The Imperial Astrologer
Esoteric Astrology in the Light of Ancient Chinese Knowledge
Malvin Artley, astrologer and leading occultist, is a regular contributor to this site. He has this to say about the following article: "There is something here for everyone—astrologer, astronomer, esotericist, occultist, people just generally interested and even for historians—for this article concerns something which has been dear to me for a while and which has its origins in ancient days—the Imperial Astrologer of Chinese occultism. But, this is not a personage—it is a star, an oracle, a sacred covenant among the astrologers of ancient China and a mystery as well. And what would our minds do without a good mystery to keep us occupied?"
But, some background is needed first.
The ancient Chinese had a profound knowledge of the heavens. Their astronomical systems and knowledge were the envy of the ancient world in their day. Even by today's standards, their accumulated knowledge is impressive. Whereas Western astronomy divides the sky into dozens of constellations comprised mostly of the larger naked-eye stars, the Chinese divided the sky into hundreds of constellations—some large, most of them small—and also used a great many stars which on some nights cannot even be seen with the naked eye.
Their most important constellations were in what is known as the North Circumpolar Region—the region of the sky that is always visible at any time of the year north of the equator and which "rotates" around the current Pole Star, Polaris. The largest and most magnificent of these circumpolar constellations was, and still is, what they called "Pei Tou", the Northern Ladle, which we know as the Big Dipper—the seven main stars of Ursa Major, the Great Bear. To the ancient Chinese the North Circumpolar Region was the abode of the Imperial court, since the Emperor was the center of their life and ruled the earth, just as Polaris ("Tai I"—the Celestial Monad) governed the course of the heavens. In fact, the Emperor was signified in the heavens by Tai I. Each facet of the Imperial court had a representative star somewhere within the circumpolar space.
Source of the Seven Rays
Ursa Major is one of the most massive of the Western constellations. But most of us know it only as the Big Dipper. The Chinese gleaned upwards of a dozen constellations from the stars there along with about 2 dozen individual stars which they considered to be of primary importance. Esotericists will be well familiar with the Great Bear—more specifically, the Northern Ladle—because those seven main stars are the source of the seven primary energies, or Rays, which go toward making up our solar system and all the associated modes of perception within it. In short, they are the source or distributors of the Will of God for our solar system (and not a few other systems, as well).
A Well Guarded Secret
But the Chinese had a secret, and a well-guarded one at that. Associated with those seven stars, or Rishis, were other groups of seven stars, some of which helped in distributing the seven Light Streams or Rays and another which "stood behind" them (the seven Rishis and the other groups of seven) and even directed them. I will not delineate them here. We should be very clear that, even though we are talking about vast interstellar systems and Beings of fantastic Light and Magnitude, the systems at which we are looking here are only as specks of dust in the even greater vastness of our own Milky Way galaxy.
Of the Northern Ladle, the Chinese said that those seven stars ".....represent the Emperor's carriage [the vehicle of God's Will], rotating around the center of the universe. It governs the 4 Directions, and divides Yin from Yang. It determines the 4 Seasons, balances the 5 Elements, regulates the divisions of time, the degrees of the sky, and many other things. Such are the stars of the Northern Ladle."
Esotericists will immediately recognize the similarities between their system and the Chinese description of the functions of the Great Bear. The Will of God would very much do all the things just mentioned, and then some. The seven Rays or Light Streams, their subdivisions, their cycles and their interactions give rise to all that we know within our manifested universe. But, they have to have help to do this. Like any good executive, God delegates authority and divides the load fairly and equitably to those in subordinate positions. Thus, the universe runs like a well-oiled machine and timepiece. The Seven Rishis are only way-stations Themselves, stepping down and transmitting God's Light and Love to us from even more stupendous Lives. The universe is an infinite Hierarchy of Being.
The Stars & Planets Name Themselves
Many of the Chinese names for stars in Ursa Major carry names such as "Prime Minister", "Big Sun Governor", "Minister of State", "the 3 Dukes", "Factory Chief", along with many other ministers, chiefs, generals and people of high rank within the Imperial Court. Clearly, this was an important part of the sky for the Chinese. In fact, there were no named stars of inferior rank within the region of the sky now known as Ursa Major. Most Western sources attribute the Chinese namings of these stars to arbitrary whims and favours to people in high places. But, to the occultist—no matter what the culture—the stars and planets name themselves.
It is my belief that, far from being arbitrary nominations, the Chinese took great care in how they named their stars and asterisms (constellations). They had many generations of accumulated lore and wisdom at their disposal to do so. Their namings are much more descriptive and poetic than the current scientific model of Greek letters, Roman letters and numbers. Energies and higher Intelligences play upon the collective subconscious of people and seek to impress the truth of the greater Universe upon the minds of people everywhere through names, symbols and a host of other methods. As we know, astrology is at one and the same time the grand masterwork of symbolism for humanity as well as a factual and accurate system of gauging and forecasting the energetic interplay of all bodies within the cosmos—so intricate, ordered and righteous is God's Mechanism.
Part two of this intriguing article goes on to examine the function of The Imperial Astrologer in the light of esoteric teaching, yoga and ancient philosophical insights.
Read part 2 of The Imperial Astrologer
The Imperial Astrologer: part 1 | part 2 | Mercury Cycles | The Zodiac | The Planets