Star-Lore, part 2. 100 Places at which Mark's Gospel Reflects the Constellations

Part 2

100 Places at which Mark’s Gospel Reflects the Constellations

Why did not somebody teach me the constellations, and make me at home in the starry heavens, which are always overhead, and which I don't half know to this day? (Thomas Carlyle)

(There are numerous websites which give the traditional associations of each of the zodiac signs. Here is one of the most complete Check it and see that I am not making these associations up!)

Aries 1:1-3:35 (Associated with the Ram, Mars, lambs, beginnings, fire, fever, burns, simplicity, austerity, the head, the leader, the top, the roof, confrontation, challenge, deserted places, wildness, the wilderness, mountain tops). Nearby constellations: Cassiopeia (The Reclining Woman), Perseus (The Bridegroom).

1.     Aries, the first springtime sign, concerns new beginnings, new life. The very first word
of the Gospel is beginning (Ἀρχὴ). It doesn’t even have a definite article to stop it from being the first word!
2.     The Babylonians called Aries ‘Lu Hunga’ The Hired Man. James and John leave their father with the hired men (Mk 1:20). Matthew (4:22) and Luke (5:10-11) have the same story but neither mentions the hired men.
Contrary to its name, the Hired Man was represented in the heavens by the familiar ram or lamb of Aries. As a seasonal symbol the lamb reflects the fact that a majority of newborn lambs, kids and calves appear in the cattle-fold in the springtime. On the other hand, the name of the Hired Man refers to the hired labour used to bring in the springtime barley harvest.  (White, Babylonian Star Lore, page 28)
3.     Aries is associated with the head and with the tops of things. This section of Mark contains the memorable story of the paralytic lowered through the roof (Mk 2:1-12).
4.     The call of the twelve apostles symbolises a new beginning, a New Israel (Mk 3:13-19).
5.     The call takes place on a mountain.
6.     John the Baptist appears in this section (Mk 1:4). Eventually – in what is a narrative ‘flashback’ (6:14-29) -, he will lose his head. According to Ptolemy (Tetrabiblos IV, 9), Algol, a prominent star in the nearby constellation Perseus, was associated with beheading (αποκεφλιζομνους). Josephus mentions the death of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod but he doesn’t say he was beheaded (Josephus, Antiquities, 18: 5, 2).
7.   Algol was known as Rosh ha Satan (Satan’s Head) to the Hebrews (Allen, page 332),[1]and was considered the most malignant star in the heavens. Satan is mentioned six times in Mark, four of them in the Aries section.
8.    Wild places and wild beasts are associated with Aries. John the Baptist appears ‘in the wilderness’ (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ). He is dressed in a garment of camel hair with a leather girdle around his waist, and he eats locusts and wild honey. His dress and diet reflect the simplicity and austerity associated with Aries.

John the Baptist calls Jesus ‘the Lamb of God’ in the Fourth Gospel (Jn 1:35).

In both Matthew (3:11)  and Luke (3:16), John the Baptist says that Jesus will baptise with the holy spirit and with fire. This is appropriate to the Fire sign Aries, but Mark does not have this.

9.     Jesus goes into the wilderness ‘with the wild beasts’ (μετὰ τῶν θηρίωνto be tempted by Satan (Mk 1:12-13)
10.  … and to pray ((Mk 1:35).
11.  Jesus cures Simon’s Mother-in-Law (Mk 1:30-31), who was suffering from a fever, a condition associated with Aries and Mars.
12.  The text says that she was ‘reclining’ with a fever (κατέκειτο πυρέσσουσα). This is a clever reference to Cassiopeia, The Reclining Woman, a constellation close by Aries. The word translated ‘fever’ is from the Greek root πύρ (pur) which means ‘fire’. She was ‘burning up’ and so no doubt had a rose-coloured face, which is what the name ‘Cassiopeia’ is said to mean in Phoenician.[2]

In Matthew’s Gospel (Mtt 8:14), she is Peter’s mother-in-law. ‘Peter’ (Πέτρος)  means ‘rock’, so Peter’s wife is ‘chained to the rock’(!), just as Cassiopeia’s daughter, Andromeda, was ‘chained to the rock’ before being rescued by Perseus, who married her. Thus he became the constellation which Aratus referred to as the Bridegroom (γαμβρος).[3]

Andromeda Chained to the Rock by the Nereids, 1840,
Théodore Chassériau

13.  Jesus refers to himself as ‘the bridegroom’ (Mark 2:19).[4]
14.  Aries is associated with newness. The adjective ‘new’ (καινός, ή, όν) is used six times in this section, most of them in the teaching on new wine in new wineskins (Mk 2:21-22).
15.  Aries, ‘ruled’ by Mars, is associated with confrontation. In this section, Jesus confronts evil spirits (Mk 1:21-26);
16.   … and Satan (Mk 1:13),
17.  … and the teachers of the law (Mk 2:16-17).
18.  He so antagonises the Pharisees and the Herodians that they make plans to kill him (Mk 3:6).
19.  Aries is associated with impulsive behaviour. Simon and Andrew leave their nets and follow Jesus without a second thought (Mk 1:17-18).
20.  …as do James and John (Mk 1:19-20)
21.  …and Levi (Mk 2:14).

In Matthew’s Gospel, in a passage following closely on the cure of Peter’s mother-in-law, Jesus tells a teacher of the law who wants to follow him, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head’ (Mtt 8:20). Was this reference to the head part of the Aries section of an earlier ultra-constellational document?

Taurus 4:1-4:34. (Associated with the Bull, Venus, the earth, the neck, persistence, stubbornness, farming, growth, light.)

22.  Taurus is the first of the Earth signs and was associated with farming, growth, abundance. The Pleiades (a beautiful asterism in Taurus) was connected with seeding-time. Virgil alludes to this in his First Georgic:
Some that before the fall o’th’ Pleiades
Began to sowe, deceaved in the increase
Have reapt wilde oats for wheate.[5]
How appropriate then, that in this section we find the Parable of the Sower (Mk 4: 1- 20).
23.  The Greek word for ‘earth’ (ἡ γῆ) is used nine times in this section, and is variously translated as earth, ground, soil. The Roman astrological poet, Manilius, equates this constellation with farming in general:
                 Dull honest Plowmen to manure the Field
                 Strong Taurus bears, by him the Grounds are till'd'
                 No gaudy things he breeds, no Prize for worth,
                 But Blessed Earth, and brings her Labour forth;
                 He takes the Yoke, nor doth the Plough disdain,
                 And teacheth Farmers to manure the Plain:[6]
So, it is appropriate that in this section we also find the Parable of the Growing Seed (Mk 4:26-29).
24.  …and the Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mk 4:30-32).
25.  Because Taurus is the most spectacular of the zodiacal constellations, (it contains two beautiful asterisms - the Hyades and the Pleiades – plus Aldebaran, the ninth brightest star in the heavens) it was associated with light by the ancients, and was called The Bull of Light by the Egyptians. The Hindus pictured the Pleiades as a Flame ‘and held their great star-festival Diwali, the Feast of Lamps, in the Pleiad month, Kartik.’[7] Hence the parable of the lamp occurs in this section (Mk 4: 21).
Aldebaran was called Oculus Tauri, the Bull’s Eye.[8] Immediately after his version of the parable of the Lamp, Luke adds: Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body is full of light. But when they are bad your whole body is full of darkness (Lk 11:34).
26.  One of the stars of the Pleiades was said to be ‘hidden’, some people saying they could see six stars, others saying they could see seven. Erastosthenes called the Pleiades Pleias Eptasteros, the ‘Seven Starred Pleiad’, although he said that one of them was panaphanes  - ‘all invisible’.[9]  Hence Jesus’s saying, ‘Nothing will be hidden that will not be revealed’ (Mk 4:22) .
The Pleiades was commonly described as ‘a hen with her chickens’,[10] an expression Jesus uses, not in Mark, but in Matthew and Luke. It occurs in Luke, just after Luke’s version of the Parable of the Mustard Seed  (Lk 13:34).

27.  One of the virtues associated with Taurus is persistence. This is the primary lesson of the Parable of the Sower.
28.  Mark implies that he was selecting from the ‘many similar parables’ that Jesus used (Mk 4:33), but he only chooses to include those that reflect Taurus.

Gemini 4:35-6:29 (The Twins, associated with Mercury, Air, the wind, duality, halves, fragmentation, close relatives, neighbours and neighbourhood, vacillation, communication). Nearby constellations: Orion, Canis Major (Big Dog), Canis Minor (Little Dog).

29.  This section opens with the Calming of the Windstorm (Mk 4:35-42). In the ancient world, Castor and Pollux, the twin stars of Gemini, were the patrons of seafarers. Sailors would pray to them when in distress on the sea. In this passage, the apostles pray to Jesus. Here’s part of the Homeric hymn to Castor and Pollux:
                 Ye wild‑eyed muses! sing the Twins of Jove,
                 .................. mild Pollux, void of blame,
                 And steed‑subduing Castor, heirs of fame.
                 These are the Powers who earth‑born mortals save
                 And ships, whose flight is swift along the wave.
                 When wintry tempests o'er the savage sea
                 Are raging, and the sailors tremblingly
                 Call on the Twins of Jove with prayers and vow,
                 Gathered in fear upon the lofty prow,
                 And sacrifice with snow‑white lambs, the wind
                 And the huge billow bursting close behind,
                 Even then beneath the weltering waters bear
                 The staggering ship ‑ they suddenly appear,
                 On yellow wings rushing athwart the sky,
                 And lull the blasts in mute tranquillity,
                 And strew the waves on the white ocean's bed,
                 Fair omen of the voyage; from toil and dread,
                 The sailors rest rejoicing in the sight,
                 And plough the quiet sea in safe delight.[11]
                 (Translation by Shelley. Allen, pages 227-8)
30.  Mark uses the term laelaps (λαῖλαψ) to describe the type of storm the apostles experienced. Laelaps was the faithful dog of Orion, a constellation close by Gemini. Matthew uses the word seismos (σεισμὸς) (Mtt 8:24) which ‘as often in Greek writings from Sophocles, Aristophanes, down, is pre-eminently an earthquake’ (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). But Mark and Luke (Lk 8:23) use laelaps, which more specifically means a windstorm, and so is more readily related to the Air Sign, Gemini.
Laelaps is never a single gust, nor a steadily blowing wind, however violent; but a storm breaking forth from black thunder-clouds in furious gusts, with floods of rain, and throwing everything topsy-turvy. According to Aristotle it is 'a whirlwind revolving from below upward.' (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon).
The Sun enters Gemini in late May when the hurricane season begins.[12]
31.  By calming the windstorm, Jesus is showing mastery over the Element Air.
32.  Matthew and Luke simply say that Jesus ‘rebuked’ the wind, but Mark gives the actual word he used:  Σιώπα (siōpa) (Mk 4:39), which means ‘Quiet!’, or ‘Be still!’. This echoes the Doric Greek name for Gemini το σίω (siō) which is the dual form of the word for ‘god’; (i.e. Gemini, ‘the two gods’.)[13]
33.  Gemini is associated with multiplicity, fragmentation. In the story of the Gerasene Demoniac (Mk 5:1-20), the demon-possessed man says ‘My name is Legion, for we are many’.

Matthew’s version of this story has TWO demon-possessed men – (Mtt 8:28). This is one of a number of occasions on which another Gospel - usually Matthew - is more ‘astrological’ than Mark.

34.  Gemini is associated with the dissemination of ideas. In this section, Jesus sends out the apostles to proclaim the message of the kingdom (Mk 6:7-13).
35.  Jesus sends out the apostles ‘two by two’.
36.  ... and he orders them not to take two coats.
37.  The demons from Legion enter two thousand pigs (but a Roman legion was normally between four and six-thousand strong).
38.  Herod is in two minds about John (Mk 5:20).
39.  Herod offers Herodias half his kingdom (Mk 6:23).
40.  John the Baptist ends up in two parts (Mk 6:27-29).
41.  Sodom and Gomorrah ‘the twin cities of the plain’ are only mentioned in this section (Mk 6:11).
42.  The story of Jairus’s Daughter and the Woman with the Flow of Blood (Mk 5:21-43) is the only ‘double’ miracle in the Gospels.
What we have here is without precise parallel in the Gospel – an incident broken into by another incident which takes place in the middle of it.
(Nineham, St. Mark, Pelican Gospel Commentary.)
Jesus agrees to go with Jairus to cure his daughter and, on the way to Jairus’s house, he cures a woman with a persistent blood flow. These two ‘miracles’ describe the importance of reviving and reincorporating the feminine, the forgotten polarity, the ‘other side’ (an expression used three times in this section) of the religious coin which has been buried under centuries of masculine rules, regulations, and anathemas.
43.  Gemini is associated with relatives, especially brothers and sisters. Jesus’s relatives have been mentioned before (Mark 3:20-34), but this is the only time they are named (Mk 6:3);

44.   …. and brother, wife, sister-in-law, daughter, and niece all feature in the story of John the Baptist’s beheading (Mk 6:21-29).

Cancer 6:30-8:26 (Associated with the Crab, the Moon, water, traditions, the nation, the clan, the shell, the stomach, food.) Nearby constellations: Ursa Major (Big Bear), Ursa Minor (Little Bear), Argo (The Ship which Conquered the Waters).

45.  Cancer and its ‘ruler’, the Moon, are associated with the stomach and with food. This section contains The Feeding of the Five Thousand (Mk 6:30-44)
46.  .. and the Feeding of the Four Thousand (Mk 8: 1-13).
47.  Close by Cancer are Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the two ‘bears’, the Great Bear and the Little Bear. Ancient commentators  saw these two constellations as ‘flocks’( דברים ) not ‘bears’( דבים ).[14] Jesus feeds two flocks, one bigger than the other.
48.  The constellation Cancer contains a star called Ma’Alaph which means ‘numbered thousands’.
49.  Cancer concerns traditions and customs. This section contains a lengthy piece in which Jesus questions the food and hand-washing traditions of the Pharisees (Mk 7:1-23).
50.  …and their tradition of declaring money or property ‘Corban’ in order to escape their responsibilities to their parents (Mk 7:11-12)
51.  Jesus walks on the water in this section (Mk 6:45-52). Cancer is a Water sign. Walking on Water demonstrates mastery over the emotions, which, because of their inconstancy and instability, were associated with water by the ancients.
52.  In addition, close by Cancer is the constellation Argo, Jason’s ship, said by Manilius to be the ship ‘that conquered the water’ (quae vicerat aequor).[15]
53.  Cancer is associated with the home, the fatherland (or motherland), with closing oneself off (like the crab’s shell) from the foreign and the strange, with ‘clannish’ behaviour. Jesus is shown exhibiting just such clannishness in his treatment of the Syrophoenician Woman who asks him to help her daughter. ‘It’s wrong to give the children’s food to the dogs’ (Mk 7:27), he says.
54.   ‘Yes, but the dogs can eat the children’s crumbs,’ (Mk 7:28) says the woman. This image is taken straight from the constellation patterns, from the area between Gemini and Cancer. Sirius is The Dog Star and can be found in the constellation Canis Major (the Big Dog)  and Procyon which means ‘Before the Dog’ (i.e. rising before Sirius) is in Canis Minor,  (the Little Dog).

‘Above Procyon are the stars of Castor and Pollux, the Twins –  … Sometimes this rectangle is seen as a table at which Castor and Pollux are eating; the two dogs (Sirius and Procyon) are waiting patiently for the table crumbs. These crumbs can be seen as very faint stars of magnitude 5 or 6, scattered between Gemini and Procyon.’[16]

55.  Jesus’s strange journey. (This is only found in Mark.)
Καὶ πάλιν ἐξελθὼν ἐκ τῶν ὁρίων Τύρου ἦλθεν διὰ Σιδῶνος εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἀνὰ μέσον τῶν ὁρίων Δεκαπόλεως.
‘Leaving the region of Tyre, he went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, up through the middle of the Decapolis’ (Mk 7:31).

This has been likened to travelling from London to Cornwall via Manchester. ‘It shows that the author of Mark didn’t know his Palestinian geography and so was probably not a native of the area,’ say generations of commentators. No it doesn’t. It shows that the author had a sense of humour. This describes what airline pilots call ‘crabbing’, that is, pointing the vessel in one direction while moving in another. Ancient seafarers would no doubt use a similar term to describe ‘tacking’. Crabs don’t walk in straight lines. This is an ingenious reference to Cancer, the Crab.
56.  Jesus’s instruction to the deaf man with a speech impediment - ‘Ephphatha!’ (Mk 7:34) - is not given in Aramaic because someone remembered it (as countless generations of commentators have suggested): it is in Aramaic to draw attention to it. It means ‘be open’ and summarises perfectly what our attitude should be to unfamiliar people and ideas: ‘Break through the crab-like shell of your exclusiveness.’

Leo 8:27-9:29 (Associated with the Lion, the Sun, royalty, ‘divine splendour’, glory, the heart, faith, self-importance.)           

57.  The Leo section contains the Transfiguration (Mk 9:2-7), when Jesus demonstrates his divine nature to his disciples. Leo, the only sign said to be ‘ruled’ by the Sun, has been called ‘the sign of divine splendour’.[17]

Although Mark says that Jesus’s clothing shone with intense whiteness, Matthew, in his corresponding account (Mtt 17:2), says that ‘his garments shone like the Sun, and his clothes became as white as light’. (καὶ μετεμορφώθη ἔμπροσθεν αὐτῶν, καὶ ἔλαμψεν τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ὡς ὁ ἥλιος, τὰ δὲ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο λευκὰ ὡς τὸ φῶς.) Once again, Matthew is more ‘astrological’ than Mark.

Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration on 6th August, when the Sun is in the very centre of Leo.

58.  Leo is the lion, the king of beasts. The principal star of the constellation is Regulus – the little king.
59.  The second star is Al Giebha, said to mean the exalted, the exaltation.
60.  Zosma, in the lion’s tail means the shining forth, the epiphany.[18]
61.  Leo, like all the Fire signs (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius) is associated with faith, the virtue extolled by Jesus in the account of the healing of the dumb boy (Mk 9:14-29).

Virgo 9:30-9:50 (Associated with the Virgin, Mercury, humility, service, simplicity, purity, children, innocence, details.) Nearby constellations: Coma (the Infant), Boötes (the Shepherd or Herdsman)

62.  Virgo is associated with modesty, simplicity, purity, service, humility, and details.  Manilius tells us:
But modest Virgo’s rays give polished parts
….But bashful modesty casts down their eyes.
(Manilius Astronomica)
In this (short) section, we read of the apostles arguing about who was the greatest among them. Jesus tells them ‘If anyone wants to be first, he will be last of all, and the servant of all’ (Mk 9:35).[19]
63.  In Egypt, Virgo was associated with the goddess, Isis, who is often depicted carrying the infant Horus. Here, Jesus takes a child in his arms (Mk 9:36) to illustrate innocence and humility.

Matthew reflects the Virgoan character of this passage even more clearly than Mark: ‘Therefore, whoever humbles  himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’ (Mtt 18:4).

64.  Virgo is associated with small gestures rather than grandiose ones. Hence ‘Whoever gives you a cup of cold water to drink because you bear the name of Christ won’t go unrewarded’ (Mk 9:41).

The Virgo section of Mark is short, but Matthew’s treatment of the same themes (Chapter 18) is much longer and includes the Parable of the Lost Sheep which has a very Virgoan flavour (looking after the details). It also reflects the nearby constellation Boötes, the Shepherd or the Husbandman. The whole of Matthew 18 would not be out of place in the Virgo section of Mark.

The Catholic Church celebrates the birthday of the Virgin Mary – who embodies the Virgoan virtues set out above - on 8th September, when the Sun is in the centre of Virgo.

Libra 10:1-10:31 (Associated with the Scales, Venus, relationships, marriage, ‘weighing in the balance’). Nearby constellations, Crux (The Cross), Lupus (The Wolf or The Victim), Corona (The Crown).

65.  Libra is the sign of the autumn equinox, when day and night are equal. It is associated with relationships, marriage, and ‘the primitive urge for unity and relatedness with others’.[20] In this section, Jesus gives his teaching on marriage and divorce.
66.  The Greeks called Libra Zugos (ζεῦγος) ‘the Yoke’, and it is a word formed from this very root which Jesus uses to describe how man and woman are ‘yoked’ together (συνέζευξεν) in marriage (Mk 10:9).
67.  Libra is the balance point of the year and is often symbolised by weight-scales. In Egypt, Libra was associated with the goddess Ma’at, who weighed the hearts of the dead against a feather. Those who passed her test were said to be ‘light-hearted’, those who failed were ‘heavy-hearted’. The rich young man walks away from Jesus in great sorrow (λυπούμενος) ‘heavy-hearted’ (Mk 10:22). Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines the root verb λυπέω (lupeo) as: ‘to distress; reflexively or passively, to be sad -- cause grief, grieve, be in heaviness, (be) sorrow(-ful), be (make) sorry.’ Mark’s use of this verb also reflects the nearby constellation Lupus. It is a clever cross-language pun: Lupus is a Latin noun, Lupeo is a Greek verb.

Scorpio 10:32-10:52 (Associated with the Scorpion, Mars, depth, power, sex, the sexual organs, death and regeneration, expiation, purgation). Nearby constellations Ophiuchus (The Serpent Holder), Serpens (ὄφις – Ophis - the Serpent).

68.  Scorpio is associated with hidden power, death, regeneration, expiation, purgation, sexuality and spiritual initiation into the deep mysteries of life. Scorpio is about ‘depth’, and so the location of this section around Jericho is appropriate: Jericho is the lowest inhabited place on earth, 825 feet below sea level. Before the ascent to Jerusalem (2500 feet above sea level), comes the descent into Jericho.
69.  At this point, James and John ask Jesus to ‘allow one of us to sit on your right hand and one on your left hand in your glory’ (Mk 10:35-45). They want power, a very Scorpionic desire.

A passage purporting to be from a longer version of Mark, which was discovered by Professor Morton Smith, is located in this section, and since the themes of this passage are clearly Scorpionic (death, regeneration, mystery, with just a hint of sex), there is at least a chance that it is an authentic part of original Mark. It may have been excised because of the possible sexual element.[21]

70.  Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer (associated with Asclepius, the Healer) and Serpens (The Snake) which the Greeks called ὄφις (Ophis) lie between Scorpio and Sagittarius. It is quite possible that some verses from a disputed ending of Mark, verses which tell us that believers will pick up snakes (ὄφεις), drink deadly poison, and place their hands on sick people to make them well, really belong in this section of the Gospel.

Sagittarius 11:1-11:26 (Associated with the Centaur, Jupiter, horses, zeal, travel, foreigners, religion, arrows, the thighs, faith.) Nearby constellation Ara (The Altar)

71.  In Mark (and Luke) Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a young horse (πῶλος) not a donkey. This is an image of the Centaur, half man, half horse, the pictogram of Sagittarius.
72.  By sedately riding on an unbroken horse (‘a horse on which no one has ever sat’ - Mk 11:2) Jesus is showing mastery over the Element Fire.
73.  Echoes of Psalm 45, The Royal Wedding Song, in which the bridegroom, his sword upon his thigh, rides to meet his bride.
In your majesty, ride forth victoriously
On behalf of truth, humility and righteousness
Let your right hand display awesome deeds
Let your sharp arrows pierce the heart to the king’s enemies.
The thigh, the horse, the arrows, are all associated with Sagittarius.
74.  Sagittarius is said by Ptolemy to be ‘bi-corporeal’, two-bodied, just like Gemini. In Gemini we had two miracles, one in the middle of the other, in Sagittarius we have a miracle in two parts – the cursing of the fig-tree (Mk 11:14) and its discovery as a withered plant (Mk 11:20-21).
75.  Cursing the fig-tree shows Jesus’s mastery over the Element Earth.
76.  The ‘bi-corporeal’ nature of Sagittarius is also shown by the place the apostles are to find the horse (Mk 11:4). It is ‘the place where two roads meet’ (ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀμφόδου). 
77.  A constellation close by Sagittarius is Ara. In Latin, this means ‘Altar’, but in Greek it means ‘Curse’. ‘The fig tree you cursed (κατηράσω – kateraso) has withered’.
78.  In making the fig-tree wither, Jesus is showing mastery over the Element Earth.
79.  Jesus overturns the chairs of those who sold pigeons (Mk 11:15). The two stars in the tip of the Archer’s arrow have been compared to an overturned chair.[22]
80.  Sagittarius is associated with internationalism. ‘Isn’t it written, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all Nations?”’ asks Jesus (Mk 11:17). ‘Ara’ means Curse in Greek (see 75 above) but it means Altar in Latin. Manilius says it represents the mundi templum, the temple of the world.[23]

Capricorn 11:27-12:44 (Associated with The Mountain Goat, Saturn, authority, the father, structure, convention, propriety, traditions.)

81.  Capricorn is associated with political and social structures, convention, propriety, authority, the father. The question of authority dominates this section. It opens with the question, ‘By what authority do you do these things?’ (Mk 11:28).
82.  Jesus assesses the various sources of spiritual authority within Judaism (Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes etc) and finds them wanting.
83.  He tells a parable about their inadequacies (Mk 12:1-12).
84.  He comments on the legitimacy of the state’s authority (Mk 12:13-17).
85.  He even comments on the authority of the Jewish Scriptures (Mk 12:35-37).
86.  Jesus asks his questioners to produce a denarius (Mk 12:15), not just any coinAugustus had a denarius minted which showed his head on one side and Capricorn (the sign in which his Moon was placed) on the other, and so did the emperor Titus, whose Sun was in Capricorn. Capricorn is the only sign to appear on a Roman denarius. Below is the Titus denarius, minted about C.E. 79. (Titus was born on 30th December 39 C.E.)

87.  In the Capricorn section of his Gospel, Mark has a lengthy condemnation of hypocrisy, a vice associated with Capricorn. Charles Carter writes: ‘the New Testament does contain condemnations of the leaders of Jewry that certainly sound like attacks upon the traditional Capricorn – the love of high places, hypocritical formalism in religion, the desecration of holy places in pursuit of gain.’(Carter, Essays on the Foundations of Astrology, page 83)

In Matthew’s much longer condemnation of hypocrisy (Chapter 23) he adds: ‘They love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called “Rabbi” by others. But you are not to be called “Rabbi” for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone of earth “father”, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.’ (vs 7-9). This is a clear reflection of Capricorn’s association with fatherhood. Yet another example of Matthew being more astrological than Mark.

Aquarius 13:1-14:16 (Associated with The Man Carrying a Jar of Water, Saturn, anarchy, political and social upheaval, drastic change.)

88.  The Man Carrying a Jar of Water (Mk 14: 13-16) is one of the clearest zodiacal references. ‘This constellation has been represented, even on very early Babylonian stones, as a man, or a boy, pouring water from a bucket or urn.’[24]

            Aquarius, by Dan Hodgkin

89.  Aquarius, ruled by Saturn, is associated with anarchy, political and social upheaval, drastic and radical change. The whole of Mark Chapter 13 is devoted to these very themes.
90.  ‘At that time they will see the son of man coming in clouds (‘water-bearers’!) with great power and glory.’ (Mk 13:26).

In a parallel passage, Matthew has, ‘At that time the sign of the son of man will appear in the sky…’ (Matt. 24:30). This is a reference to the coming Age of Aquarius. (Aquarius is the only single human figure in the zodiac.) Once again, Matthew is more ‘astrological’ than Mark.

Pisces 14:17-16:18 (Associated with the Fish, Jupiter, secret enemies, betrayal, cowardice, sleep, dreams, endings, the feet.) Nearby constellations Cepheus (The Crowned King), Andromeda (The Sacrificed and Chained Woman).

91.  Pisces is the sign in which the sun ‘dies’ before being ‘born anew’ at the spring equinox, when it enters Aries once again. Jesus’s final words ‘Elōi, elōi, lama, sabakhthani’ means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ in Aramaic. But ‘Eloi’ sounds very much like the vocative of the Greek word ‘hēlios’ (ἥλιος ) which means ‘Sun’. (Matthew has ἠλί which is probably even closer.)
92.  Pisces was not held in high regard by the ancients. According to Allen, it ‘was considered … “a dull treacherous and malignant sign” … The Egyptians are said to have abstained from eating sea-fish out of dread and abhorrence; and when they would express anything odious, represented a fish in their hieroglyphics.[25] So, Pisces was associated with treachery (Judas betrays Jesus to the authorities – Mk 14:43-45).
93.  … and lying (‘some stood up and gave false testimony against him’ – Mk 14:57).
94.  … and cowardice (Peter denies Jesus Mk 14:27-3; 66-72)  
95.   …and sleep (the apostles sleep in the Garden of Gethsemane Mk 14:40)
96.  … and alcohol and narcotics. ‘They gave Jesus wine mingled with myrrh’ (ἐδίδουν αὐτῷ ἐσμυρνισμένον οἶνον ὃς δὲ) (Mk 15:23)
97.  … and thieves. Jesus is crucified between two thieves (Mk 15:27).

Pisces was also associated with dreams and premonitions. Mark does not mention dreams, but Matthew has an account of Pilate’s wife’s premonitory dream (Mtt 27:19).

98.  The myth of Cepheus (the Crowned King) is clearly referred to in the story of the scourging of Jesus (Mk 15:16-20). The constellation Cepheus is close by Pisces.
99.  The story of Andromeda (The Sacrificed Woman), is also alluded to in this section. Manilius wrote of Andromeda, 'on the virgin cross hung the maid about to die' (et cruce virginea moritura puella pependit’).[26] Andromeda, too,  is close by Pisces.
100.        Cassiopeia was referenced in Chapter 1 of the Gospel; her husband, Cepheus, and her daughter, Andromeda, feature at the end. The three constellations are close together in the sky, and are associated with both Aries and Pisces, because the zodiac is a circle. These three constellations can be found close to the point where Pisces and Aries meet.

Pisces is also connected with the feet. In John’s Gospel, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper (Jn 13ff)

There are four references to ‘fish’ in Mark and  twenty-one in the other three Gospels (Six in Matthew, six in Luke, and nine in John.) ‘Fishermen’ are mentioned five times in the Gospels. But, with the exception of one reference in 1 Cor.15:39, there are no ‘fish’ references in the rest of the New Testament. The Gospels have strong Piscean connections! One wonders, in the light of Pisces’s bad reputation (see 91 above) why the early Christians chose the Fish as a symbol of Christ. As Strachan comments, ‘It is impossible to explain how such a ‘cold-blooded, apathetic creature of the waters could come to symbolise the noble and exalted Saviour without reference to astral symbolism’ (Strachan, Christ and the Cosmos, page 42).

Note: The zodiacal sections are not watertight! For example, ‘twos’ appear in Gemini, but they appear elsewhere; ‘food appears in Cancer, but it appears elsewhere. The sections are not related to a zodiac sign by a single reference but by a number of references - in some cases (e.g. Aries, Gemini, and Cancer) a plethora of references! And, of course, the sequence is perfect.

Part 3 investigates the nature of Mark’s Gospel and explores the teaching contained in the Cancer section.  

[1] Allen page 332
[2] There is also a possible derivation from the Greek words αἴθω + ὤψ (aitho “I burn” + ops “face”) i.e. Burnt-face 
[3] Aratus, Phaenomena, line 248
[4] although he uses the word νυμφιος
[5] Allen, page 401. See Virgil’s First Georgic lines 219-226. (Available on-line).
[6] Manilius, page 124
[7] Allen, page 393
[8] Allen, page 384
[9] Allen, page 411
[10] Allen, page 399
[11] Translation by Shelley. Allen, pages 227-8.
[12] See website Live Science.
[13] See Liddell and Scott, page 1392
[14] Allen,  page 449
[15] Manilius, Book 1, Line 623

[16] From Patterns in the Sky, by Julius D.W. Staal, page 86

[17] Carter, C., Essays on the Foundations of Astrology, 1961, Fowler, London) page 71
[18] Seiss gives these meanings in The Gospel in the Stars, page 134. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the name meanings in 59 and 60,  but they seem remarkably appropriate, particularly since Seiss is not mentioning them in connection with the Transfiguration.
[19] It may well be significant that the ancients believed that the zodiacal constellations (not the signs) began with Virgo.
[20] Mayo, J., (1964), Teach Yourself Astrology, E.U.P. London, page 63.
[21] The ‘Secret’ Gospel of Mark
Support for the theory that Mark is in some way connected with esoteric thought and that he employs a zodiacal structure is provided by the letter of Clement of Alexandria (2nd century AD) to Theodore. In this letter, a copy of which was discovered by Professor Morton Smith in 1958 at the Monastery of Mar Saba, Clement goes on to explain that Mark, in addition to writing ‘an account of the Lord's doings’ for catechumens also produced a ‘more spiritual Gospel’, and, what is more, that he knew of other teachings and traditions which he did not write down but which would ‘lead initiates into the innermost sanctuary of the truth’.
Clement then gives ‘word for word’ the text of the ‘secret’ passage and its location in the canonical Gospel. It is worth quoting in full:
And they come into Bethany. And a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and says to him, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me’. But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, went off with her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going near Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And straightway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan.
         Death and regeneration are Scorpionic themes and, interestingly, Clement tells us that this passage is located at the very beginning of what we have designated the ‘Scorpio section’ of this Gospel. Clement writes, ‘After these words follows the text, “And James and John come to him”’, i.e. after chapter 10 verse 34.
          This fragment seems to support the theory that Mark's Gospel has undergone a number of revisions, and that, in Barnstone's words, ‘the canonical Gospel of Mark appears to be an abridgement of the Secret Gospel of Mark’ (Barnstone W., 1984, The Other Bible, Harper and Row, San Francisco,  page 340).

[22] Allen, page 355
[23] Allen., page 63
[24] Allen, page 45.
[25] Allen,  pages 339-40.
[26] Manilius Book V, line 552


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