Perennial Cosmology

The Pillar of the Worlds

"As above, so below", is the wording of the famous hermetic maxim from "Tabula Smaragdina". Although often and lightly cited by the many who, more or less seriously, occupy themselves with astrology and other related disciplines, the sentence is rarely subjected to a serious interpretation of its crucial meaning. The meaning of this maxim lies within the so – called axial symbolism of the hermetic cosmology according to which the whole created cosmos is depicted through the vertical relationship of different degrees of existence and manifestation which are linked by the same law of the "primary movement" (Primum Mobile). The universe is strictly hierarchical and man holds the middle position on this vertical line, thus implying the existence of the worlds above and below his position. The famous maxim depicts the universal truth that the Earth represents the reflection of the higher transcendental worlds, and that the worlds below the Earth are its reflections which become increasingly more ‘corrupted’ forms of the former ideal the lower we get on the axis of existence. The axis of the worlds, around which the earthly, human sphere revolves is, according to the original law, unchangeably directed toward the cosmological north, beginning in the point of the northern tropic, according to metaphysical astronomy/astrology (Capricorn’s solstice) also known as "the Sun’s gate" or the "the gate of cosmos", while the opposite point in the summer solstice is termed "the gate of generation", that is, "the path of the fathers", leading from the north towards cosmological south (existence). In hermetic astrology, the axis itself is symbolized by the Sun, by its central heavenly position, whereas the southern gate (the beginning of Cancer) has a connection with the Moon, the first sphere dividing man from the higher worlds. The pillar around which the worlds revolve is only a conceptual expression which describes the primary light - beam of divine emanation, or, stated in Biblical terms, the beam of Genesis. All the worlds in the hierarchy of existence are created with the purpose of God’s revelation to himself, from the absolute transcendence, over the level of angelic, to human – transient and corruptible below which are all the rests of the creation (the sub - manifested and the chaotic). One of the obligatory implications deriving from the astrological cosmology concerns the "necessity" of the immutability of its cosmos consisting in the 7 traditional planets of the visible sky. The main characteristic of the modern astrology is precisely the altered cosmological structure, ranging up to its absolute negation. The traditional astrology is inseparable from this notion because it was believed (until 19th century) that it represents the link between human and angelic spheres. Roger Bacon, English philosopher from the 13th century, also known as "Doctor Mirabilis" in his "Opus Majus" stated that the angels: "Represent spiritual substances which we designate as intelligences and angels because intelligence is the name of the nature, and an angel is the name of the function.".

The Platonists perceived angels as those natures of existence which take part directly both in God’s mind and in the comprehension of heavenly essences (the quality) of things. On the axis of the worlds these intelligences are "above" the human position, exempted from the carnal and the suffering which characterizes man’s position in cosmos, likened to the stars irradiated by primordial light. The angelical, according to cosmological notion, is a concept which designates the function of intelligences, that is, their "radiating" nature toward the realm of man and toward everything which is situated "below" them in the cosmological hierarchy. In Judeo-Christian religious tradition angelic worlds are divided into three spheres: the sphere of lower degree of constitution which corresponds to purification and to which all the angels, archangels and principates belong, then comes the sphere of the intermediate degree of illumination corresponding to the empires, virtues and forces and last, the sphere of the perfect angelic constitution which consist of the worlds of cherubim, seraphim and the throne. In the summary overview of cosmology, the angelic corresponds to the ocean "above the heavens" or, in the words of Picco de la Mirandola from "Heptaplus":

"The highest constitution’s repose is only for thinking, it is properly symbolized by the waters situated above the heavens, that is, above all the actions concerning the worldly (cosmological), be they heavenly or earthly, and they praise God incessantly, with a perpetual song. Since the intermediate line is ascribed to the workings of heaven, its best symbolical representation is the firmament, that is, the sky. The final constitution, although by its nature situated above everything, even above the heavens, still governs everything which is below the heavens. Since it is divided into principates, archangels and angels, all their actions concern exclusively the realm below the Moon." (“The Song of the Cosmos”, Arthur Versluis, IP ESOTHERIA, 2005, Belgrade, Serbia)

Five centuries after this renaissance philosopher, Titus Burckhardt in "Mystical Astrology" states that the seven planets of the traditional cosmos are intermediaries between the Earth and the heaven of the fixed stars, leading us to the conclusion that they mediate between man and the angels. Ibn Arabi, whose thought is the subject of Burckhardt’s book, wrote on this:

"Man supersedes the other basic species just because he is moulded by the God’s two hands. Because of that, his species is nobler than any other produced by the elements, which means that man possesses dignity more superior than both the earthly angels (ghosts) and heavenly angels which inhabit the seven heavenly spheres consisting of fine elements, while the superior angels are better than human kind." ("Mystical Astrology According to Ibn Arabi", Titus Burckhardt, Fons Vitae, 2001, Louisville, USA)

The angels of the seven heavenly spheres correspond to the creation of the seven traditional planets whose spheres reflect the fine reality of the first (lower) transcendence, between the higher transcendence and the ephemeral cosmos of time and space. Saturn is thus brought into connection with Cassiel, Jupiter with Zadkiel, Mars with Samael, the Sun with archangel Michael, Venus with Anael, Mercury with Raphael and the Moon with Gabriel. Hence, astrology was created and given to man and it functions only in his part of the cosmos, in the centre of the axis of the worlds whose purpose is the ascension toward the absolute transcendence and overcoming of the cosmos, in the final instance. Any change in the number of the astrological planets disrupts this order and "takes away" the angelic role from astrology.

Modern astrology lacks any kind of cosmology, in it (purposefully or not) all the cosmological spheres, planetary principles and the elements of the manifested cosmos are made equal, for if this weren’t so, neither could Uranus, the mythical heaven of all the stars (all the potentialities of the creation) be reduced to a single principle of temporal manifestation in human cosmos, nor could mythical Neptune, from the lower level of the elemental manifestation, be "exalted" into the angelic sphere, that is, onto the level of the astrological planetary principle. The most dangerous thing was done (un)consciously when Pluto, the mythical god of the underworld, was "exalted" into the human cosmos, disrupting irreparably the cosmic hierarchy. In a certain way, this was a great magical intervention on the level of astrology. Owing to the "destruction" of the cosmic ladder, which caused, as a consequence, the dislocation of the worlds of the transcendent, temporal and sub-manifested, the human cosmos becomes infested with something that cannot be found in time and space, because neither the summary of the archetypal sphere of zodiac can be reduced to a planet, nor the heaven above this cosmos can be lowered into it. That modern astrology is magic is proved not only by the reversal of the cosmic axis ( for how else can we explain the equation between the sub-manifested world of mythical Pluto and the transcendental world of the all-encompassing Uranian firmament with the functions of the 7 planets of traditional cosmos of time and space) but also by an idea expressed by Alistair Crowley, one of the founders of modern astrology:

”Since the substance is one, singular and self-conscious, it cannot manifest itself in any way while in this particular state. It would be absurd to investigate the reasons of her appearance in any other state, because the reason lies not in the quality belonging to this singularity ... the dualistic principle of its manifestation, magnificent as it is, reaches the boundaries of the human mind, because the mind in itself is dualistic, our conscious being consists of the subjective and the objective." ("Astrology with the studies of Neptune and Uranus", Alistair Crowley, IP Esotheria, 1990, Belgrade, Serbia)

Up to this point, everything is fine, in accordance with traditional cosmology and there’s nothing new in the disclosure of the dualistic principle of existence, but in the following statement we can discern the magical principle of unnatural intervention: "It is possible to dissociate this duality and to unify it again in a mystical manner ..." a direct and unambiguous magical implication of Crowley’s Uranian astrology. It aims at a forced joining of particular principles of manifested cosmos, situated beyond the transcendental, in order to arrive at the throne on the top of the cosmic axis via shortcut. Astrology, as an integral part of traditional culture, functions according to the principle of sympathy implicating the indestructible bond between the 7 planets of traditional cosmos and the whole nature. By transporting these bonds into his own life and the world surrounding him according to a proper model, man becomes the "redeemer of the nature", thus fulfilling the assigned role of the mediator between the cosmic worlds. In this manner he returns into the state of heavenly balance and gets closer to the archetypal sphere of the Zodiac. The increase in the number of the planets in the astrological cosmos distances man from the centre, thus making the purpose of astrology in his life unclear and blurred.

Author: Natasa Karalic Koprivica

"The controls of life are structured as forms and nuclear arrangements, in a relation with the motions of the universe."

(Louis Pasteur, French biologist, microbiologist and chemist)