The Wedding of Astrology and Kabbalah: Stars and Spheres
The following is an excerpt from Cosmic Navigator by Gahl Sasson:
The author of Sefer Yetzirah —tradition suggests it was Abraham, the first mono- theist of the Old Testament—provides precise associations between the zodiac signs and the Hebrew letters, yoking astrology to the sacred letters of the Torah. This manuscript details how God deployed the archetypal energies of the ten-sphered Kabbalistic Tree of Life and the twenty-two Hebrew letters to create the universe (see chapter 5).
The Midrash, a collection of Jewish myths and legends, tells us that King Solomon wore a magical ring engraved with Hebrew letters that afforded him the power to speak with animals. Since the word zodiac in Greek means “the wheel of animals,” one can say that King Solomon’s capacity to converse with animals referred to his ability to speak the language of the
signs—to converse with rams (Aries), bulls (Taurus), lions (Leo), scorpions (Scorpio), horses (Sagittarius), goats (Capricorn), dolphins (Pisces), and so forth. Maybe King Solomon really did communicate with animals, but perhaps the fable is simply a metaphoric testament to the wise king’s remarkable ability to speak to, persuade, befriend, and make peace with every single person, no matter his or her sign. King Solomon was also famed as being the wisest men ever born, and I believe his wisdom derived from mastering the art of astrology and Kabbalah. His ring and his ability to master animal speech might hint at his astrological aptitude.
King David, according to tradition the author of the Old Testament book of Psalms and whose name is mentioned more than that of any other person in the Bible, embodies another example of the relationship between Kabbalah and astrology: the Star of David, a six-pointed star comprised of two inter- locking triangles, one facing upwards and the other pointing down. In Hebrew, the Star of David is called Magen David, or the shield of David.
While most people assume that David carved this symbol into his battle shield just as the Indianapolis Colts paint a horseshoe onto their football helmets, Jewish mystics ascribe a deeper import to the six-pointed logo. These mystics tell us that at the moment of King David’s birth, six planets were aligned in a rare astrological formation that created a perfect six-pointed star within his astrological chart. This auspicious alignment— which I have witnessed just once in all of the thousands of charts I have ever read— astrologically reflected the protection King David enjoyed throughout his long, pro- ductive life. Hence “the [planetary] shield of David.” Today, this ancient link between the two disciplines is proudly displayed on the flag of the modern state of Israel.
The Zohar, or the Book of Splendor, another crucial work of Kabbalistic lore (writ- ten in thirteenth-century Spain), adds further details to the intricate relationship between the Hebrew letters and the astrological symbols. This book classifies the Hebrew letters as the DNA of the universe, the building blocks of existence. It asserts that the Creator first fashioned the twenty-two letters and then with them manufactured all of life. Kabbalah teaches us that just as God used the archetypal letters to create the cosmos, any of us can create whatever we need in our own universe.
The book of Genesis depicts an enchanting example of the power of this hybrid system. Abraham, the so-called patriarch of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, was not always called Abraham. His given name was Abram. His wife’s name was Sarai. And no matter how often they tried, they could not have children. One day, God felt sorry for Abram and urged him to “walk the talk.”
God said, “You wrote a book on the Hebrew letters and their connection to the astrological signs. Maybe it’s time to put the Hebrew letters to work for you.”Abram was skeptical. Though God had kept promising that he would father many nations, he had passed his 100th birthday, and still he and Sarai had no children. But he decided to give the letters a whirl. He sank into a deep meditation, summoning all the Hebrew letters one by one. When he arrived at the letter ‘Hey’ h[ ,] he stopped and said to himself, “Hey, wait a minute. This is the letter of Aries, the sign that rules the sowing of seeds and the season of spring. Aries is the thing I need to up my dwindling sperm count. I will add the letter Hey to my name and my wife’s name too (after all, she’s ninety years old), and the power of Aries will bring some spring to our seeds.”
He inserted the H[ ey (H). Abram became AbraHam, and Sarai turned into SaraH. A few months later, Sarah began to crave pickles and ice cream. The conception of Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah, seems to be the first reference to an individual invoking the tools of Kabbalistic astrology to change his fate. And it marks the Sefer Yetzirah as the first self-help book ever published on planet earth.
In part III of this book, you will find the particular Hebrew letters that will con- nect you to the archetypal power of each of the zodiac’s twelve signs. By using these potent symbols as keys to accessing the energy of skies, you too will be able to man- ifest your dreams and transcend the confines of your astrological fate. This magic will transform you into a mystic, a creator. And rather than leaving yourself to be buf- feted by the fatalistic luck of the astrological lotto, you, like Abraham, can become the master of your own destiny.
Giving and Receiving Light
Kabbalah in Hebrew means both “to receive” and “to accept.” These mystical Judaic teachings avow that life is a dance between giving and receiving. They show us how to accept light, love, or any other form of energy. And, most importantly, they instruct us on how to share this energy with others. Kabbalah challenges us to create a balance in our lives—to receive as much as we give, to give as much as we receive. For example, someone who invites a hundred people to his birthday party, relishes all of the gifts he amasses, but then mysteriously leaves town whenever his friends’ birthdays roll around, is not a good Kabbalist. On the other hand, a saintly woman who continually offers her tender loving care to others but denies them the chance to help her lives in a similar state of disequilibrium.
Kabbalah views life as circular, nonlinear, and everlasting. When a person receives a gift and enthusiastically appreciates it, for example, he offers the giver an even greater gift. This gratitude generates a feeling of satisfaction in the giver that might very well exceed the value of the original present. Put more simply, Kabbalah is the spiritual art of receiving in order to give.
The Yin and Yang of Kabbalah and Astrology
Astrology similarly teaches us how to receive—specifically, how to receive the light and the energy of the sun, the moon, and the planets in order to share them with the entire universe. The moon and the planets signify diverse and sometimes contradictory energies, yet for billions of years these celestial bodies have peacefully shared the love and warmth of the sun. Astrology urges us to mimic this example of harmonious existence.
It designates the sun as the primary giver. In your own chart, the location of the sun represents the place in your life where you exude energy and vitality. Your sun sign illuminates your style of self-expression, how you radiate outward. Since the moon, in actuality, receives and then reflects the energy emitted by the sun, your moon sign provides clues to how effectively you receive light and energy. Thus, the moon epitomizes the primary principle of Kabbalah: it receives the light of the sun solely to give it back to all of us here on earth when we need it the most. In the darkness of the night, it is the moon that lights our way.
Humans first recognized the sun and the moon, the two most conspicuous astrological bodies in the sky, as polarities, and up until about 12,000 years ago humanity had divided itself of necessity into two corresponding groups: lunar and solar, yin and yang.
The solar energy, typified by the masculine side of humanity or existence, engaged in venturing out, like the rays of the sun, to protect the clan, hunt for food, explore new territory, achieve fame and glory, and play around. Masculine energy is found in the zodiac signs Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, Libra, Aquarius, and Gemini. An arrow that shoots through the sky, a spear thrown far into the distance, or a rocket that soars to the moon all embody the energy of these macho archetypes. Masculine energy might have manifested in early human times as a bunch of hunters chasing a mammoth and might manifest today as some public relations company launching a presidential campaign.
The feminine or lunar energy, represented by Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo, Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces, manifested in those humans who adopted the tasks of collecting and gathering nuts, fruits, and medicinal herbs that grew naturally near their caves. The cave represented the womb and all it implies: home, nurturing, and security, both physical and emotional. The feminine side of humanity tended to the newborns and the injured hunters and developed innovative ways to heal. Kabbalah considers the feminine energy as receptive, a vessel that welcomes and contains the exploratory masculine force. It facilitates the magic of birth. The feminine egg receives the masculine sperm and the result is a new life. The sperm, which vigorously travels to a new world, is assimilated by the vessel called the ovum, which then becomes a whole new being.
The masculine signs—Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius—are generally more active, expressive, outgoing, childlike, and playful than the femi- nine signs. Their purpose is to explore the world and deliver what they discover to the feminine signs. The feminine signs—Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo, Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces—are more introverted, deep, practical, and intimate. They receive the gifts and experiences hunted by the masculine signs and find practical applications that improve life. Those with these signs are generally more mature, responsible, and reliable than the masculine signs.
In Kabbalah, the masculine force is associated with giving as well as the right side of the body. From now on, when you want to give someone a present, a check, or a bottle of catsup, try doing so with your right hand and notice what happens. You will see that whatever you gave was received more openly. Whenever you receive a gift from someone or change from a cashier, accept it with your left, fem- inine hand—the hand astrologically as well as Kabbalistically designed to receive. Receiving with your left hand you are sending a message to the universe that you accept the gift and are in gratitude. This reinforces the universe to give you even more.
Astrology Hidden in Everyday Words
“The situation in Iraq is a disaster,” commented the political correspondent.
“Mazal tov!” a renowned scientist shouted to his friend during a birthday party.
Both of the individuals above called on astrological terminology to make their points. The first chose the word disaster, which in Greek means “against the stars.” The ancient Greeks, who were instrumental in bringing Babylonian astrology to the West, believed that events that violate the harmonious orbit of the stars signified bad news. For them, the orbit of the planets was symbolic of perfection; they called this silent symphony “the music of the spheres.” Anything that proved incongruous with such perfection was inevitably deemed disastrous.
The scientist who toasted his friend with mazal tov unwittingly dipped into the realm of astrology as well. The skeptical man of science probably would be appalled to learn that the Hebrew phrase mazal tov translates to “may a benevolent astrological constellation shine upon you.” These common expressions illustrate how deeply astrology has embedded itself into everyone’s lives, even the lives of those who might judge astrology as nothing but hogwash.
Is Astrology Real?
We wish to caution the public against the unquestioning acceptance of the predictions and advice given privately and publicly by astrologers.
—A statement of 186 scientists signed in 1975
Let me be frank. There is no scientific proof of the efficacy of astrology. But that does not mean that astrology does not work or that it is not a great tool for analyzing cycles and understanding life. No one knows how love works, and yet we all believe in love. No one has definitely proven the existence of God, and yet the overwhelming majority of the population of earth strongly believes in God. My attitude towards the validity of astrology can be summed by the words of Alexander Graham Bell: “What this power is I cannot say. All I know is that it exists.”