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Astrolatry

Astrolatry

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Astrolatry is the worship of stars and other heavenly bodies
Heavenly Body
is a yaoi manga anthology by Takashi Kanzaki and published by Daitosha. It is licensed in English by Aurora Publishing, which released the manga in August 2008.-Reception:...

 as deities
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

, or the association of deities with heavenly bodies.
The most common instances of this are sun gods and moon gods in polytheistic systems worldwide. Also notable is the association of the planet
Planet
A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.The term planet is ancient, with ties to history, science,...

s with deities in Babylonian
Babylonian religion
Babylonian religion is the religious practice of the Babylonians, from the Old Babylonian period in the Middle Bronze Age until the rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in the Early Iron Age....

, and hence in Greco-Roman religion, viz. Mercury
Mercury (mythology)
Mercury was a messenger who wore winged sandals, and a god of trade, the son of Maia Maiestas and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is related to the Latin word merx , mercari , and merces...

, Venus
Venus
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

, Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

, Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

 and Saturn
Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

.

The term astro-theology is used in the context of 18th to 19th century scholarship aiming at the discovery of the original religion
Urreligion
Urreligion is a notion of an "original" or "oldest" form of religious tradition. The term contrasts with organized religion, such as the theocracies of the early urban cultures of the Ancient Near East or current world religions.The term originates in German Romanticism...

, particularly primitive monotheism
Urmonotheismus
Urmonotheismus or primitive monotheism is the hypothesis of a monotheistic Urreligion, from which non-monotheistic religions degenerated...

. Unlike astrolatry, which usually implies polytheism
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

, frowned upon as idolatrous
Idolatry
Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although...

 by Christian authors since Eusebius, astrotheology is any "religious system founded upon the observation of the heavens", and in particular, may be monotheistic
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

.

Astrolatry


Babylonian astronomy from early times associates stars with deities, but the heavens
Heavens
Heavens was an independent rock band featuring Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio and Josiah Steinbrick. The duo signed to Epitaph Records and released their debut album, Patent Pending, on September 12, 2006....

as the residence of an anthropomorphic pantheon, and later of monotheistic God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 and his retinue of angels, is a later development, gradually replacing the notion of the pantheon residing or convening on the summit of high mountains.

Sayce (1913) argues a parallelism of the "stellar theology" of Babylon and Egypt, both countries absorbing popular star-worship into the official pantheon of their respective state religions by identification of gods with stars or planets.

Astrolatry does not appear to have been common in the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 prior to the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

, and becomes popular under Assyrian influence.
The Sabaeans
Sabaeans
The Sabaeans or Sabeans were an ancient people speaking an Old South Arabian language who lived in what is today Yemen, in the south west of the Arabian Peninsula.Some scholars suggest a link between the Sabaeans and the Biblical land of Sheba....

 were notorious for their astrolatry, for which reason the practice is also known as "Sabaism" or "Sabaeanism".
Similarly, the Chaldea
Chaldea
Chaldea or Chaldaea , from Greek , Chaldaia; Akkadian ; Hebrew כשדים, Kaśdim; Aramaic: ܟܐܠܕܘ, Kaldo) was a marshy land located in modern-day southern Iraq which came to briefly rule Babylon...

ns came to be seen as the prototypical astrologers and star-worshippers by the Greeks.

Astrology
Hellenistic astrology
Hellenistic astrology is a tradition of horoscopic astrology that was developed and practiced in Hellenistic Egypt and the Mediterranean, whose texts were written in Greek , mainly around the late 2nd or early 1st century B.C.E...

 in the Hellenistic period
Hellenistic period
The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic era describes the time which followed the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was so named by the historian J. G. Droysen. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia...

 grew out of Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

ern and Egyptian practices of astrolatry. Mithraism
Mithraism
The Mithraic Mysteries were a mystery religion practised in the Roman Empire from about the 1st to 4th centuries AD. The name of the Persian god Mithra, adapted into Greek as Mithras, was linked to a new and distinctive imagery...

 was a Roman era mystery religion which incorporated many aspects of arcane astral lore derived from Hellenistic astrology.

Prohibition in Abrahamic religions


The Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 contains repeated reference to astrolatry. Thus, Deuteronomy 4:19, 17:3 contains a stern warning against worshipping the sun, moon, stars or any of the heavenly host
Heavenly host
Heavenly host refers to an army of good angels mentioned in the Bible. It is led either by the Archangel Michael, Jesus, or by God himself. Most descriptions of angels in the Bible describe them in military terms, such as encampment , command structure , and combat...

.
Relapse into worshipping the host of heaven, i.e. the stars, is said to have been the cause of the fall of the kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

 in II Kings 17:16.
King Josiah
Josiah
Josiah or Yoshiyahu or Joshua was a king of Judah who instituted major reforms. Josiah is credited by most historians with having established or compiled important Jewish scriptures during the Deuteronomic reform that occurred during his rule.Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after...

 in 621 BC is recorded as having abolished all kinds of idolatry in Judah, but astrolatry was continued in private (Zeph. 1:5; Jer. 8:2, 19:13).
Ezekiel
Ezekiel
Ezekiel , "God will strengthen" , is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet...

 (8:16) describes sun-worship practiced in the court of the temple of Jerusalem, and Jeremiah (44:17) claims that even after the destruction of the temple, women in particular insisted on continuing their worship of the "queen of heaven".

Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 criticized sun- and star-worship in De Vera Religione (37.68) and De civitate Dei (5.1-8).
Pope Leo the Great also denounced astrolatry, and the cult of Sol Invictus
Sol Invictus
Sol Invictus was the official sun god of the later Roman empire. In 274 Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. Scholars disagree whether the new deity was a refoundation of the ancient Latin cult of Sol, a revival of the cult of Elagabalus or completely new...

, which he contrasted with the Christian nativity.

The Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 contains strong prohibitions against astrolatry.

Astro-theology


Astrotheology is the study of the astronomical origins of religion; how gods, goddesses, and demons are personifications of astronomical phenomena such as lunar elipses, planetary alignments, and apparent interactions of planetary bodies with stars. Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, and the ancient Egyptian religions are examples of faiths claimed to be derived from observations of the bodies on the celestial sphere. Examples of deities said to be created as astrological allegories
Astrological allegory
An astrological allegory is an allegory , based on astrology, that is the movement of stars and planet as seen from the Earth...

 include YHWH, Ra, Horus, Osiris, Mithras, Zoroaster, Helios, Apollo, Lugh, Quetzalcoatl and Jesus Christ.

The term astro-theology appears in the title of a 1714 work by William Derham
William Derham
William Derham was an English clergyman and natural philosopher. He produced the earliest, reasonably accurate estimate of the speed of sound.-Life:...

, Astro-theology: or, A demonstration of the being and attributes of God, from a survey of the heavens based on the author's observations by means of "Mr. Huygens' Glass". Derham thought that the stars were openings in the firmament
Firmament
The firmament is the vault or expanse of the sky. According to Genesis, God created the firmament to separate the oceans from other waters above.-Etymology:...

 through which he thought he saw the Empyrean
Empyrean
Empyrean, from the Medieval Latin empyreus, an adaptation of the Ancient Greek ἔμπυρος empyrus "in or on the fire ", properly Empyrean Heaven, is the place in the highest heaven, which in ancient cosmologies was supposed to be occupied by the element of fire .-Use in literature:The Empyrean was...

 beyond.
The 1783 issue of The New Christian's magazine had an essay entitled Astro-theology which argued the "demonstration of sacred truths" from "a survey of heavenly bodies" in the sense of the watchmaker analogy
Watchmaker analogy
The watchmaker analogy, or watchmaker argument, is a teleological argument for the existence of God. By way of an analogy, the argument states that design implies a designer...

.
Higginson (1855) argues a compatibility of "Jewish Astro-theology" of the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, which places God and his angelic hosts in the heavens, with a "Scientific Astro-theology" based on observation of the cosmos.

The same term is used by Irvin, Maxwell and Rutajit (2006) in reference to "the earliest known forms of religion and nature worship", advocating the entheogen
Entheogen
An entheogen , in the strict sense, is a psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context. Historically, entheogens were mostly derived from plant sources and have been used in a variety of traditional religious contexts...

 theory of the origin of religion.

See also


  • Astraea (mythology)
  • Astraeus
    Astraeus
    In Greek mythology, Astraeus or Astraeos was an astrological deity and the Titan-god of the dusk. In Hesiod's Theogony and in the Bibliotheca, Astraeus is a second-generation Titan, descended from Crius and Eurybia. However, Hyginus wrote that he was descended directly from Tartarus and Gaia, and...

  • Babylonian astrology
    Babylonian astrology
    In Babylon as well as in Assyria as a direct offshoot of Babylonian culture, astrology takes its place in theofficial cult as one of the two chief means at the disposal of the priests for ascertaining the will and intention of the gods, the other being through the inspection of the liver of the...

  • Eosphorus
  • Heavenly host
    Heavenly host
    Heavenly host refers to an army of good angels mentioned in the Bible. It is led either by the Archangel Michael, Jesus, or by God himself. Most descriptions of angels in the Bible describe them in military terms, such as encampment , command structure , and combat...

  • Heavens (disambiguation)
    Heavens (disambiguation)
    Heavens may refer to:* The sky or outer space * Heaven of general religious, theological, and metaphysical belief* Seven Heavens a classic generally esoteric and metaphysical study of heaven...

  • Hellenistic astrology
    Hellenistic astrology
    Hellenistic astrology is a tradition of horoscopic astrology that was developed and practiced in Hellenistic Egypt and the Mediterranean, whose texts were written in Greek , mainly around the late 2nd or early 1st century B.C.E...

  • History of astrology
    History of astrology
    Astrology, the belief in a connection between the cosmos and terrestrial matters has played an important part in human history.Regional branches of astrology include Western astrology, Indian astrology, and Chinese or East Asian astrology.-Early origins:...

  • Idolatry
    Idolatry
    Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although...

  • Moon worship
  • Nature worship (disambiguation)
  • Religious cosmology
    Religious cosmology
    A Religious cosmology is a way of explaining the origin, the history and the evolution of the universe based on the religious mythology of a specific tradition...

  • Sabaism
  • Sky Father
    Sky father
    The sky father or heavenly father is a recurring theme in mythology all over the world. The sky father is the complement of the earth mother and appears in some creation myths, many of which are Indo-European or ancient Near Eastern. Other cultures have quite different myths; Egyptian mythology...

  • Sun worship


External links