who was connected with Venus, and we talked about how the myths associated with Venus were very relevant in terms of the meaning of that planet in astrology. So here we’re back again to talk about that in a broader sense through the lens of both the Greek as well as the Mesopotamian myths.

DG: Yes. And the whole study of cross-cultural myths and how different cultures often have gods who carry similar attributes is a fascinating study to untangle, as to whether it comes through actual transmission of cultures interacting with another and sharing their knowledge or whether it comes possibly from a more Jungian concept that the gods represent the basic archetypal forces or qualities, forces of the psyche within the human being, and that all cultures will have manifestations of similar gods with similar attributes. And so, to what extent the whole study falls between actual tangential transmission or something that exists more on the level of the collective unconscious is a very rich area of study.

CB: Yeah. And it’s an area of study that you’ve put a lot of your focus on over the course of your career, both in terms of mythology and in terms of astrology. And you had an even older connection, though, with myths in terms of how you grew up, right?

DG: Right. Both of my grandmothers were Greek. I lived with both of them when I was young and those were my bedtime stories.

CB: Okay. So, yeah, you have a deep intimate connection with them that sort of flows through your life, is woven through your life in different ways. So for the purpose of this episode we’re gonna focus on the myths of the planets, and I wanted to just quickly set up an overview of the premise of our discussion, which is that early in the Greek tradition there weren’t names for the planets; it didn’t always exist in Greek literature where there were names for these wandering stars.

DG: Right. It wasn’t even clear that they had identified all of the planets as separate from the stars. It wasn’t just that they hadn’t given them their names, but it wasn’t clear that they had picked them out as something different.

CB: Right. Whereas in the Mesopotamian tradition, they had a tradition that went back to 2000 BCE, where they were really focused on the planets and both astronomy and astrology and were tracking and identifying the planets and gave them specific names.

DG: Exactly.

CB: Okay. So it wasn’t until the time of Plato, in the 4th century BCE, that some authors decided to give the planets specific names based on the gods of Greek religion and mythology. The names first appear in the works of scholars surrounding the Platonic Academy, which were philosophers such as Plato, Philip of Opus who was a student of Plato, Eudoxus who was also an associate of Plato, possibly a student, but a contemporary astronomer and philosopher who is very famous; and finally, also, the names appear in the work of Aristotle, where he refers to them very occasionally and very briefly. So the names appear to have been chosen partially based on matching them to the older names that the Mesopotamians had given to the planets in their pantheon, and our goal here today is to talk about this process of naming the planets after the gods, to compare the mythology of Mesopotamian and Greek myths, and to discuss the impact this has on astrology both historically as well as today in practice and conceptualization and interpretation. So does that sound like a good premise?

DG: Yes.

CB: All right, cool. Well, let’s go back to Mesopotamia first. Let’s start first with the Mesopotamian question, as we talked about in the previous episode, in Episode 412, on Inanna and Venus retrogrades. As we’ve just said, astrology started being recorded in Mesopotamia by 2000 BCE, which eventually led them to develop a complex mathematical astronomy so that they could track and predict the positions of the planets. And the planets themselves were seen as visual representations of the gods in some way, right?

DG: Yes, that in the Mesopotamian cosmology and their religion there is a belief that the divine was imminent here in the world and manifesting through all of the different natural phenomena, including the sky. And so, it isn’t clear whether the planets were the gods themselves or they were one of the many appearances that the gods could take and that the planet became vehicles through which the gods could communicate their intentions for humanity; by their changing appearances, by their shifting motions, by their disappearance and when the planet was visually prominent, it was almost as if the belief was that the god was saying, “Hey, look up, I’m here. I’m making an appearance. I have something to tell you. Listen up.” And so, then this was a means by which humanity could know what the gods wanted, and their primary purpose was to serve the gods.

CB: And from our perspective as astrologers also looking back in history, we know that sometimes when a prominent thing would happen in the sky—such as an eclipse that would take place—they would note that something notable was happening on Earth, like that a king would die. Once they had seen those correlations happen enough over the span of years and centuries—it wasn’t just like a belief or a ‘primitive belief’ that the planets or the stars were gods that were represented or were sending messages—I think they had a real tangible reason for believing that because there was this persistent correlation between significant astronomical movements in the sky and events on Earth.

DG: Right. And it was a science in so far as we have 2,000 years of records recording celestial observations and celestial phenomena and terrestrial events that happened; and those were all inscribed on clay tablets called cuneiform texts. And so, we have a record of their scientific process by which they made these observations and then drew correlations and prognostications from all of the data which they had accumulated over several thousand years.

CB: Right. And that in of itself drove the development of mathematical astronomy; so it was like the astrology was the reason why you would be pushing to develop a better astronomy and develop better planetary models and things like that in order to be able to predict where the planets are gonna be in the future or where they were in the past.

DG: Right. And that was a really big thing because the Mesopotamians had other methods of divination, the primary one being divination through the entrails of a sacrificed animal, especially livers. That was their primary means of divination and astrology through celestial omens was secondary, and often in the initial process they would confirm an astrological forecast through doing a liver divination. But then what they realized—and we’re back to the issue of the astronomy and development—is that they didn’t have to now wait to do the ritual; they could predict ahead of time what the god was going to want. And that’s where astrology rose to become the ‘queen of the sciences’ because humanity could know the god’s intentions for the future, not wait until the moment to find out what was going on.

CB: Right. And then part of the purpose of that and the belief with that was if a negative astrological omen appeared, they would try to do propitiation rituals or try to do things in order to avert it or in order to change the possible outcome.

DG: Yes, those were called namburbi rituals. And the underlying premise of that is that if a mortal is going to negotiate with a planetary god about the god’s intention then that implies a presupposition that there is some sort of consciousness or intelligence that works through the planet; because you can’t negotiate with something that is inert and has no consciousness. So this is one of the main points of the belief of the Babylonians in the sentience either in the planet or moving through the planet and supported the notion of the planets as deities.

CB: Right.

DG: If it’s not alive and sentient in some way, how can you have the conversation, “Hey, you want to listen to my story, and maybe I can get you to change your mind by a transactional interaction?”

CB: Yeah. And that was, as you said earlier, situated in or part of a broader belief that nature and the gods were sending signs to humanity—constantly in different ways, through different means—through different forms of divination. But eventually astrology arose and became the preeminent form of divination later in the Mesopotamian tradition.

DG: Yes.

CB: The last things to mention with the Mesopotamian section are just that the myths or stories associated with the gods sometimes were tied in with the astronomical movements or features of that planet, so that it seemed like there were certain pieces of astronomical wisdom or notions that were actually encoded in the myths in Mesopotamia. Last summer, in the “Inanna” episode, we explored how they had this entire narrative story, a myth about the goddess Inanna descending into the underworld and then eventually reemerging; but within that myth there was encoded the notion of Venus going retrograde and descending under the beams of the Sun and then emerging in the other side of the sky eventually, so that the narrative story had a parallel with an exact astronomical movement. Okay, so there were things like that in the myths, not just with Inanna, but other ones in the Mesopotamian tradition. So in this way there’s a union between astrology, mythology, science, and religion in the earlier Mesopotamian tradition that brings everything together rather than treating them as separate.

DG: Yes. And I’ve often felt in the discussion that contemporary people have as to whether mythology is a valid means by which to understand the signification of the planets, I go back to the mythology of the planets of various deities, I go back to the very beginning of the origins of the Western tradition where the planets were understood to be either the gods or the representatives of the gods conveying their information; that stands at the very beginning of the Western astrological tradition.

CB: Right. Yeah, that’s something I have started to understand better over the years that I didn’t understand as much for a long time, but I’m starting to grapple with and get a better sense of it; especially going back and looking at that Mesopotamian material with you last summer was really instructive in terms of that. Maybe we should talk briefly about the notion of myth and what myth is. Sometimes we have negative associations with it today; like sometimes the term ‘that’s a myth’ means that that’s just something that’s made up or that’s false, that’s not true. In Greek, mythos means ‘story’, and sometimes myths are stories that people developed in order to explain the workings of nature and the workings of the cosmos; and sometimes they were putting things in a narrative structure of a story, but it was something that was supposed to be encoding deeper wisdom or deeper knowledge or even scientific knowledge in a way that worked in that ancient context.

DG: Yeah, it was easier to remember, and therefore easier to pass on and preserve that understanding; people remember a story better than a list of data. And there’s a view of myth that they are memories, in some cases, memories of historical events that happened, that then become encoded in the mythological story. Sometimes myths are associated with religious rituals and that’s another way of the ritual being carried forth. Sometimes they’re explanations of natural phenomena. And so, there were many different approaches to understanding the function that myths had in the passing on of the knowledge of one culture to another.

CB: Right. Okay, that makes sense. Okay, so let’s move on to the Greek tradition; we’ve talked about Mesopotamia. And one of the things that’s important about Mesopotamia is they had developed this very high level of mundane astrology—where astrological omens relate to the state as a whole or to the king as a representative of the state—by let’s say 800 BCE, 700 BCE, and then eventually they developed natal astrology by 410 BCE, which is when the earliest-surviving birth chart dates to. So the concept of looking at the alignment of the planets at the moment a person was born—or at least on the date a person was born—existed as a concept by 410 BCE.

DG: Right. I want to say that the astrology, in terms of the king or the monarch, went back way earlier than the 8th century; it actually goes back to the second millennium.

CB: Right.

DG: The eclipse omen tablets—that come from I think 2350 BC—have to do with the king and enemies of the king. So there is a much larger gap of time between the astrology just for the welfare of the country and the king to that of the individual.

CB: Yeah, I wasn’t saying it started then, but just that there was a culmination of that type of astrology around the time of the Assyrian Empire in the 8th and 7th century BCE, when they had this whole network of 10 different colleges of astrologers around Mesopotamia sending in reports to the king. I always feel like that’s the culmination in some ways of that approach to what we call ‘mundane’ or ‘world astrology’ today.

DG: Yes.

CB: So world astrology then around 700 BCE. But then this new astrology is developed that’s just natal astrology by let’s say 400 BCE.

DG: Right.

CB: So what’s important is that the Greeks started to become aware of astrology around this time. Prior to this time Greek astronomy was not very complex, and also Greek astrology—we don’t really have a lot of references to the Greeks being aware of or using astrology until around this point, around 400 BCE and after. And this period actually—when they start to become aware of it—happens to coincide with the great philosophical schools, the classical philosophical schools of Plato and Aristotle and their successors from about 400 BCE forward.

DG: Yes.

CB: But the upshot of all of that is the Mesopotamians have the oldest tradition of astrology, the Egyptians come in at some point later, and then the Greeks, of those three traditions, seem to be the latest that developed astrology. So this is our transition point to talk about the other main point of this episode, which is the question of when the Greeks became aware of and start practicing astrology and start making major contributions to it And part of the focal point for that is this old article that I went back and reread recently, that I’d read many years ago; it was published in I think 1999. But it’s titled “The Evidence for Astrology in Classical Greece” by Robin Waterfield, and it was published in Culture and Cosmos, Volume 3, No. 2, Autumn/Winter 1999. And if you do a Google search for that title, it’s actually been posted online I think by the Culture and Cosmos website itself. So Robin Waterfield goes through and he does a pretty good job of outlining the earliest evidence for when Greek authors started talking about astrology or something like astrology.

And I’ve had kind of a love/hate relationship with this article over the years because I used to think he was stretching the evidence much further than was warranted; also I had a tension myself because I knew that Hellenistic astrology—the more advanced form of astrology that we’re all familiar with today, that’s really been practiced largely over the past 2,000 years—that most of the technical structure of that doesn’t show up until the 2nd century BCE or the 1st century BCE, whereas Robin Waterfield was really pointing to a lot of evidence of awareness of astrology starting to originate 200 years before that, around 400 BCE, around the philosophical school of Plato and Aristotle and their contemporaries. But as I’ve been going back, especially recently, and doing some of these episodes I’ve done in the past couple of months involving Plato and the Timaeus and the Republic, I’ve been re-looking at all of that evidence and I’ve been realizing that Robin Waterfield was right; that there is an awareness of astrology that very quickly starts coming into focus in Greek writings around this time, around 400 BCE.

Now I think it’s important to say that I don’t think it was that more complex or advanced form of horoscopic astrology that deals with the full four-fold system of planets, signs, houses, and aspects—I don’t think that had been fully developed yet—but I do think that the Greek philosophers became aware of the Mesopotamian treatment of the planets, of the signs of the zodiac, and probably even potentially the concept of natal astrology around this time, around 400 BCE; and that has some really interesting impact on the history of astrology, but also it has a very close and direct impact on the naming of the planets—

DG: Yes.

CB: —which they then contributed to.

DG: So there are stories of some of the early Greek philosophers having contact with the Babylonian and Egyptian cultures. To what extent these stories can be firmly documented is a different question, but they say that Thales—who was the first pre-Socratic philosopher—traveled to Babylon where he engaged in conversations with the Chaldean priesthood who were famed astrologers at that point. We also have stories of the possibility of Plato having traveled to Egypt, which is not too much of a stretch. It’s a relatively easy boat trip from the port of Athens to the north coast of Egypt; it isn’t unreasonable that someone could do that. And many of the pre-Socratic philosophers lived on the west coast of Asia Minor, which is present-day Turkey. There were all these Greek colonies there from at least 1200-1500 BC, and those are connected by land to the Syrian and Assyrian lands. And so, I think that there was certainly communication—a trade and exchange of ideas—that began in this earlier time period, in the 6th and 5th and 4th centuries; that the awareness of a divinatory tradition that was happening there began to filter into the Greek intellectual culture world.

CB: Yeah, for sure. Both in terms of Egyptian culture and the interactions between Egypt and Greece, as well as with Mesopotamian culture, which the Mesopotamian culture at that time was dominated by the Persian Empire; and there were those famous wars between the Greeks and the Persians and a lot of cultural interaction as a result of that and as a result of the proximity of the Persian Empire sort of coming right up to the edge of Greece.

DG: Right. The invasion of the Persians and the Battle of Xerxes in 490 BC. There were Persians that actually stayed in northern Greece and Thessaly for the course of a winter or more, where certain local Thessaly kings became allies of the Persians; and so that was another place where some of that knowledge could have flowed in. And then Phoenicia was also a major shipping culture that was facilitating trade all over the Mediterranean; and that’s where we got our Greek script from, from the Phoenicians. So, again, there were many avenues of the culture starting to intermingle and the communication of what the Mesopotamians had been doing for a couple of millennia, at least 1,500 years at that point.

CB: Right. So, here, given that context, we have to introduce one of the things that’s really important—just the center-point of this—which is the philosophical school of Plato and the Academy. The philosopher Plato was born a little earlier than 400 BCE, but what’s interesting is he was born roughly around the same time as the first birth charts were popping up in Mesopotamia. But in terms of Plato, let’s situate him. So Plato is the most famous and influential philosopher I think of all time, certainly of antiquity, but even up into the present. There’s like that famous statement that’s become a cliché at this point that ‘all Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato’ or something to that effect.

DG: Yes, I’ve definitely heard that.

CB: Sure. So Plato was a famous philosopher. He wrote a series of works, and he also set up a school called the Academy in Athens, Greece and had a number of students and a number of successors, including another famous philosopher. Aristotle—who’s probably like the second-most famous philosopher of all time—was a student of Plato. And there were a number of other philosophers and students of Plato that then went on and either carried on his work or developed their own ideas and thoughts, sort of breaking away from Plato and going in different directions, but still in some way being influenced by their teacher.

DG: Yes.

CB: So I actually have a list of that. I have a list of the students of Plato that I actually wanted to read ‘cause I think it might be helpful in situating some of this. This quote is from Diogenes Laërtius who wrote a famous set of books that were biographies of all of the eminent philosophers. And while some of it’s kind of gossipy and fantastical in places and not treated as reliable in other places, he’s drawing on sources that no longer exist that were legitimate and reliable, so it’s often treated as something that’s important that you have to take into account in different histories of philosophy. So one of the things that he gives at one point is a list of the students and successors of Plato, and he says: “His disciples were the following: Speusippus of Athens, Xenocrates of Chalcedon, Aristotle of Stagira, Philippus of Opus [so that’s Philip of Opus who we’re gonna talk about a lot as one of his students],” and then he goes on and he just lists others. And there were two at the end I wanted to mention briefly ‘cause I thought it was interesting, but he says: “[A]mong them [there were] two women, Lastheneia of Mantinea and Axiothea of Philius, who is reported by Dicaearchus to have worn male clothing.” So I thought that it was really interesting that there were two women that were known to be students of Plato and that one of them was said to have worn male clothing.

DG: Right. Now that’s fascinating in terms of a previous podcast we had done of ancient women astrologers and the scarcity of names of women. Thank you for that quote. We have the names of two more women who come into the realm of the philosophic tradition, something that’s really an important model for contemporary women to have.

CB: Right, exactly. So there, though, we get one important figure, which is Philip of Opus. The last thing with Plato is just what I’ve talked about in the last couple of episodes on Proclus and then also on lots, that Plato wrote two very important and influential philosophical texts where he outlines some basic principles that would end up being very influential for later astrologers. One of them was the Timaeus, which posits this sort of creation myth or creation story where the cosmos itself is a living being that has a body which is the visible universe, but it also has a soul which animates things and provides a sense of things being intelligent and deliberate in some ways.

DG: The cosmos is alive and ‘ensouled’. We have a living, intelligent cosmos that we are a part of. That’s such an important principle for many, many things, and tangentially for astrology as well.

CB: Right. So this is the idea—

DG: It starts with the Babylonian understanding of the cosmos being alive and sentient, filled with some sort of sentient qualities.

CB: Right. So this is the origin of the concept of the Anima Mundi or the ‘World Soul’. And this is a quote from Plato where he says: “This world of ours was made in truth by god as a living being, endowed thanks to his providence with soul and intelligence,” so that’s one of the important takeaways from the Timaeus. And then there was another important dialogue that I talked about in the last episode on Proclus—which was the Republic, which contains ‘The Myth of Er’—where Plato, again, creates a narrative or a myth or a story talking about the cycle of reincarnation. He tells the story of each of the souls traveling on the outskirts of the universe before being reincarnated, and that each of the souls is on the outskirts of the cosmos and they have to cast lots and choose lives for what their life is going to be once they’re born. And then once they’ve chosen a life, they have their choice ratified by the 3 Fates, who in Plato’s dialogue are turning the wheels of the cosmos and especially—

DG: The planetary worlds. They’re sitting on the orbits of each of the planets, spinning that, and it’s by that means that they ratify the fate; and I thought that was really such vivid imagery.

CB: Yeah, I mean, it’s hugely important, hugely crucial. And so, the Fates become associated with the movements of the planets and the cosmos especially, and then each individual is born into a certain life that was chosen; and through that myth you start getting these associations of the planets with fate and with birth and with the life that a person leads, as well as choices that a person makes within life. For the longest time, I always saw a lot of this as being something that later astrologers for sure were influenced by and then it set up a cultural context where the longer those ideas had been around the more they influenced culture and eventually came to influence some of the conceptualizations of astrology, and of Hellenistic astrology especially, two or three centuries later once it had been developed.

But now I’m starting to understand better that to the extent that Greek culture was not an island in the sense of being completely independent and where it had no awareness of Mesopotamian or Egyptian culture, there’s something striking about the fact that Plato is living at a time where the concept of natal astrology has just been developed and where some of his contemporaries, like Theophrastus, mentions natal astrology. He’s dismissive of it, he doesn’t think it’s a legitimate phenomenon, but through that reference we know that the philosophers around this time were starting to become aware of the concept of natal astrology and that Plato himself may have been. It’s curious seeing some of these myths and just wondering if that played any role in the creation of some of this or had any influence whatsoever. And there’s even one story about Plato, at the end of his life, receiving a Chaldean visitor from Mesopotamia. Yeah, that Plato himself may have had contacts with individual Mesopotamians is kind of interesting as well; because in his later dialogues, towards the end of his life, that’s where we find some of these myths—like ‘The Myth of Er’ and some of the things in the Laws, which is his last work—which are also pointing in this direction.

DG: Right. And there is a whole piece that can be done on how the pre-Socratic philosophers and Plato and Aristotle laid a philosophic foundation for the reasonableness of natal astrology, that by the time there was a greater influx of the techniques the rationale had already been established for why it might be a reasonable thing to move forward in developing, and so there’s that as well. So Plato had the growing awareness of what was going on in Mesopotamia, and through his work and the work of his students—but even the work of his predecessors, the pre-Socratics—they’re gradually laying in place those principles of a foundational understanding.

CB: Yeah, that’s a great point. And even other principles that originated in the school of Plato and Aristotle and notions that all change and all movement that occurs in the world originates ultimately from the planets and from the celestial sphere, and that it’s transmitted down here to Earth where everything is constantly changing and moving. Some of those ideas ended up becoming hugely influential and then were taken and sort of ran with by later astrologers in the subsequent centuries.

DG: Yes.

CB: And we can kind of prove that in some ways. For example, I found this quote that I shared in the last episode where a later philosopher, Philo of Alexandria, has this quote, and he’s talking about: “[The Chaldean astrologers] glorified the visible existence and had no conception of what was invisible and intelligible, but in exploring the order in numbers…and the sympathy between heaven and earth, they supposed that the cosmos itself was god.” And that’s really interesting because it kind of confirms that there were astrologers in later times—once Hellenistic astrology had been developed—that took some of Plato’s ideas about the cosmos being a living entity or being God very seriously. In fact, we’ve found a text by Antiochus of Athens—from probably the 1st or 2nd century CE—where at one point it introduces the Thema Mundi, which is supposed to be the mythical birth chart for the beginning of the cosmos or the birth of the cosmos; but Antiochus is unique ‘cause he actually calls the Thema Mundi ‘the birth chart or the nativity of God’. So we’re getting all these ideas from Plato and Aristotle and these early philosophers that end up impacting astrology in very tangible ways in terms of their philosophy and conceptualization of it.

DG: Right. That’s a fascinating process in of itself because the Hellenistic texts aren’t explicitly stating philosophic principles; but by understanding the philosophic principles that were in circulation at the time the texts were composed, one can see how that philosophy permeated the expression of the astrology without explicitly doing so.

CB: Right. And like most Hellenistic philosophy, we’ve lost all of the earliest source texts, and so what mainly survives is later technical manuals so that we have to infer what the philosophy was of the earlier authors. But I do think there’s hints at what the earlier philosophy is that can be teased out and kind of reconstructed and things like that.

DG: You definitely see the articulation of Stoic philosophy in Valens and Manilius, and Ptolemy trying to correlate some of the Aristotelian natural philosophy into his presentation of astrology; so those are some places where the philosophy clearly seeps through.

CB: Yeah. And the Stoic philosophy itself—which became so influential and Hellenistic astrology—in some ways was a continuation and modification of different elements of Platonism, because the Stoics really took over that idea from Plato that the cosmos is a living entity and that the universe itself is sentient and intelligent; and what fate is, is it’s the intelligent ordering of the sequence of events that occur on Earth according to a divine plan, because of that idea, again, which is just a continuation of the idea that the cosmos itself is a living entity and is God in some sense.

DG: Mm-hmm.

CB: All right, so all of this—obviously it seems like it’s taking it really far afield, but now we’re gonna bring it back to our focal point, which is there’s an important transition point that occurs with a student of Plato’s named Philip of Opus. And Philip of Opus was said to be a student of Plato’s, but also was said to be somebody who was an assistant or a secretary that helped to edit and publish Plato’s final work, which is called the Laws. The Laws ends somewhat abruptly towards the end of it, so it’s not clear if it was fully finished, and there were also some pieces towards the middle that almost seemed like they needed a little extra editing; but we’re told that Philip helped to publish the Laws.

And then eventually there’s this other book called the Epinomis that was historically passed down as one of Plato’s works—or at least a work that was passed along with most of Plato’s dialogues—and nowadays most scholars unanimously agree that the Epinomis was actually a work that Philip wrote sometime after Plato’s death in order to carry on, or in order to put his own take on some of Plato’s final views and doctrines, at least in terms of how he understood them from the Laws and from the Timaeus and the Republic. And what I’m learning and coming to a new understanding of is that the Epinomis is an extremely important document in showing the next step in the development of Platonism, which led to astrology and which then influenced where astrology would go over the next several hundred years, all the way until today. There’s many reasons for why that’s true—we can’t get into all of it—but one of the most tangible ways that it’s true and that it’s important is that in the Epinomis is the first time that we see all seven of the planets given names that are associated with one of the ancient gods and goddesses in Greece; all of a sudden Venus is called Aphrodite, Mars is called Ares, Saturn is called Kronos, and so on and so forth.

DG: Right. 25 years ago, I started my studies of classics and dive into Greek philosophy, and I’ve been trying to find the first place that all of the names of the planets were articulated altogether in one spot, in a text that was extant, meaning that we currently have. We’ve gone back and forth on this conversation a lot over the years, but it was in the Epinomis by Philip that we finally see that first articulation. There’s pieces where Plato mentions some of the names but not the others. Aristotle mentioned some of the names but not the others. Eudoxus was said to have mentioned some of the names but we don’t have that text, but it’s in Philip’s text that they’re all there in one succinct paragraph. So that is sort of a milestone in the connection of the planetary gods of Mesopotamian astrology coming in as planets being under the auspices of the various gods of Greek mythology.

CB: Right. Plato mentions only Mercury, which he calls ‘the star of Hermes’ or ‘the star sacred to Hermes’. So already we see inklings of this starting with Plato in the Timaeus, but he doesn’t give names for any of the other planets; in fact, he refers to them by colors or very ambiguously by their movements. But in his student, in Philip, we see the rest of the gods have been assigned to the planets very deliberately, which is interesting and important, ‘cause it means that this is sort of a program that was happening in the Platonic Academy—where we see it in Philip and then we see it in Aristotle and Eudoxus potentially at the same time—but we see it the most clearly in Philip. And we also see a deliberateness in Philip, where in his text he’s very conscious of this, and he’s trying to justify the selection of names, but also he’s acknowledging that there was an influence from the Mesopotamian culture—he also says the Egyptian culture—that is influencing the decision to pick these names. And that’s another really important piece—that there’s a consciousness on Philip’s part, who’s an astronomer.

In the Epinomis, the primary part of it is to essentially encourage people to study astronomy—saying that astronomy in some ways is the highest good or the highest subject of focus—but there’s a consciousness on Philip’s part that there’s some influence and that they’re taking into account the earlier Mesopotamian gods in trying to deliberately sort out and pick which gods to assign to which planets. I guess that’s the thing we should clarify here. Even though it’s been so ingrained in our culture over the past 2,000 years the names for the planets, it’s not a given that certain gods had to be assigned to certain planets, if somebody in the 4th century was doing it from scratch and if you didn’t have those prior associations; so this was part of some sort of conscious decision in some ways on the part of Philip or other people in the Platonic Academy at this time.

DG: Exactly. And one of the explanations is that when the Greeks had encountered the beliefs of Mesopotamian astrology and the names that the Babylonians and Assyrians had given to the planetary gods, they looked at their own mythology and they found gods that they felt most corresponded to the nature and stories of the Babylonian gods, and assign that divinity to that planet based upon the Babylonian correspondences. Now there are other people who totally object to that explanation, saying that the qualities of the planets were totally derived from philosophical principles or constructs that didn’t have anything to do with the deities or deity names, and so those are two very different approaches to understanding the problem. But I think that one of the things we want to do is to look at the qualities of the Babylonian gods and see if in fact they correspond to similar Greek gods, and if there’s a justification for that position.

CB: Right. ‘Cause there’s some scholars today, even in the past few years, that I’ve read that talk about this issue and they don’t think that the Mesopotamian myths were the thing motivating why Philip and the other philosophers assigned specific gods to specific planets, but instead they think that there’s more observational or philosophical notions, like the idea that Mercury is the fastest planet, therefore they picked the god that was the fastest, which is the god Hermes. Or other reasons—like Venus is the brightest planet, it’s the brightest star, and therefore they picked the goddess that was the most beautiful or brilliant goddess, which is Aphrodite. So what we have in front of us and what we’re gonna do next then is check that thesis. What we need to establish and see is—in looking at this from a mythological standpoint—if the Mesopotamian myths line up well enough with the Greek myths, that it’s clear that what Philip says is true, that they were making the connections based on an equivalence of Mesopotamian and Greek deities. So I want to take a little break, but then let’s dive into that.

DG: Okay, good.


CB: So we’re back. Let’s talk about the myths of the planets. One of the things about this is there’s certain instances—when you’re comparing the Mesopotamian myths with the Greek myths of the planets—where there’s a much clearer and much more compelling and obvious connection, whereas there’s others where it’s a little bit more complicated, or where there’s less points of contact. So we’re gonna go through each of them, and one of the things we need to do objectively as scholars—as people that are looking at this—is try to see how well the connections match between the myths; we’re gonna focus on the points of connection unity, but then we can also talk about points of disunity as well.

All right, so you have a very helpful chapter actually, or a very helpful little table that does this—that compares the myths—in your book, Ancient Astrology: Volume 1, which I’d recommend everyone get a copy of on Amazon or wherever you buy books. So you have a very useful table—and I’m gonna show some of this as we talk—in the chapter on the planets, starting on page 51: the planet, the Mesopotamian or Babylonian myth, the Greek myth and god, and then finally you compare it with some significations given in Vettius Valens. So I’ll be talking about that and referring to that and showing it on the screen for those watching the visual version of this as we go. But why don’t we start with, first, the two luminaries? And you had a point about that in terms of the comparison of the myths, right?

DG: Yes. What I wanted to say is that the Sun is the Sun and the Moon is the Moon. And when the Babylonians talk about the nature of their Sun god, Shamash, from the Greek standpoint, it isn’t looking around to see which of their deities is most like the Sun—the Sun is the Sun. The Sun they knew as Helios and Apollo, so that there is a much more clear and direct association; what we are going to explore is did the attributes and description that the Babylonians gave to Shamash correspond to the Greek gods of the Sun, Helios and Apollo. So with Shamash, he was portrayed between two mountains, and he would—in the morning, his the scorpion men—open the gate of the Mountain of the East; and he would emerge and then go across the sky in his chariot and then by the evening descend through the gate in the western mountain and go into his subterranean course; and he was shown as rays emanating from his shoulders and from his head. And we see the parallel of this in the portrayals of Helios, the Greek Sun god, who likewise had the rays coming out of him, and each morning he drove the chariot of the Sun, pulled by these horses, across the sky, and then descended. First of all, they both visualize their Sun god in the same iconography, which of course is quite obvious if you just look at the Sun’s motion through the skies.

CB: Right.

DG: Shamash as a Sun god, his qualities were of vigor and courage, which in some ways we associate that astrologically with our will, the force of our being. And the Sun—because he could see everything transversing the highest point of the sky and could see everything that was going on, and he knew what was going on—was both a protector of people and a judge because he could see the wrongdoings that people were performing; but also was a god of divination. And so, Shamash in Babylonian mythology, through his priests, called the baru, was especially honored for revealing the secrets of the future—particularly through liver divination—and the city that he was connected with, Sippar, was a center of divination.

So when you go to the Greek mythology, Helios—who is the Sun god in the earlier pantheon of the titans—then became merged with the Olympian god Apollo, and Apollo was the god of divination, and his major site was at Delphi, the main oracle site of the Greeks for a thousand years; and so we have both gods associated with gods of divination. And the Sun god Shamash was also connected with justice; he was the lord who meted out judgment. In Greek myths, Apollo shows up in the trial of Orestes who killed his mother because she killed his father, who killed their daughter, etc. Orestes fled the Furies, who are hounding him, and threw himself for mercy upon the altar of Apollo at Delphi, and then Apollo said, “Hey, we have to have a trial where you’re going to be judged, and I’m going to be your lawyer and present your defense.” And so, this quality of being a god of justice was shared by both the Babylonian god Shamash and the Greek god Apollo, as well as their main qualities of being the god of divination.

CB: That’s pretty good. That’s pretty striking and a pretty nice correspondence in terms of those two cultures.

DG: Mm-hmm.

CB: And then in terms of the actual astrological tradition later, our best source for the significations or the meanings of the planets, that’s all in one place, is the 2nd century astrologer Vettius Valens; his very first chapter is a long list of the meanings of the planets. And Valens lists some significations that are actually relevant in terms of those gods, right?

DG: Yes, it’s ‘the light of the mind’; it’s ‘the organ of the perception of the soul’. He has ‘judgment’ in there and ‘crowns of office’. So you could just show that passage in the diagram, if you want, and read out some of those. And the Sun god was not only the light of the Sun, but the power of light moving through the Sun.

CB: Okay. And the significations you have, you’ve picked out some, ‘cause it’s like a larger paragraph. Here’s Riley’s translation, the full paragraph on the Sun. But in the ones you picked out to focus on, Valens says that the Sun in astrology signifies the ‘light of the mind’, ‘organ of perception of the soul’, ‘kingly office’, ‘persons of higher repute’, ‘judgment’, ‘crowns of office’, ‘popular leadership’, ‘father’, and ‘height of fortune’.

DG: Mm-hmm.

CB: Were there any other points about that? I mean, it’s interesting ‘judgment’ coming up as a recurring thing with these.

DG: Definitely And I think the ‘light of the mind’ and the ‘organ of perception’ having to do with the qualities of light itself is something that one could expand.

CB: Yeah, for sure. I mean, just in the larger paragraph there’s other ones, like the ‘ordinance of the gods’ as one; ‘judgment’. This is Valens’ full list of significations: ‘reputation’; ‘father’; ‘master’; ‘friendship’; ‘notable personages’; ‘honors’; ‘high priesthoods’.

DG: Yeah, he includes ‘fire’ and ‘intellectual light’.

CB: Yeah. But for our purposes the main point is if Philip is picking—well, I guess Philip’s not really. It’s like they already had a name for the Sun, so these are the ones that are going to be less controversial just because the Greeks and the Mesopotamians already had names.

DG: Right. Because they’re the planets that are visible and impact us every day and every night that we have direct correlations with.

CB: Got it, okay.

DG: Right. Whereas the planets, you wouldn’t necessarily know or distinguish them from the rest of the sky unless you were looking.

CB: Yeah, that makes sense. And I thought divination was also connected at one point with the Sun in Valens. I’m having trouble finding my translation, but we’ll come back to that. Shall we move on to the Moon?

DG: Yes.

CB: Okay.

DG: I don’t know whether this is relevant or not, but I just saw it in my book. Helios had cults on the island of Kos—which is where Berossus set up his school of astrology—and on the island of Rhodes. One of the 7 Wonders of the World was this big Colossus of Rhodes, which was Helios. And Rhodes was, I believe, one of the places of transmission of Babylonian astrology to the Greece mainland, seeing that it sits right between the coast of Phoenicia and the coast of Turkey; and the center of Hellenistic astronomy was on the island of Rhodes. And so, I don’t know. As I said, I don’t know if this is a correlation, but since we’re looking at the qualities of the Greek gods and their cult sites—for both reasons of the introduction of astrology to Greece and the center of Greek astronomical studies—Helios as the Sun god, as the Babylonian Shamash, is the one that presides over those islands.

CB: Got it, okay. And I just pulled up my translation, and I was right because of this one statement that Valens makes, ‘dealings with the gods’. It’s interesting ‘cause he puts that right next to ‘judgment’ as one of the significations for the Sun, but I have a little footnote pointing out that one of the translators infers that the ‘dealings with the gods’ occur through oracles, so that was one that I wanted to point out that just runs as a through-line from the Mesopotamian tradition to the Greek mythological tradition and then into this astrological text as a specific signification.

DG: Yes.

CB: All right, so let’s move on to the Moon.

DG: Okay. So the Moon—there are some differences between the Babylonian Moon god that was a masculine or male divinity and the Greek goddess Sele(ne), or Se(lene), as it’s pronounced, and she’s also part of a trinity with Artemis and Hecate; so the first difference is the male/female association between the Babylonian god of the Moon and the Greek god of the Moon. And the Moon—along with the Sun and Venus—were in Babylonia the three prominent astral deities that were depicted in all kinds of iconography. You see the Sun with its rays, the crescent Moon, and the eight-pointed star of Venus. So the Moon was relatively high up in the pantheon, and the Moon god Sin was depicted riding in a crescent-shaped boat that they called a barque (b-a-r-q-u-e) across the evening sky; and at a certain point in its monthly passage, the crescent gave way to a full-blown crown that indicated the Full Moon. And one thing that is interesting to me is that the Egyptian gods, particularly Osiris, were likewise depicted on these crescent-shaped barques traveling across the night sky; so you have an Egyptian-Mesopotamian connection there.

CB: Maybe it’s due to the crescent shape of the Moon representing a boat.

DG: Yeah. And Sin was portrayed as an old wise man with a lapis lazuli beard, and that it was felt that he was an enemy of evildoers; there’s myths that at the lunar eclipse he was surrounded by seven evil demons. And so, again, I’m veering off the Greek, but a lot of the eclipse mythology that has to do with the demons coming out to eat the Sun and Moon, we see that kind of imagery and belief going back into the earliest level of the understanding of the Moon god Sin. Now he corresponds to the measurement of time—okay, that is obvious the Moon’s monthly passage is a perfect calendar—and he was thought to provide offspring or children and was an aid to pregnant and birthing mothers; and this is very similar to the Moon goddess. Again, this is fundamental because the 28 days of the Moon’s cycle corresponds to a woman’s menstrual cycle, and so the Moon obviously would be connected to the whole process of conception and being involved in the nurturing of the young and in the pregnancy and labor of women, so it isn’t much of a stretch.

CB: Sure.

DG: And as such, like the Greek significations of the Moon, he was a symbol of growth and abundance, and you see that in the Moon’s phases, starting off when the Moon gets bigger and bigger; and when you do elections, you want an election on the waxing Moon where it is connected with the process of growth. Now some pieces of the Moon god Sin that are especially fascinating to me have to do with that he had two main centers of worship: one was in Ur, which is in southern Mesopotamia—and Ur was one of the seats of the Chaldean priest—and his second place of worship was in Harran, which is in the very northern part of Mesopotamia, and the Moon god was worshiped in both of those sites. In the biblical story of Abraham, he is said to have been born in Ur of the Chaldeans, and then he traveled to Harran where he connected with his wife Sarah, and then they together went to Canaan and went on their journey; and the Hebrew texts say that it was Abraham who brought the science of astrology to the Jews. So Abraham is considered to be one of the legendary founders, and he came from the city of the Moon god, which was of the Chaldeans; so the Moon becomes very interesting in that. And then many astrologers are aware of the importance of Harran.

In the late Hellenistic period—when astrology was starting to go underground due to Christianity and the Romans—Harran became one of the outposts of the Hermetic tradition, and then there were all the star-worshiping temples where we have the astral Hermetic religion being practiced for many centuries after astrology had gone underground and closed down in the other part of the Mediterranean. And there in Harran—which was called the ‘City of the Moon God’, they still had that association—I feel that Harran was one of the key places where the tradition of astral magic—being merged with electional astrology fully—was practiced and came together, and we see the importance of the Moon in all kinds of electional work happening; so there’s a level of the Moon happening there. So I just wanted to share some of those stories of the Moon god because it’s so important to the larger context of our astrological history.

CB: And we talked a little bit about Harran in the “Proclus” episode as well because of the pagan philosophers—who were essentially Neoplatonic philosophers—packing up their bags and moving to that area in order to get away from persecution or as a result of being exiled, but as a result of that carrying some of those pagan and Platonic and astrological traditions.

DG: Yes. It’s said that Simplicius went there when the Academy closed down later on and there is the importation of the Platonic astrology that went into Harran and the surrounding areas, that then became part of—with Thebit ibn Qurra—the tradition that moved over into Baghdad and influenced Arabic astrology, so that there’s a direct line and Harran stands at the crossroads of those cultures.

CB: Yeah, Simplicius and them being the last of the line of those later Neoplatonists who were all integrating astrology—or even practicing astrology to some extent—into their practice. Proclus was for sure an astrologer, but then even Porphyry was incorporating it to some extent; Iamblichus mentions it. It’s striking how many of the later Neoplatonists were talking about and dealing with astrology to some extent.

DG: Yes.

CB: So it’s like the very tail-end of the Platonic tradition things sort of come full-circle in a way compared to where they started at the beginning of the Platonic tradition with Plato and the early inklings of astrology or something like it potentially starting to come into consciousness.

DG: Mm-hmm. And I just found it fascinating that it was the Babylonian Moon god Sin whose site held such an important piece of all of that history.

CB: For sure.

DG: From the very beginning, all the way through to the very end, ‘cause Sin was one of the oldest of the gods in the pantheon.

CB: Yeah. Like Sin was the most important god in Mesopotamia and was also associated with the measurement of time, as well as with wisdom.

DG: With wisdom and with child birth. And so, we definitely see the theme of childbirth spill over into the Greek goddesses of the Moon, and the Greek Moon goddesses are a trinity of Artemis of the New Moon, Selene of the Full Moon, and Hecate of the waning Dark Moon, portraying women in their three phases as Maiden, Mother, and Crone, or as the three phases of the Moon and the three stages of a woman’s life. As I said, this is in some ways the greatest difference between the Moon god and the Moon goddesses, but they both presided over the same themes of the calendar and of child-birthing cycles. And Artemis—one of her roles was as a midwife bringing children in. She and Apollo were twins—and Apollo was the Sun god—and she was born first, easily, and then she assisted her mother’s labor with the birth of Apollo.

CB: Okay. So this is an interesting sort of discontinuity at least between the myths of the traditions where we have like a male god in the Mesopotamian tradition but we have all female gods associated with the Moon in the Greek tradition.

DG: Mm-hmm. But nevertheless they preside over the same significations of the calendar and pregnancy and childbirth.

CB: Sure.

DG: The growth of all things.

CB: Yeah, that makes sense. It’s just interesting in terms of that setting the precedent that’s still held 2,000 years later in terms of the tendency, to whatever extent, astrologers engender or try to associate genders with planets, of associating the Moon with women or the mother or what have you versus to whatever extent it was like a male deity in the Mesopotamian tradition. Sometimes these choices that were made at that point impact things or can send things in slightly different directions.

DG: Yeah, I think so. And it wasn’t as if the Greeks made up a new Moon goddess. This was their goddess of the Moon that they had preexisting for a long time before their exposure to Mesopotamian astrology, and before perhaps trying to correlate it. These were the deities that were already in the Greek pantheon.

CB: Got it. Obviously, there’s commonalities between those two cultures. But then can we say then—to the extent that the Greeks treated the Moon more as a feminine deity rather than a masculine one—that that sort of feminization of the Moon has impacted the Western astrological tradition in terms of our interpretation of it, to whatever extent at least the mythology or what have you has played a role in influencing the astrological tradition?

DG: Yes. And I think that it’s undeniable that the 28 days of the Moon cycle corresponds directly to women’s reproductive physiology.

CB: Right. Yeah, I mean there’s definitely other—

DG: Right. It’s the determinant in conception and pregnancy and labor.

CB: Yeah, there’s definitely other symbolic and empirical or conceptual reasons why we could make arguments for why the Moon’s connected with women and that’s a really good one that’s pretty straightforward in terms of that.

DG: Right. As I said, yeah, this is where there seems to be the least correlation simply because one is a male and the other is a female, but they’re not unconnected and they both presided over the same significations that have to do with the astronomy of the Moon herself and the physiology of human bodies.

CB: Yeah, that’s a good continuity there. Also worth mentioning here—even though we’re not dealing with it for the most part—but in the earlier Egyptian culture, Thoth, the god of wisdom, was originally associated with the Moon as well.

DG: Mm-hmm. And he was connected with the calendar.

CB: Right.

DG: ‘Cause the Moon means time and being.

CB: With time. Okay, cool. All right, and then there’s a few significations in Valens that we’re gonna mention?

DG: Yeah.

CB: Okay, so the significations you highlight in your book, Valens says that the Moon is the ‘reflection of solar light’, and it represents ‘life’, ‘the body’, ‘mother’, ‘conception’, ‘queen’, ‘wanderings’, ‘legal marriage’, ‘housekeeping’, ‘property’, ‘gathering of crowds’, ‘home’, ‘ships’, ‘receipts’, and ‘expenditures’.

DG: Mm-hmm.

CB: All right, sounds good. Anything else to mention about the Moon?

DG: Not at the moment. I think we’ve got five more to get on with.

CB: Yeah, yeah, okay. All right, there’s that. All right, so moving on to the next one, originally, we were sort of talking about and debating whether we should go from the ones that match up the most impressively to the ones that are least connected or if we should just go through a more standard order of Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and we decided to go through in this order just for the sake of being able to show this visual representation that you have from your book. All right, so let’s move on to Mercury. And Mercury is one of the ones where the connection I think is the most obvious and most compelling, right?

DG: Right. I mean, we’ll find that they all are very strong from this point on. So Mercury in the Babylonian mythology was the son of Marduk, and Marduk was equivalent to Jupiter, which we’ll get to. Marduk was was the king of the gods and Nabu was his son and is often described as the ‘Crown Prince’, and that gave the Babylonian god Nabu part of his status of being the crown prince of the leader of all the gods; his name meant ‘the announcer’ and our god Mercury is known as the god of communications. Nabu was the god of scribes and was said to have invented writing itself, and was associated with literacy, the ability to read and write, and hence, with wisdom through having access to that knowledge; and Mercury likewise is known as the god of learning, of education, of literacy.

And one of the important things about the Babylonian god Nabu is that when his father Marduk became king of the gods, he took on the power of determining the fates or the destinies of men, and it was Nabu who inscribed or wrote down individual destinies upon the tablets of fate, and so he also has that incredible status; and the Greek god Hermes, who connected to Nabu, likewise, as I said before, was the god of learning and wisdom. And Nabu, they said, not only wrote down the fates, but he had the power of being able to increase or decrease the days of a person’s life; and so he had some share of his father Marduk’s power of determining those destinies, so that became a little bit interesting to me. Now one part that was most exciting to discover was that Nabu’s site of worship was in Borsippa. And I don’t know—I sent you the map of the Babylonian cities; we don’t need to show it now. But Borsippa is where later the Tower of Babel was said to have been erected in the—

CB: Oh, wow.

DG: —biblical literature. And the Tower of Babel was all of these people speaking all of these different languages, and of course Nabu/Mercury is the god of speech and of language and literacy. And Borsippa also became the site of one of the main ziggurats, which are these pyramid-shaped, monumental structures in Babylonia; and Nabu’s ziggurat, in his cult city of Borsippa, had seven levels representing the seven planets and it was all encased in lapis lazuli, a shiny blue stone. It went like—what was it—70 meters high, which is really tall, and it was felt that at the very top of the ziggurats were astronomical observatories; and this is where the astrologer-priests went to do their celestial observations of communing with the gods, and so the biggest and grandest of these was that of Nabu. And in the Greek mythology, Mercury is connected with math, with astronomy, and being one of the so-called ‘inventors of astrology’; and certainly as Hermes goes over into the Egyptian culture of Hermes Trismegistus—which is the amalgamation of Hermes and Thoth—you have Hermes as the fountainhead of Hellenistic astrology, alchemy, and magic. So we have a continuity here between all three cultures of Nabu, Hermes, Hermes Trismegistus, and Mercury as being connected with language, learning, astronomy, and astrology.

CB: Yeah, that’s really consistent and that’s a really great connection there. So in Valens, some of the significations you have picked out are that Mercury signifies ‘letters’, ‘education of children’, ‘commerce’, ‘disputation’, ‘speech’, ‘brothers’, ‘youth’, ‘theft’, ‘bestower of intellectual and practical wisdom’, ‘augers’, ‘interpreter of dreams’ ‘lawyers’, ‘orators’, ‘philosophers’, ‘temple builders’, and ‘searchers of the sky’.

DG: Right. And in the Hellenistic literature, Mercury particularly is the one signifying astrologers.

CB: Yeah, right. It’s funny that you have some of the trickster-type significations as well that come up with Mercury, which is kind of interesting. And I also thought about the story of Hermes and the lyre and walking backwards to cover his tracks, because it almost seems like a sort of astronomical implication there in terms of Mercury frequently turning retrograde.

DG: Right. They said that after he was born—he was born at dawn—by midday, he was up and out of his cradle and decided to play a trick on his brother Apollo, the Sun god, and went and stole his cattle, and then to disguise it, he made these shoes out of webbed reeds or whatever and put them on and walk backwards; so if you were trying to track his tracks they would go in the opposite direction—which is a whole thing of retrograde motion—and by evening, he was back in this cradle. And then the next day or two, Apollo discovers his cattle has been stolen, he says, “All I know is that brand new brother of mine that was just born,” and he high-tails it over to the cave where Mercury is in this cradle; and Mercury goes, “Baa, baa, baa. I’m just a baby. I didn’t do it.” And so, there’s a cute scene where Apollo hauls baby Hermes off and brings him to Zeus and it’s two brothers squabbling like, “He took away my toys,” and Zeus just thinks it’s the funniest thing that his younger son has so much spunk that he would do that. And he picks him up on his lap, and he says, “Okay, boys, now be friends. Mercury, you picked up this turtle and made this instrument. Give it to Apollo and apologize and be good brothers.” And because Mercury and the Sun—their cycle with one another is so intimately connected and obvious—three times a year they’re doing this dance—in the Greek mythology you see this connection between them as becoming close brothers and Mercury’s backward motion as being part of their story of how they got there.

CB: Yeah. And it’s like I don’t know what the date is or how early that specific story associated with Hermes is, but it seems like that’s like the Mesopotamian ones, that encodes almost an astronomical cycle or myth in it; just because it’s interesting that the story involves Apollo, the Sun god, and Hermes, which is associated with Mercury. Mercury is constantly—like three times over the course of the year—slowing down, stationing retrograde, retrograding behind the Sun (or retrograding under the beams of the Sun at least), and then eventually emerging again, but it’s walking backwards; walking backwards is what retrograde meant in the Greek astrological tradition if you interpret the word literally, so there’s just something about that that seems pretty connected and compelling.

DG: Yeah, exactly, that the motion of Mercury is so linked with the myth. And as you said, yeah, the earliest version of that myth would be an interesting thing to start tracking down. There’s a book that I don’t see so much in circulation anymore by Gantz (G-a-n-t-z)—I think it’s Timothy Gantz—where he records some of the earliest of the Greek myths and their sources; that would be one place I would go hunting for that evidence.

CB: For sure.

DG: I want to speak just quickly that very few of the ancient Greek sources have all of these narratives altogether in one place. You’ll find just fragments of the different stories in different works of literature, on vase paintings, or in poetry, but it’s almost as if it’s based on an assumption that everyone knows the story, and you’re just picking out certain pieces of it to incorporate in a play that you’re writing or a philosophic thing that you’re developing. And it isn’t until the early century CE, in the library of Apollodorus, that some of these fragments are put together in a continuous narrative of texts that we actually have. So going to look for that whole story in the earliest literature, I’m saying it’s challenging that you would find it as such, but you can find certain pieces of it in various places, just for people who want to do that research to be aware of that.

CB: Right. Yeah, that’s really important. And a point that I meant to make—and I guess we should make it now so it’s not lost by the time we get to the end—but we’re looking at this and we’re trying to do two things. On the one hand, we’re seeing how well Philip and the Platonists connected the names that they chose for certain planets with the Mesopotamian equivalents that they had assigned to their planets, and then we’re seeing how this sometimes carries through into the astrological tradition. But the mythology wasn’t the only factor that was being considered for the significations in Valens; there’s like a whole variety of different conceptual and astronomical, and also just archetypal things that were motivating this. Because part of the premise of the myths and the use of mythology in astrology is they hint at an overarching—almost transcendent, but not entirely—concept of what Mercury represents as an archetype, and you see different elements of that archetype filtering through in either different cultures through their myths or through the astrology and the way that that planet manifests itself. But there’s some broader point there that I think we’re supposed to make about that in how we’re connecting some of this.

DG: Yeah. I mean, we’re doing two things in telling the myths of the gods—just because I’m a myth-teller—but we’re also seeing if there is correlation between them. And if Philip, or whoever, had this planet called ‘Nabu’ from Babylonian culture, and I’m trying to see do we have any god who is anything like Nabu, Hermes is an obvious one to land upon with both of their connections having to do with writing, literacy, education, and communication.

CB: Right. Interestingly, that’s the one that Plato does mention, which therefore could be Plato’s own connection. Because we don’t know if he got it from somebody else—we have no evidence for that—or if this was part of a program within the Platonic Academy to pick names of the gods and assign them to planets once they started becoming familiar with the planets and advanced astronomy. Also, there’s some broader points—the Platonists were very much against nominalism. They thought that words and meanings had value, and I think they were very deliberate in their word choices for things. And there’s some side point where I think that may have been part of the motivating factor here for picking the names of gods—in addition to the earlier Mesopotamian precedent—where when you give a name to something, that name can represent or can invoke a wide variety of different meanings and implications, so that sometimes it’s important to be very deliberate about language; and I feel like there’s something there, some sub-point there that’s relevant for this.

DG: When we were preparing for this last night, I ended up reading Plato’s dialogue Cratylus, and that was all about the names that we give things, and if they’re the appropriate, should we rightly call all these things by these particular names; so he totally develops that notion in that particular dialogue.

CB: Right. Yeah, I think that’s important here. Okay, the last thing about Hermes. This isn’t in your list, but in the full translation of Valens for Mercury, there’s three in a row that I think are important for that myth we just told about Hermes and Apollo where Valens says that Mercury signifies ‘youth’, ‘play’ and ‘theft’.

DG: As well as ‘brotherhood’. You see that up there.

CB: Yeah, ‘brothers’. So it’s like there’s other significations sometimes that are relevant here, but that’s another one where is that coming from, symbolically, Mercury’s movements or other astronomical things or from empirical considerations? To what extent is the myth itself influencing that interpretation in Valens, so that when somebody like Valens mentions that, they have the idea of that myth of Hermes being such a trickster and making the lyre and tricking Apollo and retracing his steps and stealing the tortoise or what have you? To what extent—for a person who speaks Greek from the 2nd century—is this range of ideas invoked and implicit versus to what extent are these just abstract significations and concepts in astrology? I think there’s an ambiguity there, but the reality is it’s probably both, and I think for me that’s actually an important realization.

‘Cause for the longest time I took more of a hardline approach that it’s not the mythology at all, they’re just deriving the significations astrologically from conceptual reasons and from astronomical reasons or things that fundamentally go back to astronomical movements that are being interpreted symbolically. But I realize now as I get older that you can’t separate the culture in which the astrology is practiced and the stories and myths and beliefs associated with some of these things from their astrological interpretation to some extent. And I think that’s obviously a position you’ve always had, that has run through your work consistently, that you’ve always said and promoted.

DG: Right. And one thing occurred to me as you were reading out Valens’ significations. He has a list of significations, but what we’re left with now in the 21st century with Mercury is writing and communication.

CB: Right. We’ve lost—

DG: Some of these others may in fact have been things that Valens came up with. But what has survived and sustained through the 2,000 years is going back to the fundamental qualities of Nabu and Hermes that had to do with these themes of being a scribe of language, of writing, and communicating.

CB: Okay. Well, yeah. I mean, I’ve always thought if that’s the fundamental meaning, it also may go back fundamentally to an astronomical point, which is that the Sun is the center of the solar system and it represents wisdom and knowledge and the intellect and the mind; but Mercury is the very first planet that comes after the Sun and acts as like a gatekeeper, or as a go-between in a sense, between the Sun and all of the rest of the planets and the rest of the solar system. In that way, you can understand—maybe if you take that astronomical point that is true—how we could interpret that symbolically then that Mercury represents the messenger or the go-between.

DG: Right. The one who’s running around communicating the basic wisdom of the Sun through its quick motion.

CB: Right.

DG: But this is the little sticky point—that they sort of understood the Sun, and they put it in the center, but they didn’t put it closest to Mercury; the Sun was between Mars and Jupiter.

CB: No.

DG: Between Mars and Venus, between Mars and the Earth, in the order of the planets from the Sun, with the Sun holding the central position, but it wasn’t at the very center of the solar system.

CB: Right. I mean, that’s true. I guess I was just thinking of why Mercury still represents communication in a way that’s become true universally. And as you said, that’s still the one signification that everybody agrees on for Mercury, and I would say because of the reality of the place that it occupies in the solar system and that piece of it was true and has always been true as a result of that reality regardless of what astronomical models we had in the past.

DG: Mm-hmm.

CB: Yeah, but then we get into a separate question of how that was originally established and everything else.

DG: They weren’t seeing Mercury’s proximity to the Sun in the way that we understand that to be the case.

CB: Yeah.

DG: Yeah, that can bring us into a weird discussion of things that are true even though the premises upon which we based our conclusion are not true.

CB: I mean, yeah, I think that happens in the history of science sometimes where somebody can make an assumption or an inference about something for the wrong reasons but still be true, and then later you can find out that the premise of why that person got to that conclusion was wrong but that the conclusion that they had gotten to was still accurate. Yeah, I think sometimes maybe that’s where we’re at. Okay, let’s keep going. You and I can go off on whole tangents for hours and days if we let ourselves. All right, that’s good for Mercury. Let’s move on to Venus, which is another one where just the through-line across the traditions is very clear and very explicit.

DG: Yeah, for the Sumerians who predated the Babylonians, it was the goddess Inanna, and then when the Babylonians took over the Sumerian culture they gave the name of Ishtar to Inanna; but Inanna/Ishtar had been associated with the planet Venus from even preliterate times because she was represented in iconography and on the gates to her city at Uruk by the eight-pointed star, which speaks to Venus’s minor period of eight years of making that planetary period return cycle. So someone had figured that out before writing was invented based on the dating of sculptural reliefs signifying Venus by the eight-pointed star next to the Sun and Moon.

CB: I forgot about that, and that’s something we talked about extensively in the “Inanna” episode. That’s really important, ‘cause, again, that means some of the fundamental myths are going back to astronomical observations. They’re observing astronomy and then they’re encoding some of the astronomy in the myths, but then to the extent that the astronomy is then sometimes being interpreted symbolically, that’s getting encoded in the myths as well. So I know that’s not always happening in every myth, but with some of the celestial myths that does seem like an important component.

DG: Then we have the Venus Tablets of Ammisaduqa, and they are circa 1700—I think that’s the right date within a century—and that’s pretty early on in the old Babylonian period; and there you have the observations of the planet Venus as Morning and Evening Star with their appearances and disappearances being used to track agricultural productivity and times of famine of the land and different events with wars, and so there’s a very close correlation of the planet Venus being written down in the old Babylonian period. And I tried to track this down last night, and I got stumped by not actually knowing Akkadian, but in the translations of those tablets they use the word ‘Venus’; but I know in the cuneiform texts they did not use the word ‘Venus’, I guarantee you. My belief is that they used the word ‘Ishtar’, but I can’t point to some cuneiform tablet and establish that authoritatively; but, for sure, I know that ‘Venus’ was not the word that was being transliterated into a Akkadian in 1700 BC.

CB: Right, okay.

DG: So there’s a clear identification there between the planet and the name of a deity, and we talked about Inanna’s descent to the underworld. Venus was known as the ‘Morning Star’, as the goddess of war who rode into battle, and she was especially venerated as such in the city of Nineveh—which was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, which was a very militaristic empire—but she was more worshiped as the goddess of love in her Sumerian capital of Erech (E-r-e-c-h) or Uruk (U-r-u-k)—depending on how you spell it—and there she was the goddess of love and the patron of the sacred prostitutes or courtesans. I just want to point out that Aphrodite in the Greek pantheon had her city at Corinth, which was known as being a city of sacred prostitution; so we have those two motifs spanning a long period of time in different cultures as being associated with this goddess. And we spoke about Inanna’s descent to the underworld to attend the funeral of her brother-in-law Nergal—who’s the planet Mars, and we’ll get to Mars—and then her being hung up, and then the gods come and get her release and she comes out as the Morning Star. Then when we have the mythology of Ishtar, Ishtar’s lover is named Tammuz, and he’s killed and he goes to the underworld, and Ishtar goes down there demanding his release, threatening to open the gates of the underworld and let everyone out if Ereshkigal doesn’t give him back; and there is a compromise where he has to spend half of the time in the underworld and he can come back the other half of the time with Ishtar, in the same way of Inanna’s descent, her husband Dumuzid spent half the time in the underworld and then the other half he could return and they would celebrate the sacred marriage and the cycle would start again.

Then in the story of Aphrodite, she has a lover whose name is Adonis and he is killed by the wild boar, and he goes to the underworld, and Aphrodite wants him back and she goes down there; and Persephone, who’s the queen of the underworld says, “No, you can’t have him; I want him for myself because he’s so beautiful,” and they get into a fight. And then, finally, Zeus is called into compromise, and he says, “Okay, girls, like half and half. Each of you get him half of each year.” So we have a continuity of the goddess associated with the planet Venus going into the underworld to interact with the issues associated with her lover and a compromise has to be affected for the same amount of time; and then, finally, you have Persephone herself who goes to the underworld and a deal is made for half and half. So in that we see a direct linkage of the Sumerian to the Babylonian to the Phoenician Greek myths of these goddesses who are connected with that planet.

CB: Okay, that’s really good. That makes sense. So one of the points you brought up—because we’re talking about Inanna/Ishtar—one of the things that that reminded me of that we should say is we’re often treating the Mesopotamian tradition—which was like an entire 2,000-year period before Hellenistic astrology—as if it’s monolithic, but it wasn’t; like a more careful treatment would separate out the different cultures and their different conceptualizations of these gods and what their continuity or discontinuity was like. For example, the earlier version of the Venus god in Mesopotamia was called ‘Inanna’, but then there was another culture that became prominent and their version of that was ‘Ishtar’; and while there was some overlap, there were also some major differences.

DG: Mm-hmm. And then you have in the Phoenician culture Astarte who became the Phoenician goddess of love; and the Phoenicians carried her worship across the Mediterranean, particularly to Cyprus, which is right off the Phoenician coast, where it’s one of the birthplaces of Aphrodite in the Greek pantheon.

CB: Okay. But this is important ‘cause it leads to one of the only few discontinuities with Venus, which is the earlier Sumerian culture—that called Venus Inanna—treated it more as a goddess of love, whereas the later Assyrian culture—which called Venus ‘Ishtar’—treated Venus more as a goddess of war especially.

DG: That was more emphasized.

CB: It was more emphasized, okay.

DG: More emphasized.

CB: ‘Cause the same myth of the descent of the goddess to the underworld exists with both Inanna and Ishtar.

DG: Yes.

CB: So there’s still continuity and stuff.

DG: Continuity. You’ll see different images of Venus, and in some of the Assyrian time periods she’s shown riding into battle and standing on lions; and in some of the depictions from Uruk—and a lot of times these aren’t identified when you’re looking at the images and books and stuff—but she’s holding her breasts and adorned with jewelry. They say as goddess of love she roused desire in all of the animals and living creatures, and there’s a portrayal by Homer of Aphrodite going up on Mount Ida in Turkey meeting her lover and she sees him; and as she races up the mountain all of the animals start having sex with one another; she’s that principle of the arousing of desire and she had many lovers. We see that with Aphrodite in the Greek culture, that she had many, many lovers; they tried to marry her off to Hephaestus but she wouldn’t have anything to do with that. And then when I get to Mars/Nergal, her relationship with Nergal was most important, and we’ll see that coming back into the descent myth. Nergal or Mars—who is her brother-in-law and married to her sister Ereshkigal, the queen of the underworld—supposedly in the Inanna myths, initially, she was going to attend his funeral; later on the mythology of Nergal gets encompassed into Mars as the god of war and he becomes Aphrodite’s main passionate affair.

CB: Okay, got it. You mentioned something here in the table of the difference between Evening Star and Morning Star. And it’s just interesting to me when this gets passed off. In the Mesopotamian tradition, we might have more of a notion of there being two sides to Venus—of there being this love, amorous side and then there being a potentially more warlike side to some extent—but when we’re doing just Aphrodite, Aphrodite gets flattened into more of just the ‘love side of things’. Although it’s interesting that in the Hellenistic tradition we do have the difference between Morning versus Evening Stars, and that Venus was thought to be sort of masculinized as a Morning Star but feminized as an Evening Star; so perhaps some of that earlier notion of those two sides of Venus from the Mesopotamian tradition is carried through in the astrological tradition through that distinction.

DG: Yeah. And at this point I want to say that some of the earliest work on Venus/Inanna came from Ronnie Dreyer who wrote the book Venus: The Goddess and the Planet back in the early 1990s. Ronnie’s now in the process of updating and revising that book, so I want to encourage people to watch for that publication; and I’m sure Ronnie will get into a lot of the more specific details around this issue that we’re talking about right now.

CB: Great. Okay, yeah, I read that when we were preparing for our “Inanna” episode last year and it was really good. All right, so is there anything else? Should we talk about the significations Valens gives?

DG: Yeah, you can. Sure.

CB: Okay, so in the ones you picked out, Valens says that Venus signifies ‘desire’, ‘erotic love’, ‘arts’, ‘gold’, ‘jewelry’, ‘festivities’, ‘precious stones’, ‘music’ ‘friendships’, ‘acquisition of belongings’, ‘weddings’, ‘painting’, ‘reconciliations for the good’.

DG: And when Venus came out each year as the Evening Star from behind her superior conjunction time—when she was mourning—they celebrated the sacred marriage, her reunion with Dumuzid who had come back from the underworld; and there was all this music and dancing and feasting and lovemaking in the streets going on. And so, ‘Evening Star’ Venus was especially connected with festivities and music and weddings and sacred marriage, right?

CB: Yeah, that actually comes up in some of Valens’ significations where he’s like: “Venus is desire and love and signifies mother and nurse,” but then later he says, “[the] wearing of gold ornaments, the wearing of crowns, merriment, friendships, companionship, pleasant sounds, music-making, sweet singing.” It’s very reminiscent of some of what you were talking about with those festivals.

DG: Yeah.

CB: All right, let’s move on then to Mars.

DG: Okay. And the planet we know as Mars was known as ‘Nergal’ to the Babylonians, and his name in Akkadian meant ‘to scorch’, which is like hot fire scorches; and our Mars is known as the hottest of the planets, the red planet.

CB: Right.

DG: And in the Mesopotamian mythology, he was associated with the underworld and the god of the dead, and he decided the fates of the dead; and he was also a god of war when death came by being inflicted upon you as opposed to just dying of disease or old age, of plague, of disease. He accompanied rulers on campaigns, and he also guaranteed peace due to his fearsome nature. Now he was known in Sumeria as Erra (E-r-r-a)—or I-r-r-a you may sometimes see it spelled—and there are three different stories of how he came to be the king of the underworld. Actually, I don’t have how they were layered chronologically now based on the discussion—there’s an impetus to do that—but one was that it was Ereshkigal, Inanna’s sister, who is the queen of the underworld, who demanded that Nergal be sent there to pay respects to someone who had died; and he was forced to descend and he was told, “Avoid all of these dangers,” but then there was one he didn’t avoid, which was having sex with her. And then the story goes after six days, he decided to leave, and while she was asleep he left and Ereshkigal demanded that the other gods convince him to return, and threatened to open up the gates of the underworld if she didn’t get her way; it seems like that was the ultimate threat that many of the gods had: “If you don’t do what I want, I’m gonna open the gates of the underworld and all of the dead are going to arise.” Then the second story was that initially Ereshkigal planned to kill Nergal but he turned against her and she suggested marriage so that they could share the rule. And then the third version is that he led a company of evil spirits into the underworld, forcing the queen Ereshkigal to marry him and appoint him sovereign of her kingdom as his price; so here we have three different versions of how he came to assume that role. Now what’s fascinating to me about that—if we jump over to the Greek side—is that we don’t see variations of this myth explicit with Ares, the Greek name for Mars, but we do see it with Hades or Pluto.

CB: Right. That’s what I was just thinking. It’s interesting—somebody made a choice there not to focus on the ‘underworld’ part but to focus on the ‘war’ part, or not somebody. I mean, our friend Philip of Opus evidently or those surrounding the Platonic Academy picked Ares here—the Greek god Ares, the God of War—to match with Nergal. This is where there could have been a divergence, where they could have picked Hades or Pluto as the name.

DG: Right. One of the theories around Pluto’s abduction of Persephone was that Zeus—when he became king—gave Pluto the underworld as his share of the rule, but Pluto couldn’t claim it because Demeter and Persephone already were the goddesses of the underworld. And so, the only way that Pluto could get it was to abduct Persephone, and by having had sex with her, she became honor-bound to have to marry him, and therefore that’s how he assumes his rulership. And Pluto and Mars share rulership of Scorpio, so there’s a way in which that is connected with the underworld; so we see the conflation of those two mythological gods archetypally and astrologically, so I thought that that was interesting.

But before we leave him, I want to say that in another one of his myths from Nineveh, it said he was waging war against Babylon, which was ruled by Marduk, and he kept escalating his acts of aggression; and the myth depicts the horrors of war focused upon humanity, the reign of terror, of destruction and him totally rolling over the voices of moderation and cosmic order. And it wasn’t until he heard the other gods acknowledging the power of his rage that he rescinded his war of terror upon the city and then used that as a way to keep peace by the threat of the might of his power and destruction, which is sort of our whole nuclear thing. We have all these nuclear bombs and missiles and warheads which are a symbol of the destructive power of Mars and/or Pluto; and this is how we’re gonna keep peace, by our threat that will totally vanquish you if you upset our rule and dominion. And so, this sort of goes back to the Mars/Pluto energy which is interesting because that peaked out earlier this week with Mars conjoining Pluto; so this energy here, Mars, and its associations with Pluto I feel are relevant to understanding the nature of Mars. And then in the Greek mythology, Mars was known for being the god of murder and terror and his lust for blood and destruction, and everyone hated him; even his father Zeus hated Mars. Here, in this story, we have Nergal trying to conquer Marduk who’s Jupiter or Zeus; so we have that rivalry between the two of them in both cultures, just like the stories of his violence and bloodthirstiness being totally common in both cultures.

CB: Right. That makes sense. And then we see that very clearly show up in the significations of Mars in the astrological tradition and Valens. Some of the significations you have picked out from Valens, Valens says Mars signifies ‘violence’, ‘war’, ‘adultery’, ‘plundering’, ‘anger’, ‘combat’, ‘enemies’, ‘bloodshed’, ‘iron’, ‘military generals’, ‘warriors’, ‘ruination of women’, ‘loss’, ‘banishment’, ‘sexual intercourse’, ‘breaches of friends’, ‘murder’, ‘imprisonment’.

DG: Right. So that seemed like a pretty obvious connection between the war and terror aspect of Nergal with the significations of the Greek Ares or Mars, and as you pointed out, them not pulling up his connection with the queen of the underworld.

CB: Right. Yeah, that makes sense and that’s really interesting. So we can see sometimes how the selection of certain myths pushes the interpretation in certain directions, but then there’s still other significations that are drawn out from connected archetypes that show up in the astrological tradition either through empirical means or through a connection of parallel archetypes and related sub-archetypes. All right, let’s move on to our last two really quick here. So, Jupiter.

DG: Okay, Jupiter was known as Marduk and sometimes also called Bel Marduk, and his story comes from the Enuma Elish, which is called The Epic of Creation. Scholarship dates that to the old Babylonian period, but recently some scholars are hedging on that and they think it might be a little bit later; but there continues to be enough scholarly dispute that it’s not clear how relatively early or late this epic is. And we have in the story that near the beginning of creation, there’s these two gods, Apsu who’s the primordial ocean and Tiamat who represents the tumultuous seas. Tiamat is represented as a serpent-skinned dragon who gives birth to all of these monsters and other creatures, and at a certain point some of the newer gods decide to have a revolt; and when she hears about it, she decides to wage war on them, so there’s a battle between an older generation of gods and a newer generation of gods. And Marduk is then entreated by the new gods to please come to their defense, and he’s known for his strength, and they say, “We want you to lead us in killing Tiamat.” And he says, “Well, I could, but I want you to promise me two things: one is that when I win, you’ll give me supreme authority over all the gods. I want to be the first in the pantheon of new rulers. And I want you to give me the Tablets of Fate (or the Tablets of Destiny) to decide.”

So these are his two conditions. And then he goes into battle with her and he slaughters her, and in her serpent dragon shape, he takes half of her and puts it up as the dome or the vault of the heavens, and he takes the other half of her and creates the firmament of the earth; and here we have a very interesting story relating to the nodes as being the dragon’s head and the dragon’s tail, and I’ll leave that story for other people to extrapolate ‘cause I don’t want to go there, but I just want to point that out. So we have the battle of the new gods against the old gods, and the old gods are represented by a dragon, serpent-like creature in the Mesopotamian myths. If we go over to the Greek myths, we have Zeus or Jupiter representing a newer generation of Olympian gods who are waging war against the older generation represented by the Titans, and their battle goes on for a long time; but at a certain point, Gaia, the old mother goddess, corresponding loosely to Tiamat, sends her serpent, the Typhoeus, to do battle with Zeus. And so, he has a whole battle with the serpent dragon figure, and then when he finally slays her, then this is when he proclaims his victory to become king of the new order of gods.

CB: Wow.

DG: And in the end, Marduk then ruled over a council of seven gods and Zeus is the ruling deity presiding over the council of Olympian gods. Marduk is portrayed as a storm god associated with lightning and thunder and winds and rain, and Zeus was a storm god holding the thunderbolt and associated with lightning; and whenever there were big storms happening his wife Hera, who is also connected with the air of the heavens, they would say, “Oh, Zeus and Hera are having a big fight up in the heavens, hence, the whole lightning and thunderstorm happening.” So whenever you saw storms or even rains happening it was a manifestation of Zeus occurring. So we have three main points of correspondence here: the fight against the earlier order of gods to achieve supremacy and the ‘dragon serpent’ motif, being the head god presiding over the council, and the decreers of fate—Zeus decided the fates of mortals, and he had pretty much leeway, except for the time of death; that was the one thing he couldn’t supersede, the decrees of the Moirai—and they were both storm gods, so we have that.

And then in the Enuma Elish, which is important, when his victory is proclaimed, he receives the 50 names of the previous god Enlil, who then falls into obscurity and Marduk overtakes him. And then he organizes the world, Marduk brought order back out of chaos, Marduk constructs dwelling places for the great gods in the sky, installs the stars as their images, fixes the length of the year, orders the month according to the Moon’s changes and regulates the course of the heavenly bodies; and then he created humanity—this is Marduk—the rivers, vegetation, and animals; so we have a creation story. Marduk’s father was Ea, the god of waters, and Marduk also represented a god of the fertility of the waters flowing through the land and increasing its productivity and vegetation through the water element. And so, one of the things that I don’t quite know what to do with is it was Marduk who was responsible for setting into place the articulation of an astral theology, of setting the gods in the sky and fixing their homes as the stations of the constellations and regulating the year and the months. I wonder—just staying within the Babylonian mythology—as astrology came to assume an increasing prominence as the main mode of divination, if it was the ascendancy of Marduk that was happening at the same time and that’s how those two got woven into the mix. I don’t know, but this is something I just started thinking about in the last 24 hours.

CB: Okay. Yeah, that makes sense.

DG: Oh, and because he was a god of fertility—and particularly the fertilizing action of waters out making plants grow and such—I was wondering if that had anything to do with Jupiter’s exaltation in the sign of Cancer, if there was any thread that could be woven in there.

CB: Yeah, you had mentioned something about the Mesopotamian tradition—or one of the traditions—of Mars fighting with Jupiter, when we were talking about Mars just now, and it made me think of the exaltations and Mars being opposite Jupiter.

DG: Yes.

CB: I don’t know. I don’t know where to go with that or where to take that. I mean, it’s also interesting—again, with that difference between which gods you pick—that Jupiter would be one of the highest gods versus Mars being the god of the underworld in the earlier Mesopotamian tradition in an opposition there in some sense.

DG: Mm-hmm. But I think that the correlations between Marduk and Zeus are very, very striking, of essentially having the same story.

CB: Yeah, this is probably one of the closest match-ups here, Jupiter is.

DG: Mm-hmm.

CB: And then that follows through very closely into the astrological meaning of Jupiter pretty well in Valens as well, right?

DG: Yeah.

CB: So some some of the significations you give for Valens are the ‘beginning of children’, ‘erotic love’, ‘alliances’, ‘knowledge’, ‘abundance’, ‘justice’, ‘sovereignty’, ‘mediation of disputes’, ‘confirmation of good things’, ‘friendship with great men’, ‘great gifts’, ‘freedom’, ‘deliverance from evils’, ‘trusts and inheritances’.

DG: Yeah.

CB: Yeah, and I think you had mentioned all the myths about Jupiter or about Zeus and one of the first ones is the ‘begetting of children’ with Valens, right?

DG: Yes.

CB: Okay.

DG: And Zeus had so many affairs, he had just dozens and dozens and dozens of children; and perhaps one of the reasons he, in Hellenistic astrology, is associated with children is because of his incredibly ‘procreatively-fertile’ nature.

CB: Okay. Yeah, and prolific.

DG: Mm-hmm.

CB: All right, I’m just gonna quickly flash the full translation of the significations from my book of Jupiter. Yeah, that’s literally the very first signification that Valens gives, the ‘begetting of children’ and ‘child birth’. And then there’s the rest, just for those watching the video version, if you want to glance at it. All right, let’s move on to Saturn now.

DG: Okay. And Saturn was known by the Babylonians as Ninurta (N-i-n-u-r-t-a) and Ningirsu by the Sumerians, and he was a lord of agriculture. He was called ‘Lord of Barley, who was the god of agriculture, and gave advice to farmers. I thought that it was interesting that Saturn or Kronos—and especially Saturn—was connected with agriculture, and his symbol was the scythe by which he harvested the grain, and so we see that. And in the Greek mythology, Saturn or Kronos ruled over the ‘golden age’ at one point in time, which was an age when everyone had plenty of food to eat, crops were abundant, and there was no hunger or famine; so we have that theme of agricultural abundance and fertility showing up with this planet across cultures. And then in the Babylonian, he was also known as the god of irrigation which connected with the agricultural fertility, and it was said that he took all these stones and move them about and he created the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers by harnessing and directing the waters, and then from those two rivers, Mesopotamia is known as the ‘Land Between the Two Rivers’, the two rivers that come up into the middle of the area; and through all the canals that were, likewise, built with stones, this is how he brought irrigation to all of the fields and created the agricultural abundance.

And there is a story that he got into some kind of fight against enemies and all the stones became his allies and came to his assistance. And so, I thought that it was particularly interesting that we have the connection with Saturn and Kronos with rocks and stones, stones used as boundary-markers, and Saturn’s connection with making boundaries. Even in the myth that we’ll get to of when Saturn’s children were born, his wife Rhea—Saturn would eat his children—when baby Zeus was born, wrapped up a stone in a swaddling blanket and gave it to him to swallow instead of the baby; so we have a whole motif of the ‘stone’ theme coming through the myths. Also, in this early time period, he was the god of healing, and it was said that he cured humans from sicknesses by releasing them from demons. And what that sparked in my mind was that the 12th house became the ‘house of the evil daimon’ where Saturn or Kronos had his joy, and it was a house of illnesses, chronic illnesses, and also the house of demons; and so I thought that that could be developed into a couple of lines or paragraphs of his connection there.

Now we can see a loose correlation there, but what makes the correlation infinitely more interesting is if we move to the north of Assyria and get into the eastern part of Asia Minor, we get into the country that in ancient times was ruled by the Hittites, and before them a culture called the Hurrians (H-u-r-r-i-a-n-s). In that mythology, the Hurrian deity, Kumarbi, bit off the genitals of his father and conceived children who were his enemies, and he swallowed them; and in Greek mythology, Kronos, who’s Saturn, is called on by his mother Gaia to avenge her against his father Ouranos by taking his scythe and whacking off the genitals of his father Ouranos. So both of these gods are killing their father by castrating him and then giving birth to children whom they fear will supersede him, and they swallow them.

CB: Right.

DG: Then son, Kumarbi’s son, Teshub, gathers together other gods and engages in a struggle against their father and eventually disposes him, and that’s exactly what Zeus/Jupiter does; he liberates all of his swallowed brothers and sisters who come up and join forces to overthrow Kronos or Saturn. And the Hittites’ cuneiform texts of astrological omens were found in the land of the Hittites in the first millennium BCE, so this culture had not only contact with the Assyrians but contact through the astrology. So we see a development of the myth of Ninurta in Babylonia-Assyria as a god of agriculture and irrigation flow into the myths of the Hittites and the Hurrians as a god who castrates his father, gives birth to these children who he devours, and the children rise up against him and conquer him; and between those two cultures we have the replication of the significations of Kronos and Saturn in Greek and Roman mythology.

CB: Yeah, that’s really good. And then there’s like a through-line eventually which explains some of the significations that Valens give that otherwise don’t make a ton of sense, but that we see in Valens as echoes of some of that. So let me read, first, the significations that you give in your book as part of that comparison. So Valens says that Saturn is ‘solitary’, ‘deceitful’, ‘miserable’, ‘violent actions’, ‘depressions’, ‘long-lasting punishments’, ‘tears’, ‘accusations’, ‘concealments’, ‘captivity’, ‘childlessness’, ‘orphanhood’, ‘laborers and farmers’, ‘authority over the earth’, ‘tax and custom collectors’, and ‘forced activities’.

DG: And then I feel badly that somehow the ‘navigation’ and ‘seafaring trades’ got left out of this list that is in the full list.

CB: That’s okay. Here’s the full list from my book where I just tried to translate all of these and then footnote all the different possible interpretations of each signification. Here it is. He says Saturn is “given to seafaring, practicing waterside trades.” So there’s this whole water association with Saturn and waterside trades and seafaring, in addition to the ‘farming and farmers’ one where it says, “Saturn makes farmers and gardeners because he rules the soil,” so it’s like there’s this weird continuation. It’s like most of the significations that Valens is giving are very negative for Saturn, and then he throws in these curve balls that’s like ‘farming and waterside trades’, but then if you go back to some of those myths, you see this interesting through-line between the cultures.

DG: Did Philip of Opus totally know the Hittite-Hurrian myths when he said, “Oh, I think this planet Ninurta should be connected with the star of Kronos?” I don’t know how intimate his knowledge was of the myths that were connected with the Babylonian gods; nevertheless, whether it was he or whoever gave the name of the star of Kronos to that planet, there are those mythic correspondences.

CB: Yeah. And one of the other correspondences I was thinking of when you were talking about the succession from Uranus being the father originally and then Saturn overthrowing him, and then eventually Saturn being overthrown by Jupiter is one of the cute things that Philip of Opus or whoever created that scheme did is the planetary spheres. This is a diagram—for those watching the video version—that shows more of the Hellenistic order of the spheres before. Nonetheless, even in Philip and Plato’s time period, the last spheres of Jupiter and Saturn were always the outer ones, because those are the slowest of the visible planets, but Philip created this. It’s been commented that there’s this order where there’s the sphere of Jupiter and then above that is the sphere of Saturn and then above that is the sphere of the fixed stars. What’s interesting is that Philip refers to the sphere of the fixed stars with different names, but at one point he refers to the sphere of the fixed stars as Uranus or Ouranos; which creates an interesting sequence where it’s like Uranus, then Saturn, and then Jupiter. So that primordial sequence of the different founders or fathers who were overthrowing each other is perfectly replicated in this model or in this order of the planets as the names were assigned to them by Philip and his contemporaries, and there’s something pretty striking about that.

DG: Definitely.

CB: Definitely. All right, well, I would like to take another break, and then we can come back and sort of conclude things. Is there anything you want to say now before we take a break?

DG: No.

CB: Okay, good. All right, let’s take a break.


CB: Okay, so we’re back from break. Let’s conclude this and bring this home with just a few points that we’re gonna go through very quickly to wrap things up. So I think our conclusion from this is the mythology did clearly play some role in Philip of Opus—or whatever contemporary of his—deciding to choose certain Greek myths to match with certain earlier Mesopotamian myths, and I feel like that’s pretty clear at this point, right?

DG: Right. There’s a good argument that can be made for that. Definitely, if one wanted to argue that position there is a lot of evidence that could be brought up.

CB: Sure. And that doesn’t exclude other considerations, like astronomical and symbolic considerations, and that, combined with the fact that Philip himself mentions and gives acknowledgment to what he calls ‘the Syrians’, broadly referring to the Mesopotamians or the Persian culture that was in control of that area of ‘Syria’ at that time. To the extent that he’s acknowledging that, I think his acknowledgment is not fake, it’s not false; it’s actually genuine to some extent.

DG: Right. He indicated that it was. He says ‘the Syrians’ or the Assyrians gave the names to the planets.

CB: Right. So we have Philip adapting the Mesopotamian names of the planets and gods to Greek names of the planets, at the same time his contemporary, Eudoxus is supposed to have been one of the people who set the Greek names for the signs of the zodiac, because the other things that the Greeks were inheriting from the Mesopotamians at this time was the 12-sign zodiac, which had only been standardized by the 5th century BCE. So like a century earlier in Mesopotamia, the zodiac starts showing up at this time, also, with its first real mentions in the contemporaries of Plato and his students, including Aristotle and Eudoxus. So Eudoxus, though, seems to have taken the Mesopotamian names for the signs of the zodiac that were used for those constellations and then put those names in Greek basically in a pretty straightforward manner.

DG: Exactly. You had the Babylonians signifying the ‘Great Twins’, you had the Babylonian constellation, ‘The Lion’, you had the Babylonian constellation ‘The Bull’, and there’s a list of many of them. So his assignment of the Greek names were simply the equivalents of the words for ‘lion’, ‘bull’, ‘twins’, and so on.

CB: Right. Even Capricorn—which is this weird goat-fish in the Mesopotamian tradition—in Greek, the word means ‘The Goat-Horned One’, so that means there was also an adaptation taking place there. We have this story, like I said, of Plato being visited by a Chaldean or a Mesopotamian sometime late in his life; and some of the scholars I’ve been reading recently think that that story comes from Philip of Opus himself in the terms of the reason why that was preserved. And even aside from that, in subsequent centuries, we know that a few decades later after Alexander the Great took an army of Greeks and Macedonians out of Greece and stormed through and took over most of the Middle East and Persia and Mesopotamia and Egypt, we know that after that point there was a lot more interaction and traveling and immigration between Greek and Mesopotamian cultures, which then sped up even further the spread of Mesopotamian and Egyptian astrology and the merging with Greek culture and thought in the Hellenistic era. Like all that immigration and interaction between cultures did not just start at that point, it just accelerated at that point, but there were already interactions going on between Egypt and Mesopotamia and Greece in this period, around the time of Plato’s Academy and his successors.

DG: Yes. Definitely during the rule of the Persians—who had conquered the Assyrians—there was a Persian influence in Egypt when they extended their rule going into Egypt, and that was a time when some of the earliest eclipse omens material came into Egypt from Persia during the reigns of Ashurbanipal and Esarhaddon, and then a second time with Darius. The Persians had also made incursions into Greece with Xerxes, and there was a whole delegation of Persians who occupied Thessaly who were welcomed as allies for a period of a year; and so there were places where the Persian culture had significant interactions with both Greece and Egypt from an early time period.

CB: Right, for sure. And then, finally, Proclus makes a reference to him at one point—the later philosopher Proclus—and he said that Philip was “a disciple of Plato and induced by Plato to study mathematics, conducting research at Plato’s suggestions, and set himself the task of giving completeness to Plato’s philosophy.” And when you read the Epinomis—we’ve been talking about the planetary assignments—there was a broader program in the Epinomis where Philip introduces the idea of the heavenly bodies (the Sun and Moon and planets) as gods or as divine beings that also have souls and an intellect, as well as the notion of the cosmos itself being a god and being alive and intelligent and having a soul as well. Philip, to some extent, may have thought he was carrying on certain things from late in Plato’s life and work and bringing some of that work to completion, and then Philip’s work itself set up a new paradigm that would be carried forward at that point. So one of the quotes I wanted to read is a quote from an article I was reading by a scholar named John Dillon who’s talking about Philip of Opus. So he says: “It seems clear enough that for Philip, and, in his mind, for his master Plato as well, certainly in the Laws, but perhaps going back as far as the Republic and the Timaeus, [that] the supreme principle in the universe [was] a rational World Soul, eminent in the cosmos, and residing most particularly in the sphere of the fixed stars. The study of astronomy is therefore the contemplation of the structure and workings of God’s mind. It is this that teaches us the wonders of number, and it is that, in turn, which endows us with wisdom, phronesis.” So this is from an article by John Dillon titled, “The World Soul Takes Command.” And I thought that was really important because it sets up a paradigm where in looking at the cosmos and contemplating the cosmos and the movement of the planets that you’re literally looking at in some ways the structure and working of God’s mind, to the extent that God is the cosmos itself and is alive with wisdom and reason. And even if Philip himself wasn’t taking that in an explicitly philosophical or astrological direction, we can see how later astrologers would have done so potentially or could have done so.

DG: That’s what we were alluding to before, that the pre-Socratic and classical philosophers had laid a philosophic foundation into place that would allow for the study of astrology once it started coming in full force after Alexander’s conquest.

CB: Right, for sure.

DG: We can do this like what Plato said allows us to go there; if they were thinking in that way they would have found a philosophical justification or permission for them to continue their studies in that direction.

CB: Right, for sure. And then some of that feeds into the Stoic tradition where it was passed on. So one of the realizations that I had actually just this morning as I was doing my last minute preparation is that at the beginning of the Hellenistic tradition—which most scholars think was developed sometime around the 2nd century BCE with a collection of early foundational texts attributed to mythical or legendary figures like Hermes Trismegistus or Asclepius or Nechepso and Petosiris—there were a set of early manuals that introduced some of the basic conceptual structures and conceptual constructs of astrology that all subsequent astrologers have used, and that a lot of this was based around conceptual models such as the Thema Mundi, which was said to be the mythical birth chart for the birth of the cosmos.

And one of the things I realized today is that the Thema Mundi and things surrounding it was probably originally presented as a conceptual construct, but it was also probably presented in the form of a myth in the same way and following in the same tradition as Plato introducing these myths in order to explain basic philosophical or important philosophical principles as well as the structure of the cosmos and other things like that. So I wrote: “In the same tradition of Plato’s myths in the Timaeus and Republic, the Thema Mundi potentially could have been a myth about the birth of God in the cosmos, which also incidentally explains the allotment of the celestial gods and how they received their apportionment. Just as they in turn will act as a celestial council that will render verdicts about the fate of each individual life and what the outcome will be of the choice of birth that they selected, the choice of incarnating at that moment then necessarily results in certain outcomes due to the conditional nature of fate as a law, which is a concept from Plato.”

So one of my points here what I’m finding and what we’re starting to uncover and learn is that Platonism may have had a much larger impact on Hellenistic astrology than it might seem at first, especially because we’re so used to looking at the surviving source texts—which are mainly later, from the 1st and 2nd century—and are influenced by Stoic ethics. But at some earlier stage, we have to understand that some of these earlier Hellenistic constructs would have been very much influenced and drawn on, or at least aware of, conceptual ideas or philosophical texts like Plato and the Timaeus and the Republic and ‘The Myth of Er’, as well as other Platonic dialogues and ideas. And especially with Philip taking that next step in the Epinomis, that really starts pushing it in a direction that starts looking much more clearer about what we know about Hellenistic astrology. And there’s something really important about that that I’m still working out, but it seems like we’re getting somewhere really interesting at this point in terms of a connection between Plato’s Academy and the eventual development of Hellenistic astrology.

DG: Right. I mean, this notion that the early formulators of Hellenistic astrology had some training in Greek philosophy certainly has been discussed since the early days of the translation of the texts. And we could go into the establishment of the city of Alexandria and the Alexandrian library and museum that was not a collector’s haven but a think tank for Greek philosophers, and so there was a culture, a milieu of persons of knowledge being familiar with the philosophical ideas of the time that were also involved in the formulation of astrological principles. And of course to that you can’t rule out the participation of the Egyptian priesthood either. One of the Ptolemaic kings, Ptolemy VIII, was in particular a lover of all things Egyptian; and when he came to rule he gave a lot of money for the rebuilding of the Egyptian temples, opening up in Alexandria the museum for Egyptian priests to participate in the studies, so that there was a whole Greco-Egyptian intelligentsia that had training in Greek philosophy. So your notion that the philosophy of Plato and of Platonism would have been influential is something that Schmidt talked about, but definitely we’re coming to the place of seeing and establishing more of the connectors with that notion.

CB: Yeah. And we also see that clearly in the Hermetic philosophical text, the so-called ‘philosophical’ Hermetica, like the very first one of the Corpus Hermeticum, the Poimandres, which all the scholars agree shares all these influences of Platonism and Stoicism and also native Egyptian philosophical and religious concepts at the same time that’s been blended together, so that there’s already evidence of that there; but one of the points is that it’s also in the astrological texts themselves or the ‘technical’ Hermetica. And while I don’t think I agree with Schmidt’s conclusion about who the founder of Hellenistic astrology was and don’t necessarily want to get into that now, I’m at least much more open to and am seeing the influence of the Platonic tradition much earlier. Having the realization that they started becoming much more aware of astrology, and that it started being discussed in Greek culture that early, I think creates a much more longer timeline for the development of Hellenistic astrology than maybe was fully acknowledged before, since the evidence doesn’t start to show up until the 2nd or 1st century BCE.

And the last point is just that there were also Chaldean astrologers that started traveling to Greece and settling there. I saw this quote from Alexander Jones that he gave in a lecture recently; it was a lecture you can see on YouTube titled, “Trying Out the Babylonian Numbers: Transformations of Mesopotamian Astral Science in the Mediterranean World.” And this is from an inscription, he said, that was found at Larissa from the 2nd century BCE in Greek; so the Greek city of Larissa. It says: “Since Antipatros, son of Antipatros of Hierapolis in Selukis, who has been granted citizenship in Homolion, being a Chaldaios astronomos [a Chaldean astronomer or Chaldean astrologer potentially], who has lived in our city for a long time, and during his time of dwelling here has shown himself worthy of our city and of his homeland, and [he] has freely bestowed the knowledge, [the mathesis, which also means ‘science] in which he participates…,” but then the text of course breaks off; but basically it’s a Greek inscription from the 2nd century BCE where this Greek city is acknowledging and thanking this Chaldean astronomer and astrologer who has come to their city and has shared his science and his knowledge of Chaldean astronomy and astrology with them. While that’s from the 2nd century BCE, it’s just evidence of probably something that was happening much more widely—probably even going back to Plato’s time, where we have that story of a Chaldean visiting him late in his life—in terms of these interactions between Greek and Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures and then the cultural synthesis eventually producing Hellenistic astrology at some point over the next few centuries.

DG: Right. So there were many places: Berossus from Babylonia going into Greece and opening up a school of astrology in Kos, a number of Chaldean astrologers that were astrologers to kings on the coast of Asia Minor. We have records of Chaldeans coming into Rome, Chaldean astrologers coming into Rome, and as early as 139 BC, there was some legislation against them. So there is a whole presence of the Mesopotamian astrological tradition coming into the lands occupied by the Greeks and Romans during the early centuries BC.

CB: Right. And mythology, though, is one of the sources of the transmission of that knowledge, and it’s one that shouldn’t be overlooked and is still important and relevant to this day, and I think that’s the final piece to leave people on that you really emphasize.

DG: Yeah. We had this brief discussion last night that we’re not clear if the Babylonians thought the planets were their gods, per se, or simply the vehicles through which their gods communicated to them. In the assignment of the planets by Plato and Philip in Greek astrology, they call it ‘the star of Hermes’ or ‘the star of Aphrodite’; and so they aren’t exactly saying that the planets are the gods, but that what the planets represent are under the umbrella of the spheres of influence of the gods. There was this very tenuous shaky position around putting total divinity into the planets themselves—conflicting not only with traditional Greek religion and the worship of the Olympian gods for which Socrates got in trouble with for teaching about the new gods, who may have well been the planets—but astrology encountered this as well in the shift toward Christianity with the pagan gods coming into conflict with the one god. And we even see when the emperors were setting themselves up as gods themselves, the astrologers were cautious not to want to get into battles over the planets being divinities, so that they wouldn’t incur the wrath of the emperors. So there’s this very careful treading in all of the cultures between, on the one hand, the acknowledgment of the divinity of the gods, and yet not being able to go as far as wanting to say that the planets themselves are the gods; and you can see the tension that exists throughout the entire tradition that of course is part and parcel of the mythology being the stories of the gods and how that links with how closely they want to be identified with the planets.

CB: Yeah, that’s great. And then to bring things full-circle, myth just means story, and myths are connected with religion and religious belief, but they’re also attempts to explain the natural world; and myths can also address how the cosmos is organized and how humans are supposed to act in terms of ethics which creates a lot of overlap with both the philosophers as well as the ancient natural scientists; some later thinkers would attempt to rationalize myths or treat them as allegories that had deeper meanings. And part of what Plato did with his dialogues—especially his later ones—is he started creating his own myths. The Timaeus and ‘The Myth of Er’ are new myths that incorporate older themes and figures—such as the 3 Fates, the Moirai—but they apply them in a way that’s consistent with Plato’s philosophical paradigm and beliefs, which includes scientific speculations on astronomy and mathematics; and I believe that this is what the Hellenistic astrologers and the founders of Hellenistic astrology eventually did themselves in continuing that tradition from Plato.

And even to this day, Leisa Schaim pointed out to me recently that we have current stories that we tell ourselves that explain the universe, like the Big Bang, which is a scientific theory, but it’s our current best understanding of the universe; it’s also wrapped up in larger stories or narratives about how our cosmos begin and where we came from. So we continue to make myths and tell stories today and some of those might be up for revision at different points in the future, but those stories are important to us culturally, both scientifically and religiously, just as they were to the ancients.

All right, I think that’s a good stopping point. So thank you so much for joining me for this. This was amazing. This was a really intense period of research for both of us. I’m super glad we did this. Thank you so much for doing this with me, it felt really important.

DG: Right. It’s always wonderful to be able to collaborate with you. It’s very exciting moments in the ongoing studies that we’re both involved with.

CB: Yeah, same here. It’s one of my favorite things that I feel the most fortunate about in my life. Okay, you have an event coming up that I wanted to mention. You’re actually doing a retreat on the Hellenistic time-lord techniques that’s coming up later this year, right?

DG: Yes, it will be a five-day event. It’ll take place in mid-June. You have the dates June 13-17? Is that what you have?

CB: Yes, correct. June 13-17, 2024, in Longmont, Colorado.

DG: Right. And I had been asked by some students to repeat the teaching, so I am. It’ll be sponsored through Astrology University. It’ll be an in-person retreat. And I’ll be teaching planetary periods and ascensional times of the signs, circumambulations and directions through the bounds, zodiacal releasing from the Lots of Fortune and Spirit, annual profections and the Hellenistic solar return. And by the fifth day, I’d like to touch upon Ptolemy’s ‘Seven Ages of Man’ and give the instructions and procedures for how to do these techniques and where you can get the calculations to start incorporating them into your practice if you want. There’s a workbook that we will be printing up and there will be time not only for morning lectures but also small group work presentations, time to work on your own chart, question and answer periods, and reading from the text themselves of the sections that we’ve been working on. Jokingly, the word ‘intensive’ should really be substituted for ‘retreat’, but it promises to be a very exciting immersion experience. So you can just put in ‘Hellenistic time-lord retreat’, my name ‘Demetra George’ in your search engine and you’ll get to the link where you can find out more information and register.

CB: Yeah. And I’ll put a link to the registration page which is at astrologyuniversity.com. I’ll put a link to it in the description below this video or on the podcast website in the description for this episode, so people can go there directly if they want as well. Otherwise, that sounds like an awesome event; so, yeah, have a great time with it. And I’ll see you here in Colorado when you visit.

DG: Yeah, we can definitely make a plan to connect then.

CB: All right, cool. Thank you so much for joining me today, I appreciate it.

DG: Goodbye, everyone.

CB: All right, thanks everyone for watching or listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast, and I’ll see you again next time.


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