Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Precession of the Equinoxes

We all know that the Earth spins like a top. Like a top, it wobbles a little bit while it spins. The main effect of this wobbling is that the position of the constellations on a particular night changes very slightly each year. Astronomers have noticed that this was taking place for millennia, although ancient people weren't aware that the Earth was spinning, or that it revolved around the Sun.

One complete wobble of the Earth's top takes approximately 25,765 years, called a Great Year. This is divided into twelve ages, each lasting 2,150 years, named for the constellation of the zodiac in which the sun rises on the morning of the spring equinox.
The culture of precession appears in the most unlikely places, including the Bible, even as astrology is explicitly forbidden. Biblical times are divided into three ages, and Jesus foreshadows a fourth age which we have not yet entered.

Consider the following:

4300 BC - 2150 BC = Age of Taurus

2150 BC - 1 AD = Age of Aries

1 AD - 2150 AD = Age of Pisces

2150 AD - 4300 AD = Age of Aquarius

The Age of Taurus occurs just before the beginning of Old Testament Times. Although Israel was not yet a nation, we do see a lot of bulls in culture from this period. Mythical Daedelus built a labyrinth to capture the Minotaur, a monster who was half bull and half man. Minoan art is filled with images of bulls.

When Moses comes down from Mount Sinai, he is shocked to find his people worshipping a golden bull, which he destroys. The religion of the ancient Jews contains more imagery of Aries, the ram. Worship began when a priest blew on a ram's horn. Abraham found a ram trapped in a thorn bush before sacrificing his son Isaac.

This image of the ram replacing the bull even extends outside of Judaism: the pre-Christian god Mithra kills a bull, and is often portrayed riding on a ram or wearing ram's horns.

The ram is replaced around the time of the birth of Christ, which coincides with the beginning of the Age of Pisces.His first disciples are fishermen. He divides two fish to feed thousands during one of his miracles. After his ressurection, his disciples see him on the beach cooking fish for breakfast. Even the earliest Christian symbol, predating the cross, was the sign of the fish. In other words, fish symbolism is very common in the New Testament, and throughout the Age of Pisces, which we are still in today.

"And lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the age."
-Matthew 28:20

Jesus predicted the coming of a fourth age. When his disciples ask him where the Passover will be held after he is gone, he says, "Behold, when you enter the city, there shall a man meet you bearing a pitcher of water. Follow him into the house where he enters." This man is the constellation of Aquarius, whose house Earth will enter in 2150.

Precession occurs very gradually: ancient astronomers must have kept records for thousands of years to have realized that it was occuring. Although we do not experience its effects in every day life, it leaves it subtle imprint on many aspects of our art, literature, thought, and culture.

For my previous posts on astronomy, click here.
There's an interesting video on precession in religion at You Tube. You can watch it here.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great blog, and good explanations...I was aware of this to some extent due to my father's interest in Astrology.

Terry said...

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Hansisgreat said...

Thanks for the nice compliments, guys.

Most people who are interested in astrology aren't aware that the zodiac constellations do not line up with their corresponding astrological houses. This is partly due to precession, but also because the constellations aren't all the same size: we've divided the year into twelve signs of equal length, but the Sun passes through Scorpio in only 7 days, while the more massive constellation of Virgo takes 44 days. Many people, therefore, weren't really born under what we would consider their "sun sign".
Additionally, most Christians don't seem aware that there's so much astrology hidden in the Bible, if you know where to look.

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