Zodiac Theology of the Reverends

At the death of his uncle, Julius Caesar, the passage of a comet provoked a legend that lasts to these days and gave strange support to the theory that man's destiny . was unchangeable. Even the gay Ovid brings into his Metamorphoses Pythagoras which were so closely linked with astrological teaching. [The] early church fathers paid no attention to what the Bible thought about it. They believed in it, strongly. Early church father, Origen, said that "the stars are intelligent spirits, able to foresee the future and communicate their knowledge by their observed motions." St. Thomas Aquinas agreed with this. He said, "Our fate is the power exerted by the stars in their movements." The early church was governed by Astrology. Every important prelate had his own private astrologer determining every move by the stars. In the 12th and 13th centuries, astrology flowered in the church. Pope Julius II settled the date of his coronation on the advice of astrologers. Pope Paul III planned the consistory by horoscopes. Pope Leo X founded a chair of astrology at the major university. Cathedrals were decorated with astrological symbols. For hundreds of thousands of years, humans have been aware that the relationship between Earth and the Sun, Moon and stars affected every hour of their existence. Sacred rituals were created in harmony with the movements of the heavens. Every culture has attached spiritual and sacred significance to the Sun, Moon and the stars, the Solstices and the Equinoxes, from Egypt to the Maya of the Yucatan and the American Indian, even to Nancy Reagan who has said that President Ronald Reagan planned his major decisions by Astrology. ~ William Edelen, July 17, 2001, from his website St. Thomas Aquinas admits that the stars determine individual character, at least in a physical sense, and since most men follow their passions - that is to say, their physical appetites - it is really by the stars that they are led into sin: "Plures hominum sequuntur passiones, quae sunt motus sensitivi appetitus, ad quos cooperari possunt corpora coelestia..." ("The majority of men follow their passions, which are movements of the sensitive appetite, in which movements heavenly bodies can co-operate..."; from Summa, I, 115, 4; trans. by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province [London, 1912], p. 517.) Origen was born in 185 A.D. under an obdurate star; but he was as intractably dedicated, in his way, as Theodora was ursinely dedicated in hers. He too was an extremist. To insure his abiding consecration to his chosen calling, he had had himself castrated. No act could have constituted a more studied affront to a woman like Theodora, even across centuries, and it was equally calculated to offend the ambivalent celibate in Justinian. In their imperial eyes, Origen was no better than a self-mutilated pariah; so his teachings would no doubt have been doomed in any case, regardless of their subject matter. Origen’s pen had been as prolific as Voltaire’s; but according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, the ten books of Stromata, his most provocative work, have disappeared leaving almost no trace. This is of paramount significance, in that Origen occupied himself here in ”correlating the established Christian teachings with the ‘Christian’ dogmas of Plato, Aristotle, Numenius and Corrutus. The link that connects him with Churchly realism, as well as with the Neo-Platonic mysticism, is the conviction that certain knowledge rests wholly on divine revelation, i.e. on oracles. Origen states in his own Contra Celsum: Is it not more in conformity with reason that every soul, for certain mysterious reasons, (I speak now according to the opinion of Pythagoras and Plato, and Empedocles, whom Celsus frequently names), is introduced into a 1

body according to its deserts and former actions? Is it not rational that souls who have used their bodies to do the utmost possible good should have a right to bodies endowed with qualities superior to the bodies of other? The soul, which is immaterial and invisible in its nature, exists in no material plane; accordingly, it at one time puts off one body, which was necessary before, but which is no longer adequate in its changed state, and it exchanges it for a second. And in his De Principiis: Every soul...comes into this world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the defeats of its previous life. Its place in this world as a vessel appointed to honor or dishonor, is determined by its previous merits or demerits. Its work in this world determines its place in the world which is to follow this. I am indeed of the opinion that as the end and consummation of the saints will be in those (ages) which are not seen, and are eternal, we must conclude that rational creatures had also a similar beginning...And if this is so, then there has been a descent from a higher to a lower condition on the part, not only of those souls who have deserved the change by the variety of their movements but also (on the part) of those who, in order to serve the whole world, were brought down from those higher and invisible spheres to these lower and visible ones, even against their will...The hope of freedom is entertained by the whole of creation - of being liberated from the corruption of slavery - when the sons of God, who either fell away or were scattered abroad, having fulfilled their duties in this world, shall be gathered into one. Exactly how did the Pagan philosophies of Pythagoras and Plato (who both were thoroughly Pagan and subscribed to reincarnation) complement the beliefs of the Early Christian Fathers? The views of Pythagoras (582-507 B.C.) exist only in his biographies by Diogenes Laertius and Iamlichus respectively; but the former quotes him as asserting that "he had received the memory of all his soul's transmigrations as a gift from Mercury, along with the gift of recollecting what his own soul, and the souls of others, had experienced between death and rebirth." (It is important to respect the distinction that these worthies made between metempsychosis - the dilatory migration of souls through sub-human shapes - and a series of progressive re-births in human form.)

How the Early Church Suppressed Paganism and Astrology While Supporting Reincarnation by C. Ravin, Esq. January 2000

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Throughout 407, the news received at Rome grew worse almost day by day. Slowly but inexorably, Constantine III liberated all Gaul from both barbarians and the remnants of Honorius' administration. Displaced and desperate bands of would-be settlers from the north roamed northern Italy. Stilicho was forced to break off operations he had commenced in Illycrium against the remnants of Radagais' horde and so abandon his dreams of a west-Roman Danube. The pleas from Alaric (still in Greece) took on a threatening note. By December the now adult Honorius, surveying with Stilicho from the relative safety of Rome the chaos they had helped create, realized that he must do something positive to demonstrate his strength and effectiveness. The action he decided upon was apparently trifling and futile, but in fact provocatively dangerous, inasmuch as it could only make him still more enemies. To placate the Christians, he ordered that the Sybilline Books should be burned on Christmas Day. On the face of it, such an action would seem a small things beside all the insults already offered to the gods, but Rutilius Namantianus, a highly-educated and sensitive Roman traditionalist, saw it as a symbolic act of murder, a proclamation of the coming death of old Rome. Many probably shared his view. In a bitter attack of the memory of Stilicho, "The traitor who was secret emperor", Namantianus later compared burning the books with two similar symbolic murders from the mythological past: Althea's dooming to death her son Meleager by burning the firebrand upon which his life depended, and Scylla's destruction of her father Nisus' kingdom by cutting his sacred hair (after which, the gods made both of them sea-birds). So to this contemporary Pagan, the deliberate destruction of the Oracles was an evil act, an ill-wishing the meaning of which could scarcely be overlooked in a world where omens might be seen in events far less fateful: "The Roman race then struggled to survive - Frenzy mingled with the worst of cruelty! - Fearing that there now had come what men had ever feared; the barbarian net weaving the death of latium..."

Rome itself lying open to leather-clad auxiliaries, a slave before ever she grew withered - the traitor lying in wait with so many Gothic troops! Yet first he burned the treasure, the Sybilline Oracles "It hurts to see Althea burn the sacred firebrand: to hear those birds named Nisus and Scylla scream - Stilicho choosing to destroy the fateful pledges of eternal rule..."

Many shared Manantianus' opinion that all Rome's troubles lay at Stilicho's door. They would have been happier with the eastern Prefect Anthemius' anti-barbarian policies than they were with those of the western administration, although many of them would have scorned the Greek's devotion to the cause of Christianity. To Namantianus, Stilicho was "the traitor" who, with his leather-clad auxiliaries, lay concealed till the moment should come when he could destroy Rome - a moment he himself precipitated by burning the sacred books guaranteeing Rome's sovereignty. Yet was it in fact Stilicho who ordered the burning of the Books? Roman gossip told Namantianus that it was, but although he may actually have given the order, it is probable that the inspiration came from Honorius himself and his Christian advisers. Relations between the emperor and his prefect were probably already strained. Stilicho's son, Eucherius, was a Pagan, and was widely suspected of having been involved in plots against Honorius' Christian government. It may well be that by Christmas 407, Honorius felt that it was time to assert himself. Only shortly afterwards, he promulgated new laws underscoring his determination to rule through orthodox Christian administrators and to end the dangers of a Pagan revival: the first of them, issued simultaneously with the order to burn the oracles, barred Christian heretics from office, and made the bishops judges in these matters; another, dated 408, forbade "those antipathetic to the catholic sect" to serve as imperial guards; and a third, addressed to the Praetorian Prefect appointed after Stilicho's death, ordered the bishops to see that no Pagan rites were celebrated anywhere, even in cemeteries, and suggested, by what it proscribed, that 3

during recent years Paganism had largely been reestablished, public money having been allocated for its support: "Means of subsistence (annonae) of the temples are to be withdrawn. What statues there now are in temples and shrines are to be thrown out from their places, as we are well aware has been frequently reiterated in former decrees. The structures of temples, whether in cities or towns or outside towns are to be converted to public use, and altars everywhere destroyed."

On that Christmas Day 407 - the day of the undying Sun - when the Sybilline books were burned, that last order lay a year in the future. But Namantianus and his friends saw it coming, when they watched the oracles destroyed and the priesthood of the Quindecimvirs thus emptied of meaning. The books had been destroyed before - but only by enemies in open warfare. The case now was different.

The first signs that astrologers were working in Imperial Rome come from the highest level of all, the court of the Emperor. Augustus, says the historian Suetonius, had such confidence in his destiny that he published his horoscope and stamped coins with the sign of Capricorn under which he was born. At the death of his uncle, Julius Caesar, the passage of a comet provoked a legend that lasts to these days and gave strange support to the theory that man's destiny . was unchangeableCertainly at that time and place the message of the stars seemed more apt for the great than for the ordinary man. The "death of princes" was indeed earth-shaking. The Emperors took their cue from Augustus and employed not only one astrologer but many. Tiberius's man made public his own prediction that when the Emperor left Rome in A.D. 26, he would never return. Tiberius left Rome for Capri where he died in due course at the assassin's hand. Caligula, his successor, was warned of violence - apparently with no avail since he too died at the assassin's hand at the beginning of A.D. 41 Claudius, the Fourth Roman Emperor, was himself a scholar, versed in the ideas of astrology, of philosophy, and of other methods of divination. During his reign astrological divination definitely became "the thing" - the ante-rooms of the great were thronged with the Chaldeans, as they were known, giving advice as to love affairs, the fulfilment of ambition, the acquisition of wealth. And, considering the uncertain conditions of the day, a little hint as to dangerous moments in which to venture forth into the dark streets and some sagacious warning as to reliability of slaves, were probably also in vogue. The naissant science of medicine was by this time inextricably wedded to astrological ideas that certain parts of the body responded to certain stellar influences. The idea that the hour of death, like the hour of birth, is written in the stars was widespread. "At the moment we are born we die, and our end is fixed from our beginning." "A man dies on his day and not before." Current scientific thought accepted the subject without criticism and, in incorporating it into the study of natural phenomena, paved the way to the mediaeval and Renaissance belief in celestial correspondences that affected the course of nature and the crops, the human body and disease. Nor were the writers of the day indifferent to the appeal of astrological symbology. The idea of fatalism, of man's destiny being written in the stars, is a poetic one that has struck an echo in every generation, and certainly did so in Imperial Rome. Horace - that pleasant cynic - was unlikely a devotee of any cult, but he plays with astrological terms happily enough. Seneca treats the whole subject more seriously, and, as befits a writer of tragedies, brings his unhappy characters to the end ordained in their birth stars. Even the gay Ovid brings into his Metamorphoses the ideas of Pythagoras which were so closely linked with astrological teaching. Yet once again it was on the religious level that astrological ideas impressed the more thoughtful Romans. The brisk, pleasure-loving Pagan attitude began to leave an aftermath of bitterness as existence under the Emperors became more uncertain and human lives of ever-decreasing value. New religious ideas colored by 4

Eastern mysticism began to creep into the thought of the time: the Olympic deities with their rough and ready enjoyment of life and disconcerting ideas about punishment were poor comfort to the children of a highly sophisticated civilization. The idea that the highest in the land, those self-styled deities the Emperors, passed from human life to eternity in the Sun had begun to pall. So speculation about a future life, about a passage of the soul, gained ground. The most religious of the Roman poets, Virgil, in his Georgics, appeals to the Muses to point out to him the path of the stars in the sky, the reason for eclipses, tides and earthquakes, and to bestow on him a knowledge of nature that will help him to a philosophical approach to this life and to eternity. The most fascinating in this religious currency was the animating principle of the cult of Mithras - a religion that was only narrowly defeated by Christianity in the 4th century of our era. The Roman soldiers were followers of Mithras, the Legions had their own Mithraic chapels. The mysteries were ceremoniously observed from the 1st century onward, and appeared to have come into the western world from Chaldean-Persian sources, bringing astrological beliefs with them. Briefly, the human soul was said to descend from heaven to this world beneath the Moon, passing through the Planetary spheres and acquiring dispositions and qualities peculiar to each of them. After the death of the body it made the return journey, sloughing off the passions and sins that it had acquired on Earth as undesired garments. To the Moon went the failings of human personality, to Mercury greed, to Venus lust, to the Sun intellect, to Mars war-like ardor, to Jupiter ambition and to Saturn sloth. When the soul reached the Eighth Heaven it entered a sublime essence where lived the gods. In the mythology of Mithras, seven different metals composed a ladder which was the symbol of this passage of souls from the spheres, and the astrological correspondences of metals with the Planets determined the constitution of the ladder. Lead signified Saturn, gold the Sun, silver the Moon and copper Venus, and so on. In various disguises this idea of the passage of the soul was to survive throughout the dark and middle ages and is still with us in the mystical cults among the Christians and the Eastern faiths. And who shall say that it is not an inspiring one? Says Claudius Ptolemy: I know I am mortal, born for a day, but when I follow the serried crowd of the stars in their circular course my feet touch the Earth no longer. I go to Zeus himself and sate myself with ambrosia, the food of the Gods.

Roman life was sordid enough in many of its aspects. Blood and cruelty darkened the splendors of the Imperial court and the glorious triumphs of Roman arms. These astrological ideas, percolating westward in the days of Imperial Rome, brought some hope, inspiration and light into dark places.

The Scourge of Astrology

Christianity was an early rival pitted against astrology, and more often than not its number one enemy. Perhaps they are both competing for the Soul and Destiny. At the start of Christianity, Christian writers regarded this astrology-religion as a kind of rival which used methods which were basically and fundamentally wrong, for it posited a number of gods and forces of nature whose rigid and blind fatalism allowed no freedom of will to man, instead of a single and all-powerful god. The first church fathers therefore saw astrology as a demonic monster which had to be fought. Its harmful nature, amorality, and determinism threatened to turn believers from the way of righteousness. Its determinism was particularly dangerous: since God was sole master of the future, it was impossible that the stars should be a 5

cause of men's destinies. Yet the early church fathers were all hypocrites anyway, so it is no surprise that they followed the counsel of the stars all the while denouncing it. Here is a comment by William Edelen, a former minister at the First Congregational Church in Tacoma, Washington, and lecturer for the Department of Religion at the University of Puget Sound: [The] early church fathers paid no attention to what the Bible thought about it. They believed in it, strongly. Early church father, Origen, said that "the stars are intelligent spirits, able to foresee the future and communicate their knowledge by their observed motions." St. Thomas Aquinas agreed with this. He said, "Our fate is the power exerted by the stars in their movements." The early church was governed by Astrology. Every important prelate had his own private astrologer determining every move by the stars. In the 12th and 13th centuries, astrology flowered in the church. Pope Julius II settled the date of his coronation on the advice of astrologers. Pope Paul III planned the consistory by horoscopes. Pope Leo X founded a chair of astrology at the major university. Cathedrals were decorated with astrological symbols. For hundreds of thousands of years, humans have been aware that the relationship between Earth and the Sun, Moon and stars affected every hour of their existence. Sacred rituals were created in harmony with the movements of the heavens. Every culture has attached spiritual and sacred significance to the Sun, Moon and the stars, the Solstices and the Equinoxes, from Egypt to the Maya of the Yucatan and the American Indian, even to Nancy Reagan who has said that President Ronald Reagan planned his major decisions by Astrology. ~ William Edelen, July 17, 2001, from his website

Let us note that during the last centuries of paganism belief in the divinity of the heavenly bodies grew even stronger. The stars are alive: they have a recognized appearance, a sex, a character, which their names alone suffice to evoke. They are powerful and redoubtable beings, anxiously prayed to and interrogated, since it is they who inspire all human action. They reign over human life and hold in their keeping the secrets of man’s fortune and of his end. Benevolent or deadly, they determine the fate of peoples and individuals by the mere accident of their movements, their conjunctions and oppositions. To conciliate these dangerous masters everyone, from the Emperor down to the circus groom, had recourse to the arts of the Chaldean soothsayers, a fraternity as indispensible as it was ill-famed. These charlatans boasted that they could bring the spirit of a star down from heaven and render it propitious both for this life and the next. Amulets and talismans were everywhere in circulation. Increasingly - as, for example, among the Neoplatonists of the third century obsession with the divine and the demoniacal began to mingle with concepts of natural law and mechanics. Science lost ground to superstition and magic, or at the very least became inextricably involved with them. Let us note, furthermore, that this process of “absorption” of the gods by the stars which we have sketched finally resulted in assuring the gods of survival. One might indeed call it a piece of unhoped-for good luck on their side, for the old mythology had long been bankrupt and the Olympians had become mere phantoms. Now, however, a providential shelter is offered them: “the great gods find honorable refuge in the planets,” while the demigods and heroes ascend to people the sky with “catasterisms.” Thus, though dethroned or about to be dethroned on Earth, they are still masters of the celestial spheres, and men will not cease to invoke them and fear them. Perhaps there is an analogy here with the process by which the totem animals of the primitive religions “took refuge” long ago in the zodiac. Such was the situation with which Christianity found itself confronted. In its intolerance of all pagan cults, it is only natural that special hostility should have been shown to their most recent and lively embodiment - belief in powerful stellar divinities, with Helios as their king. 6

This hostility is in fact apparent from the very beginnings of Christianity: St. Paul reproaches the Galatians for continuing to observe “days and months, times and years” in the name of the “weak and beggarly elements” to which they desire again to be in bondage (Galatians 4:9-10). Later, the apologists (here, incidentally, echoing the views of Philo of Alexandria) explain that it is a crime to deify the physical world - to worship the thing created instead of the creator. What seems to them particularly impious in the worship of the heavenly bodies, as well as a danger to mortals, is that such worship implies a denial of all human liberty and can end only in a discouraging fatalism. At first sight it would therefore seem that Christianity had nothing but cause to abhor pagan astrology and to oppose it. In actual fact, something quite different took place. To begin with, Christianity itself contained astrological elements; too many traces of the Hellenistic and Oriental religions, too much philosophy and science, were intertwined at its very roots for it to be able to rid itself of them completely. Accordingly, not only did the mythological names of the days of the week survive in spite of a certain amount of protest and some timid attempts to substitute a Christian terminology, but we even see the Church of Rome herself, in the middle of the fourth century, officially fixing the twenty-fifth of December as the date of Christ’s nativity - the same day which had marked the birth of the Sun in the pagan religions, since the yearly course of each new sun has its beginning then. Aurelian, in his day, had made the sun a god of the Empire. Later, the first Christian Emperor was to have himself represented in the likeness of the Sun God on a porphyry column in Constantinople. Thus we see that astrology still had its partisans and believers among the Christians, while even its adversaries made important concessions. Tertullian, not without embarrassment, admits that astrology was valid up to the birth of Christ; now, however, one can no longer look to Saturn, Mars, and the other “dead” gods for knowledge of the future: “Stellas Christi, non Saturni et Martis, et cuiusque ex eodem ordine motuorum observat et praedicat. At enim scientia ista usque ad Evangelium fuit concess, ut Christo edito nemo exinde nativitatem alicuius de caelo interpretetur” (“Astrology now...is the science of the stars of Christ; not of Saturn or Mars and whomsoever else out of the same class of the dead it pays observance to and preaches. But that science was allowed just to the advent of the Gospel, in order that after Christ’s birth no one should thenceforward interpret anyone’s nativity by the heavens.”)

Most devout Christians share the view of Origen: supported by texts from the Bible, they still believe in the power of the stars - although that power has certain limitations. The stars, they hold, cannot act in a manner contrary to the will of God; they may not force a man to sin. However, they do continue to function as signs through which the Deity announces His benevolent or threatening intent. Origen denies to man an exact knowledge of these celestial signs; according to him, only the angels and the spirits of the blessed can decipher them. Neither Lactantius nor St. Augustine, again, casts doubt upon the fact of stellar influence, but both believe it can be overcome by man’s free will and by the grace of God. In short, “since according to the doctrine of predestination, man’s eternal salvation or doom depends solely on the will of God, many see it the compulsion execised by the stars - an inevitable compulsion, which determines the moral life as well - merely another expression of this doctrine; at all events, God’s omnipotence makes manifest its immutable decrees to man through the stars as intermediary.” (L. Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, 1923, I, chap. xxii: “Augustine on Magic and Astrology.”, p. 32.) Furthermore, even when the apologists and Fathers interpret Astrology in this way - and even when they condemn it - they leave untouched the underlying belief in demons in which it is rooted. The existence of evil angels is an article of faith with them all, as it is for the Church; but the gods of pagan fable are now combined wit hthe demons mentioned in the Bible in one confused rabble of malevolent spirits (Psalms 96:5). "The things which they sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils and not to God," says Paul, speaking to the Gentiles (I Corinthians 10:20). For centuries to come, preachers will still go about the countryside expelling "the demons Jupiter, 7

Mercury," etc., from haunts where they have lingered, as was done, for example, by St. Martin. One resource of the hunted gods is to transform themselves into popular saints. It is through the stars and through astrology that these demons often act. In former times, for man's temptation and perdition, they taught him to read the stars. Now, scattered through the air (aeria animalia, as St. Augustine called it), they make use of the heavenly bodies to aid them in their evil dominion. After this, Augustine's anathema against "mathematicorum fallaces divinitiones et impia deliramenta" ("...the lying divinations and impious nonsense of the astrologers"; from Confessions, VII, cap vi, par. 8)

seems somewhat vain, especially since he elsewhere affirms the corporeal reality of the evil powers of heaven. On this point, the great Bishop is in agreement with the "magician" Apuleius, whose teaching he expounds at length (De civ. Dei, I, 9) - with the difference that Aupelius admits the existence of friendly demons. And his arguments, aimed at destroying Astrology as a religion, sometimes have the effect of reinstating it and confirming it. Last of all, there is one fundamentally important reason why Astrology was by no means easily to be extirpated: it stood as an integral and essential element of culture. As we have seen, it had intimately invaded the science of the late pagan world - to such a degree, in fact, that it dominated all the natural sciences. Not only had astronomy fallen under its sway, but mineralogy, botany, zoology, physiology, and medicine as well. A glance at the tabulation reproduced below, in illustration of the system advanced by an astrologer of the second century of our era, Antiochus of Athens, will show that all physical beings were thought of as related to the zodiac. It was therefore a simple matter to connect them with the planets as well, by making use of the "fundamental qualities" of the planets as intermediaries. Mars, in fact, was "hot-dry," Jupiter and Venus were "hot-moist," etc. Similarly, correspondence was established between the planets and the elements - between Mars and Fire, between Jupiter and Air, between Mercury and the Moon on the one hand and Water on the other.

Insofar as the Christian community was receptive to Pagan culture, therefore, it could not neglect Astrology. Now the Church Fathers were urged by two considerations to admit all these studies into the Christian curriculum - their concern that the Christian be in no way inferior to the non-Christian, and their sense of the need for a proper understanding of their own religion. For, as St. Augustine recognizes, knowledge of natural history and astronomy is essential to a right reading of Scripture and a true understanding of divine things. (De doctrina Christiana, II, 29). This theory might prove disturbing to overscrupulous believers. In order to reassure them and justify profane studies the Fathers invoked a most appropriate Biblical episode: when the Hebrew people emerged from Egypt, they carried away with them vessels of gold and silver belonging to their enemies. Why should Christianity not do the same? (Ibid., II, 40). It was on the strength of this argument, many times repeated, that ancient science was to pass over into the Middle Ages. But along with it, all sorts of religious elements, classical or barbaric, passed over as well, and were in many cases to outlive the vicissitudes, the periods of eclipse and shipwreck, experienced by science itself. Thus the Christian polemics of the first centuries concerning Astrology did not, as might have been expected, result in simply relegating it. Instead, the Church to a certain extent came to terms with it, and even turned to it for support. The situation remained the same during the Middle Ages for reasons which are not hard to explain. In the first place, the active principle basic to Astrology, the fear of demons, survived. The Church, it should be recalled, had not completely expelled the antique divinities; they had been degraded to the rank of evil spirits. In this 8

form, they still inspired superstitious fears. To be sure, such fears were now to some extent dispelled and held in check by the belief in the omnipotence of a supreme God capable of subduing adverse forces in obedience to His will: God could save man from demons - but they were none the les there, still living and fearsome. We are told in the Golden Legend that when St. Benedict was preaching against idolatry to the people of Monte Cassino, he converted a temple of Apollo into an oratory of St. John. But the enraged god returned to torment him in the form of a black monster with flaming eyes. While the fear of demons continues to haunt the popular imagination, the astrological theory of causation remains in force as an intellectual concept; even the greatest minds do not repudiate it entirely. They do of course see that omnipotence of the stars could constitute a threat to human liberty, but like the apologists and the Fathers, they are satisfied with defining the limits of this power; they do not deny its existence. St. Thomas Aquinas admits that the stars determine individual character, at least in a physical sense, and since most men follow their passions - that is to say, their physical appetites - it is really by the stars that they are led into sin: "Plures hominum sequuntur passiones, quae sunt motus sensitivi appetitus, ad quos cooperari possunt corpora coelestia..." ("The majority of men follow their passions, which are movements of the sensitive appetite, in which movements heavenly bodies can co-operate..."; from Summa, I, 115, 4; trans. by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province [London, 1912], p. 517.)

In the heyday of the clergy, the heavy hand of ecclesiastical displeasure fell not on the physician, but on the astronomer. Men like Bruno, Galileo, and Copernicus could upset the Christian order of the world, for they stepped directly on the toes of the Fathers who had been taught that the earth was God's footstool, and that the whole mystery of creation had been worked out on this planet. When Copernicus stopped the Sun and made the Earth move, he outdid Joshua, who only stopped the Sun. The Church acted against these men with all sincerity - but with a woeful lack of knowledge - to put these innovationists back in their places before they tore the universe apart. With a rival as insidious as a popular religion of the stars, it was no wonder that Christianity should absorb it and turn some of its chief elements to its own account. This is what the Christian church consistently did in order to accommodate rival Pagan beliefs. The two fundamental dates around which the year of Christian celebrations is built are those of the birth and rebirth, or resurrection, of their Messiah: Christmas and Easter. After a long period of indecision, the Christians chose dates which had marked the beginning of the year for the gods of the Sun, that is, they put the birth of their Messiah at the time of the Winter solstice, when the days begin to lengthen, and his resurrection at the Spring equinox, when the days begin to be longer than the nights. As for the instrument used in the torment of Jesus ( a T-shaped device used for the punishment of slaves), the Christian church, after some indecision, decided to represent it as two lines intersecting each other at right angles, which was the traditional symbol of the four points of the compass and of the Sun's course in the Pagan cults of Sun and life. And, as in these cults, Christians of the first centuries established the custom of turning toward the East in prayer, that is the Rising Sun. Many other details reveal how astrological ideas infiltrated early Christianity: the darkening of the sky which indicated the death of Christ; his resurrection on a Sunday, the day of the Sun; and, especially, the fact that his birth was announced by the star of the Magus Kings. At the beginning these Magi were not kings. They were Chaldean astrologers! Jerome acknowledges without difficulty that they were genuine astrologers, but the legend turned these Arab magicians into kings. In the ensuing quarrel between the church fathers and astrology, the star of the Magus Kings was a considerable embarrassment to the Christians, for its presence in scripture was true astrology, holding the high jurisdiction for which it had been designed. For at the birth of Christ this star proclaimed royalty. Even a royal horoscope for Jesus Christ meant a destiny for the man-god and also appeared to be a guarantee of authenticity for astrology provided by God himself. 9

Christians got around the contradiction by claiming that the star did not belong to the repertory of the astrologers but was merely a witness, a sign of the coming God, and in no sense a cause. But this problem of the star of the Magus Kings shows a subject of astrological concern had penetrated the heart of Christianity. Laws began to reflect a new Christian attitude towards Paganism, the attitude of the middle ages, when Paganism was not seen as a religion, but as Christian heresy, punishable by ecclesiastical courts: We command that now all superstition has been set aside what was formerly ordained about the catholic faith or decreed concerning it by the devout authority of our father, or again has been confirmed by our serenity, is to be preserved and inviolate..." in Cod. Theod. XVI 10, 20; set down by Honorius in October 410

"Let all who act contrary to the sacred laws know that their creeping in their heretical superstition to worship at the most remote oracle is punishable by exile and blood, should they again be tempted to assemble at such places for criminal activities..." in Cod. Theod. XVI, 20, 21; by Honorius in September 410

So the new world had come. Now the Christians had to learn to live in it and direct it. Many, of course, played their part in the evolution of the Christian dialectic of history. Yet three men filled roles of special significance in it. They were Augustine, who elaborated the theory of the City of God as an idea and ideal to be set up in place of the failed City of Rome; Paul Orosius, who accepted a challenge from Augustine to compose a Christian History Against the Pagans (Historiae adversum paganos) to replace earlier histories and correct earlier historical theories; and the friend of them both, Jerome, whose main memorial has been the Latin version of the Bible bearing his name, but whose chief task he himself saw as one of education, involving him, together with the production of a Latin Bible, in the development of a system of Christian instruction (such as the Emperor Julian had proposed) to replace the methods and materials used in earlier times. In his letters, he frequently warned Christian friends against the dangers of Pagan literature: "what children are obliged to do", he once wrote of reading Pagan books, "it is a crime for you to do of your own free will." In other words, an ancient prohibition equivalent today to "don't try this at home." This sentence highlights the dilemma in which the Christians found themselves, as far as educators were concerned. There were still no Christian schools within imperial frontiers, nor in fact would there be for some time to come. But as future Christian administrators had to be educated, Christian children still attended Pagan schools, where they learned to read and write as imperial citizens had done for centuries; the alphabet first, then syllables, then wordlists made up principally of the names of the gods and heroes, and afterwards grammar and syntax from the myths themselves. Although the dangers to adults of any contact with Paganism was fully realized (and exaggeratedly stressed), children were permitted to use texts which adults viewed as criminal propaganda. It was this situation which Jerome set himself. There can be no doubt that when Augustine, Jerome and Orosius put themselves to the task of reforming the Christian's way of seeing the world, they were fully conscious of what they were doing. All had received extensive Pagan educations and were determined that theirs should be the last generation to be so burdened. As the old testament led to the new, the argument ran, so the Roman Empire was intended by God to prepare the way for the universal kingdom of Christ. Anyone standing in the way of this inevitable development can only expect to suffer. It is noteworthy that they were as strongly anti-Jewish as they were anti-Pagan. Augustine was the heavyweight Christian critic. His knockout punches come from being well versed in astrology, since he studied it before his conversion to Christianity. He employs both rational-scientific and spiritual arguments. He also accuses astrologers of slippery logic by attempting to justify astrology sometimes 10

as causes and other times as signs. He then clobbers them on either count. How? By saying that natal astrology could be disproved because twins and "time twins" (people born at the same moment from different mothers) have different destinies. If astrologers say that the stars cause our actions, this is determinism, taking away the free will of the soul at the heart of Christianity. Yet, when astrologers make successful predictions, they are aided by demons. The aim of demons is to seduce the soul into giving up its free will by accepting determinism. In this way demons subjugate the soul to the Pagan deities of the stars. "Astrology is congress with demons" or "the work of the Devil", which is the line taken by modern-day fundamentalists and the Vatican alike. The theme of inevitable suffering for all opponents recurs time and again in Christian literature. There is an especially explicit statement of it in Orosius' summing up of history from Constantine I to his own day: "Thus Constantine [Chlorus] having died, as I have said, Constantine became the emperor, the first Christian emperor apart from Philip, in the few years since when, it seems to me, Christians have increased to their present huge numbers: then a thousandth of all Romans worshipped Christ rather than idols, but from Constantine on, all emperors have been Christian down to today with the sole exception of Julian, whose unbelieving life earned for him, as they say, a deadly destiny. So the punishment of pagans is slow but sure: the healthy fall sick, the unwounded fall fighting one another, the laughing are made to weep, the full of life fail, some are secretly afflicted whom no man pursues..."

Later, in the text, Jerome sneers against Julian: "The Augustus Julian vomited up seven books against Christ while on a trip to Persia, and then chopped himself up with his own sword."

Living as they did after the sack of Rome and consequent dismay of the Pagans, Augustine and Orosius believed that total victory was possible in their own generation. Augustine directly related the genesis of his own most powerful attack on the credibility of the Pagans' world with the blow his god had struck at Rome through Alaric and his armies: "Rome was ruined by the agency of an invasion of the Visigoths under King Alaric, suffering great disaster - in reaction to which ruination those who cultivate the false gods and godlings, whom we generally call pagans, began at once to blaspheme even more pungently and bitterly against the true God than formerly, trying to put the blame on the Christian religion. Wherefore I began from zeal towards the house of God to write my books about 'the City of God' against their blasphemies and errors..."

What Augustine had to say in his twenty-two books about the City of God destined to replace divine Rome coloured all mediaeval thinking in the West and deeply influenced the protestant and puritan reformers. Although he would have denied that he was a fatalist, with no true concept of human freedom, his philosophy of history was in fact wholly mechanistic: he saw his god as inexorably redeeming the world in spite of itself, and acceptance of this fundamental Augustinian tenet was what fastened the fetters upon mediaeval Europe. Monks and bishops like John Chrysostom and Martin of Tours forced the destruction of the material treasures of the old world. Thinking men like Augustine squeezed men's minds into a new and constricting mould. It goes without saying that mythological terminology survived as a concomitant of astrological doctrine. Timid attempts were nevertheless made to abolish at least the pagan names of the zodiacal signs; we have already mentioned the effort to Christianize the names of the days of the week. Similarly, during the early Christian centuries, the "astrotheosophers" had wished to transform Cepheus into Adam, Cassiopeia into Eve, and Perseus into Logos, while the Priscillians had replaced the signs of the zodiac by the twelve patriarchs. In the Carolingian period, a certain "Hirenicus" tries, in turn, in a poem on the zodiac, to adjust the signs to Christian symbolism, turning Aries into the Lamb, etc. In the ninth century, in a manuscript now in the ecclesiastical archives of St. Gallen, Cancer has become Abraham; Aries, Job; and Leo, Daniel. But these 11

attempts were of no avail; on the contrary, the astronomer William of Conches proclaims the legitimacy of the stellar mythology, and the necessity of knowing it well. He tells us that certain authors have spoken of the astral bodies in terms of myth (mythice), mentioning Nimrod, Hyginus, and Aratus, and their accounts of the origin of the zodiacal signs - one example being Taurus, the bull (Jupiter) which abducted Europa. "This way of treating of celestial things is legitimate; without it we would not know in what part of the sky a given sign is located, how many stars it contains, nor how they are arranged." (As the De philosophia mundi of William of Conches has been falsely attributed to Bede, Honorius of Autun, and William of Hirschau, the Latin text must be sought in the Patrologia Latina, either in XC, 1127-1178 (Bedae opera, I bk. ii) or in the CLXXII, 39-102 (Hon. Aug. opera, II, V, quot modis auctoritas loquatur de superioribus). In the Roman world, there was an instant reaction even among the Christians against the narrowness of Augustinian concepts of sin and salvation. In Britain, the dangers of imposing a rigid doctrine of time and salvation on the world were quickly appreciated by a monk named Pelagius who realized that such expressions of Christian feeling as Augustine's prayer "Give me what you will" were altogether destructive of human freedom, and that the tendency of Christian teaching was towards rigid conformism and worse, a fatalism influenced by gnosticism and Manichee dualism. The Augustinian Christian might speak of a god "whose service is perfect freedom" but he was in danger of thinking for himself as free only to perform ritualistic acts of choice in servile obedience: the concept was no longer what it had been when the devotees of Venus had used the same phrase of the service they had offered to their goddess. In Rome before 410, then afterwards in Africa and in Palestine, Pelagius fought untiringly to preserve the concept of human free will in the face of virulent attacks by Augustine and Jerome. A church council was called in the east not so much to try as to condemn him. Significantly, the man chosen to prosecute him before it was Paul Orosius, whose dialectic of history excluded true freedom. The details of "The Pelagian Controversy" belong to Christian history: what must interest us here is that Pelagius' attack on Augustine was in essence a restatement of Plotinus' argument against Christian thinking as stated over a century earlier: "Providence cannot be of such a kind that we ourselves are nothing."

Plotinus was Augustine's chosen mentor, but he had failed to understand Plotinus here, as in so many other contexts. To Porphyry, Plotinus' disciple and companion, interpreter of his ideas, contemporary Christians were atheists because they knew nothing about the divine nature: in the years since Plotinus, they still had learned nothing about it. The fascinating thing is that Augustine and Pelagius reached their diametrically opposite views of the relation between man and his world from a very similar philosophical beginnings: both found the roots of their teachings not so much in the Christian Bible as in the ideas of Plotinus and Porphyry. The first book which Augustine wrote after becoming a Christian contains only one direct quotation from the Christian scriptures and that the most Hellenist of all Jesus' reported sayings, one worthy of the sophists of Julian's reign, "Seek and ye shall find"

It is much to be regretted that his intellectual grasp was so limited in some directions that once he had fixed on a fanatically narrow interpretation of the destiny of man and the universe, he resolutely closed his mind around it, shutting out any view whatsoever. Yet they were all pretty creepy men. At the age of nineteen, Augustine read Cicero, which converted him to philosphy - of which he often later wrote as though it were a religion in its own right. A little later, he became a Manichee, dedicated to beliefs he never afterwards wholly lost about the absolute power of evil and total corruption of the physical universe. From Carthage, he moved first to Rome where, flattered by the patronage of the elder Symmachus and the friendliness of the younger, he dropped his Manichee friends, dismissed his mistress, and planned to make an 12

advantagoeus marriage. It pained him afterwards to remember that he never quite succeeded in making himself acceptable as a Roman philosopher and sophisticate. He applied unsuccessfully for the professorship of rhetoric and was never fully admitted to that circle of friends which later writers distunguished ad the Aristocracy of Letters. One may wonder what part envy played in his subsequent development. Jerome was his slightly older contemporary, born about 348 at Stridon in Damaltia, but educated in Rome, where he was privileged to study under the great Pagan, Aelius Donatus, whose textbooks on grammar survived long into the middle ages. It was at Rome that he was baptized, although he studied Christian theology at Trier, the Greek language and its literature at Antioch, and Hebrew at a monastery in the desert near Calchis. Later, he returned to Rome, where he began his new Latin version of the bible, but in 386, after the death of pope Damascus, he was driven from the city by the enmity of Christians who believed that he had overstepped the bounds of acceptable underhandedness in his intrigues to have himself elected pope. Scornfully summing up his enemies' reasonably accurate estimate of his character in a letter to a friend, he wrote, 'I am notorius: I am deceitful, a slippery customer. I am a liar. I deceive with the arts of the devil."

Based on these words, from his own letters, it becomes clear that Jerome may have been better suited to becoming a satanic rapper. So Jerome withdrew to Bethlehem and founded a monastery, from where he issued the complete "vulgate" Bible, a chronicle continuing Eusebius' history of the church down to the year 381, a study of one hundred and thirty five Christian writers entitled de viris illustribus, numerous biblical studies, and a volume of correspondence unsurpassed in its antifeminism, antisemitism, and general vutuperation against every aspect of life and manners offensive to his own excessively narrow view of the world. Now this unpleasant man - okay, this total loser - also carried treasures from Rome into a new era. The purity of expression he had learned from his earliest teachers influenced generations of mediaeval scholars. He was a bundle of contradictions. Although very learned and proud of it, he claimed that his love of literature was a pain to him. In one letter, he wrote that he had had a dream in which he was accused at the gates of heaven of having lived as a Ciceronianus rather than a Christianus, and had since sworn never again to read "secular books". Yet later, when Rufinus accused him of having done precisely that, he defended the practice - although in another place he rejoiced that the old authors were being forgotten: "How few now read Aristotle. How many as much as know Plato's name? - to say nothing of his works! Even old men sitting in corners with nothing to occupy them can scarcely remember them."

This was basically wishful thinking on his part, yet it was a cause for boasting among Jerome's younger monastic contemporaries that they were ignorant of everything except Christian literature. Soon they were to force the world into ignorance also. The Early Church Fathers Loved Reincarnation

Here, I offer a brief examination of the historical evidence for the wide acceptance of reincarnation in the original Gospels. I know of no source more logical and lucid as a starting point than Leslie D. Weatherhead, M.A., Ph.D., Hon.D.D.; Minister of the City of Temple, London, and Honorary Chaplain to Her Majesty’s Forces. In his Psychology, Religion and Healing, (Abingdon Press) he states:

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The conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity in 325 A.D. was a very doubtful gain to the cause of Christ. He may have seen across in the sky surrounded by the words In Hoc Signo Vinces; but he produced a Christianity that dispensed with the Cross, and might as well have used a cushion as its symbol. The Name above every name had once been written on the pale foreheads of the young knights of Christ who had either died for him in their hundreds, or ridden forth to declare to a sneering and indifferent world the good news of the Gospel. That was over now. But it was a disaster that Constantine was ‘converted.’ Christianity became, in fact, a polite veneer without power or beauty. All the Court darlings were Christians now. The spineless sycophants who giggled out their fatuous days in the luxury of the Roman Court, and the sleek, shrewd parasites who battened on its energy and power, were ‘converted’ overnight. After all, what does one’s religion matter? The Emperor had been worshipped as a god until yesterday. If the Emperor changed his god – well, what of it? The Court was accommodating. If Christianity was the new fad, so be it. So men argued; and with as little concern as a modern bridge-party of lazy women learns in the midst of a hot afternoon that hearts, not spades, are to be trumps for the next game, the supine world around the Emperor learned that Christianity, the religion Nero persecuted, was to be officially adopted. "Paganism remained, but now it was labelled Christianity as it is today," Dr. Weatherhead concluded. "The religion of Christ has never recovered either, except for brief periods of revival; and without a nucleus of real saints (growing rarer in England but increasing overseas) it could not have survived." If we now turn to the genius of Voltaire, one of history’s greatest scholars, as well as founding father of democracy, we find that he anticipated Dr. Weatherhead’s argument with admirable acerbity. Voltaire’s style, like Shaw’s, is an abiding joy in itself, so I doubt if the following excerpts from his Philosophical Dictionary will seem excessive or obscure: Two or three antiquaries, either mercenaries or fanatics, enshrined the barbarous and effeminate Constantine, and treated the just and wise Emperor Julian as a miscreant. Subsequent chroniclers, copying from them, repeated both their flattery and their calumny. Finally the age of sound criticism arrived, and after fourteen hundred years, enlightened men reviewed the judgment of the ignorant. Constantine was revealed as an opportunist who scoffed at God and men. He had the insolence to pretend that God had placed in the heavens a sign assuring him of victory. He bathed in the blood of all his relatives and fell asleep in the lap of luxury... Here is how he reasoned: ‘Baptism purifies everything. I can therefore kill my wife, my son, and all my relatives. After that I can be baptized, and I shall go to Heaven.’ And he acted accordingly. But he was a Christian, and he was canonized... The Emperor Constantine was villain enough to send the venerable bishop Osius with conciliatory letters to both the warring factions, and when Osius met with rejection, the Council of Nicea was convened. The question to be considered was, whether or not Jesus Christ was created... Is Jesus the Word? If He is the Word, did He emanate from God in time, or before time? If He emanated from God, is He co-eternal, and consubstantial with Him: or is He of a similar substance? Is He made or begotten? And how is it that, if He has exactly the same nature and essence of the Father and the Son, He cannot do the same things as these two people who are himself? This I cannot understand. No one has ever understood it. And that is why so many people have been butchered... The final decision of the Council of Nicea was that the Son was as old as the Father and consubstantial with the Father…and war raged throughout the Roman Empire. This civil war gave rise to others, and down through the centuries to this day, internecine persecution has continued...

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Jesus taught no metaphysical dogmas. He wrote no theological treatises. He did not say ‘I am consubstantial; I have two wills and two natures with only one person.’ To the Cordeliers and the Jacobins, who were to appear twelve hundred years after him, he left the delicate and difficult task of deciding whether his mother was conceived in original sin. The Socinians, or Unitarians, call the acceptance of this doctrine of original sin the ‘original sin’ of Christianity. It is an outrage against God, they say... To dare to say that he created all the successive generations of mankind only to subject them to external punishment under the pretext that their earliest ancestor ate of a particular fruit, is to accuse him of the most absurd barbarity. This sacrilegious imputation is even more inexcusable among Christians, since there is no mention of original sin, either in the Pentateuch or in the Gospels; whether apocryphal, or canonical; or in any of the writers called the First Fathers of the Church. Souls were either created from all eternity (with the result that they are infinitely older than Adam’s sin and have no connection with it), or they are formed at the time of conception; in which case God must create in each instance a new spirit which He must then render eternally miserable; or God is Himself the soul of mankind, with the result that He is damned along with His system... For more than sixteen hundred years this incomprehensible doctrine of Arianism has given free rein to blind and sanguinary fanaticism, to barbarous credulity. It has produced more horrors than the ambition of princes, which has produced a goodly number...

By the end of the first century there were some thirty gospels, each belonging to a different society; and thirty sects of Christians had sprung up in Asia Minor, Syria, Alexandria and even in Rome... And finally Voltaire gets to the heart of the matter thus: None of the early Fathers of the Church cited a single passage from the four gospels as we accept them today. (They) not only failed to quote from the gospels, but they even adhered to several passages now found only in the apocrypal gospels rejected by the canon. Since many false gospels were at first thought to be true, those which today constitute the foundation or our own faith may have also been forged.

The first gospels must have contained teachings which the early Christians were prepared to preserve with their lives. Unfortunately they appear to have died in vain. Our orthodox versions of the Old and New Testaments date no further back than the 6th Century, when the Emperor Justinian summoned the Fifth Ecumenical Congress of Constantinople in 533 A.D. to expunge the Platonically inspired writings of Origen, an early Church Father, who had upheld reincarnation until his death three hundred years before. Origen was born in 185 A.D. under an obdurate star; but he was as intractably dedicated, in his way, as Theodora was ursinely dedicated in hers. He too was an extremist. To insure his abiding consecration to his chosen calling, he had had himself castrated. No act could have constituted a more studied affront to a woman like Theodora, even across centuries, and it was equally calculated to offend the ambivalent celibate in Justinian. In their imperial eyes, Origen was no better than a self-mutilated pariah; so his teachings would no doubt have been doomed in any case, regardless of their subject matter. Alas, his teachings were vital to the preservation of the original gospels.

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Origen’s pen had been as prolific as Voltaire’s; but according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, the ten books of Stromata, his most provocative work, have disappeared leaving almost no trace. This is of paramount significance, in that Origen occupied himself here in ”correlating the established Christian teachings with the ‘Christian’ dogmas of Plato, Aristotle, Numenius and Corrutus. The link that connects him with Churchly realism, as well as with the Neo-Platonic mysticism, is the conviction that certain knowledge rests wholly on divine revelation, i.e. on oracles. Origen states in his own Contra Celsum: Is it not more in conformity with reason that every soul, for certain mysterious reasons, (I speak now according to the opinion of Pythagoras and Plato, and Empedocles, whom Celsus frequently names), is introduced into a body according to its deserts and former actions? Is it not rational that souls who have used their bodies to do the utmost possible good should have a right to bodies endowed with qualities superior to the bodies of other? The soul, which is immaterial and invisible in its nature, exists in no material plane; accordingly, it at one time puts off one body, which was necessary before, but which is no longer adequate in its changed state, and it exchanges it for a second. And in his De Principiis: Every soul...comes into this world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the defeats of its previous life. Its place in this world as a vessel appointed to honor or dishonor, is determined by its previous merits or demerits. Its work in this world determines its place in the world which is to follow this. I am indeed of the opinion that as the end and consummation of the saints will be in those (ages) which are not seen, and are eternal, we must conclude that rational creatures had also a similar beginning...And if this is so, then there has been a descent from a higher to a lower condition on the part, not only of those souls who have deserved the change by the variety of their movements but also (on the part) of those who, in order to serve the whole world, were brought down from those higher and invisible spheres to these lower and visible ones, even against their will...The hope of freedom is entertained by the whole of creation - of being liberated from the corruption of slavery - when the sons of God, who either fell away or were scattered abroad, having fulfilled their duties in this world, shall be gathered into one. Exactly how did the Pagan philosophies of Pythagoras and Plato (who both were thoroughly Pagan and subscribed to reincarnation) complement the beliefs of the Early Christian Fathers? The views of Pythagoras (582-507 B.C.) exist only in his biographies by Diogenes Laertius and Iamlichus respectively; but the former quotes him as asserting that "he had received the memory of all his soul's transmigrations as a gift from Mercury, along with the gift of recollecting what his own soul, and the souls of others, had experienced between death and rebirth." (It is important to respect the distinction that these worthies made between metempsychosis - the dilatory migration of souls through sub-human shapes - and a series of progressive re-births in human form.)

From Plato (427-347 B.C.), we can obtain direct context: The soul of the true philosopher abstains as much as possible from pleasures and desires, griefs and fears...for in consequence of its forming the same opinions as the body, and delighting in the same things, it can never pass 16

into Hades in a pure state, but must ever depart polluted by the body, and so quickly falls into another body, and consequently is deprived of all association with that which is divine and pure and uniform. Know that if you become worse you will go to the worse souls, and if better, to the better souls; and in every succession of life and death you will do and suffer what like must fitly suffer at the hands of the like. Elsewhere Plato describes how disincarnate souls choose their new lives by drawing lots: Well, I will tell you a tale of what once happened to a brave man, Er, the son of Armenius, a native of Pamphylia, who, according to story, was killed in battle...On the twelfth day after his death, as he lay on the funeral pyre, he came to life again, and then proceeded to describe what he had seen in the other world... Each soul, as it arrived, wore a travel-stained appearance...and those who had descended from heaven by those who had risen out of the earth; while the latter were questioned by the former about the earth. Those who were come form earth told their tale with lamentations and tears, while those who were come from heaven described enjoyments and sights of marvellous beauty... Now the souls were required to go to Lachesis. An interpreter first of all marshalled them in order, and then having taken from the lap of Lachesis a number of lots and plans for life, mounted a high pulpit and spoke as follows...'Ye short-lived souls, a new generation of men shall here begin the cycle of its mortal existence. Your destiny shall not be alloted to you, (instead) you shall choose it for yourselves. Let him who draws the first lot be the first to choose a life, which shall then be his irrevocably. Virtue owns no master. He who honors Her shall have more of Her, and he who slights Her, less. The responsibility lies with the chooser. Heaven is guiltless.' Having said this, he threw the lots down upon the crowd; and each spirit took up the one which fell at his side, except Er himself, who was forbidden to do so...This, my dear Claucon, is apparently a moment when everything is at stake with a man; and for this reason, above all others, it is the duty of each of us diligently to investigate and study, to the neglect of every other subject, that science which may haply enable a man to learn and discover who will render him so instructed as to be able to form a judgment from all these data combined, and, with an eye steadily fixed on the nature of the soul, to choose between the good and evil life, giving the name evil to the life which will draw the soul into becoming more unjust, and the name of good to the life which will lead it to become more just, and bidding farewell to every other consideration. It was truly a wonderful sight, he said, to watch how each soul selected its life - a sight at once melancholy, and ludicrous, and strange. The experience of their former life generally guided the choice...It so happened that the soul of Odysseus had drawn the last lot of all. When he came up to choose, the memory of his former sufferings had so abated his ambition, that he went about a long time looking for a quiet, retired life, which with great trouble he finally discovered (where it had been thrown conteptuously aside by the others). As soon as he saw it, he chose it gladly, and said tha he would have done the same even if he had drawn the first lot... Now, when all the souls had chosen their lives in order of the lots...they all took up their quarters by the bank of the river of Indifference, where waters cannot be held in any vessel. All persons are compelled to drink a certain quantity of the water; (those who are not preserved by prudence drink more than their allotted measure); and each, as he drinks, forgets everything. when they had gone to rest, and it was now midnight, there was a clap of thunder and an earthquake; an in a moment the souls were carried up to their birth, this way and that, like shooting stars. Er himself was prevented from drinking any of the water; but how, and by what road, he reached his body, he knew not: only he knew that he suddenly opened his eyes at dawn, and found himself laid out upon the funeral pyre. The Republic, (Book X)

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In the opinion of your author, Plato was accurate when he taught that the soul "plans for life", choosing its next incarnation. Your author holds that the soul, while resting between lives in what some call Summerland and others call Purgatory, studies many potential birthcharts, and chooses its next natal planetary makeup based on the stage that it has progressed to through its journey thus far. These stages are called Love Mysteries, and are most clearly illustrated by the famous American poet-astrologer Linda Goodman in her bestseller Love Signs. Each Love Mystery is a stage in the soul's journey. Once the soul picks its horoscope (which is the correct term for "birthchart" and not as another word for "daily forecast"), it chooses its parents, and then incarnates into a flesh body to answer the questions that it was not able to answer in its previous incarnation. Thus, the body is truly the temple of the soul. Linda Goodman also reminds us that the ancients believed that the best way to determine what Sun Sign a person was in their previous lifetime is to look at the present sign of natal Saturn. The planet Saturn is at once the sublime and never-changing source of measure not only on Earth with respect to mathematics and to sacred geometry, yet also for the measurement of the soul's progress. No astrologer disputes that the most significant transit to occur first in the lifetime of all human beings is the Saturn Return at age 29. Yet a more thorough astrological interpretation of the soul's journey is beyond the scope of this article. It should also be established here that St. Jerome once impulsively hailed Origen as "the greatest teacher of the Church since the Apostles." This is hardly plausible if the New Testament was then as ambiguous in its references to reincarnation as it is now. Surely for Origen to have held pride of place among the Early Church Fathers for nearly four centuries his tenets must have been based solidly on what at that time were accepted as true gospels. St. Jerome also asserted the following: As to the origin of the soul, I remember the question of the whole church; whether it be fallen from heaven, as Pythagoras and the Matonists and Origen believe; or be of the proper substance of God, as the Stoics, Manicheans and Pricillian heretics of Spain believe...I think a divine habitation, and a true rest above, is to be understood; where rational creatures dwelt, and where, before the removal from invisible to visible, they enjoyed a former blessedness.

St. Clement of Alexandria (150-220), in his Exhortation to the Pagans is also clearly influenced by Plato: We were in being long before the foundation of the world; we existed in the eye of God, for it is our destiny to live in Him. We are the reasonable creatures of the Divine Word; therefore we have existed from the beginning, for in the beginning was the Word...Not for the first time does He show pity on us in our wanderings; He pitied us from the very beginning.

To St. Jerome's and St. Augustine's views on Plato must be added those of St. Gregory (257-332), who affirmed that "it is absolutely necessary that the soul should be healed and purified, and if this does not take place during its life on earth, it must be accomplished in future lives." St. Augustine (354-430) held Plato in such veneration that he writes in his Contra Academicos: The message of Plato, the purest and most luminous of all philosophy, has at last scattered the darkness of error, and now shines forth mainly in Plotinus, a Platonist so like his master that one would think they lived together, or rather - since so long a period of time separates them - that Plato was born again in Plotinus.

To come full circle, Plotinus (205-270) was a fellow-disciple with Origen under Ammonius, who founded the famous Alexandrian School of Neoplatonism in Egypt in 193. 18

Plotinus, in The Descent of the Soul, is perhaps the most articulate and expressive: Thus the soul, though of divine origin, having proceeded from the regions on high, becomes merged in the dark receptacle of the body, and being naturally a post-diluvial god, it descends hither through a certain voluntary inclination, for the sake of power and of adorning inferior concerns. By this means it receives a knowledge of evil, unfolds its latent powers, and exhibits a variety of operations peculiar to its nature, which, by perpetually abiding in an incorporeal habit and never proceeding into energy, would have been bestowed in vain. Yet our souls are able alternately to rise from hence, carrying back with them an experience of whatthey have known and suffered in their fallen state; from whence they will learn how blessed it is to abide in the intelligible world, and by a comparison of contraries, will more plainly perceive the excellence of a superior state. For the experience of evil produces a clearer knowledge of good...the whole of our soul does not enter in the body, but something belonging to it always abides in the intelligible world, somethign different from this sensible world: and that which abides in the world of sense does not permit us to perceive that which the supreme part of the soul contemplates. For every soul possesses something which inclines towards the body, and something which tends upward towards intellect - but the superior part of the soul is never influenced by fraudulent delights, and lives a life always uniform and divine.

Here we have the testimony of four Saints - not laymen, but Saints - of the early Church. They cannot all have had bees in their bonnets; nor would they have embraced beliefs that were hostile to the contemporary tenets of their own church. They repeatedly refer to the "Christian" dogmas of the thoroughly Pagan philosopher Plato; so they obviously subscribed to the belief that Christ had included them in His own philosophy.

Those who found no help in churches of their faith turned to other beliefs for guidance and inspiration. They revived old cults, pondered the scriptures ofother nations, worshipped at strange shrines, and received with open arms the missionaries of Eastern religions. The churches stormed against these heathen practices, but the fault lay at their own door. Men who have discovered the answers to their questions will seek no further; but those who have not found what they need will go on searching, and no power in heaven or earth can stop them. ~ Manly Palmer Hall, Healing - The Divine Art

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